The Abbey’s recent stage adaptation of Mike McCormack’s Dublin Literary Award winning Solar Bones was a reminder, if one were needed, of what a masterpiece it is. The prospect of a new novel is therefore one to savour. Part roman noir, part metaphysical thriller, This Plague of Souls (Tramp Press, October) deals with how we might mend the world – and is the story of a man who would let the world go to hell if he could keep his family together.
Prophet Song (Oneworld, September), by the award-winning Paul Lynch, features a mother who is also trying to keep her family together in an Ireland that has taken a turn towards tyranny. Soldier Sailor (Faber, May) is a welcome return by Claire Kilroy, her first novel in 10 years. It captures the raw, tumultuous emotions of a new mother as her marriage suffers and she struggles with questions of love, autonomy and creativity.
Old God’s Time (Faber, March) by former Laureate of Irish Fiction Sebastian Barry, twice winner of Costa Book of the Year, is a tale of memory, love, mystery and reckoning, when an old case catches up with retired garda Tom Kettle. My Father’s House (Harvill Secker, January) by Joseph O’Connor is a literary thriller based on the true story of Fr Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish priest in the Vatican who rescued victims of the Nazis under the nose of his SS nemesis. From Paul Murray, the author of the marvellous Skippy Dies, comes The Bee Sting (Hamish Hamilton, June), an intricate and poignant tragicomedy about family, fortune and the struggle to be a good man at the end of the world. Murray’s previous novel, The Mark and the Void, won the Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2016. The Home Scar (Sandycove, February) by Kathleen MacMahon is her follow-up to the impressive Nothing but Blue Sky. Confronted with the havoc their mother left in her wake, Cassie and Christo are forced to face the messy tangle of parental love and neglect that shaped them.
Second books often deliver great rewards for readers, primed by the promise of the author’s debut. In Nothing Special (Bloomsbury, March) by Nicole Flattery, the award-winning author of debut story collection Show Them a Good Time, two young women navigate the complex worlds of Andy Warhol’s Factory. In The Happy Couple (W & N, May) Naoise Dolan, author of the bitingly funny Exciting Times, makes the marriage plot her own in a sparkling ensemble novel that promises to be ferociously clever and enjoyable. In Tell Me What I Am (Faber, June) by Una Mannion, author of the excellent A Crooked Tree, two women, wrenched apart by a terrible crime, must find a way back to each other. Juno Loves Legs (Harvill Secker, March) is a working-class Dublin love story by Karl Geary, who impressed with his debut, Montpelier Parade. How to Build a Boat (Harvill Secker, April) by Elaine Feeney is the follow-up to her acclaimed debut, As You Were, which won three prizes and was shortlisted for two more. Jamie, 13, wants to build a perpetual motion machine, and to connect with his mother Noelle, who died when he was born. Service (One, May) by Sarah Gilmartin, the best-selling author of Dinner Party, is said to be a scorching, engrossing novel about the fallout from a scandal-struck high-end restaurant. Remembrance Sunday (Sandycove, May) by Darragh McKeon is inspired by the Enniskillen bombing. A novel about compassion, the legacy of violence and the weight of history, spanning New York as well as Northern Ireland, by the author of All That is Solid Melts into Air.
The Mess We’re In (Wildfire, May) by Annie Macmanus is a celebration of the Irish diaspora experience set in Kilburn in 2001. Ordinary Human Failings (Jonathan Cape, June) by Megan Nolan, author of the impressive Acts of Desperation, features a tabloid journalist who stumbles across a scoop: a dead child on a London estate, with the finger of suspicion pointing at a reclusive Irish family, at whose heart sits Carmel: beautiful, otherworldly, broken. Falling Animals (Bloomsbury, May) is the debut novel by Sheila Armstrong, author of the acclaimed story collection, How to Gut a Fish. Told through a chorus of villagers’ voices, it is inspired by the true story of a still-unidentified traveller found dead on Rosses Point beach in Co Sligo in 2009.
A crop of promising debuts suggests that the Irish literary tradition is in safe hands. Close to Home (Hamish Hamilton, April) by Belfast writer Michael Magee, the fiction editor of The Tangerine, comes garlanded with advance praise. Examining the forces that keep young, working-class men in harm’s way, it is the story of two brothers; Anto the hard man who stays and Seán who escapes only to be drawn home. Though the Bodies Fall by Noel O’Regan (Granta, August) is a novel set on an Irish clifftop and is a story about duty, despair and the chance encounters upon which fate turns. The Red Bird Sings (Virago, April) by Aoife Fitzpatrick is billed as a searing feminist history with the tropes of southern Gothic. Based on a real trial, it’s the story of a mother’s determination to win justice for her murdered newly-wed daughter. Kala (Atlantic, July), by Hennessy award winner Colin Walsh, is said to be a woozy, teen-summer-before-the-fall, big-hearted, big-voiced literary novel with dark accents of rural crime. Lazy City (Canongate, August) by Rachel Connolly explores dysfunctional relationships, love and heartbreak as a young woman returns to Belfast from London as she grieves the loss of her best friend.
Dirty Laundry (Penguin, March) by Disha Bose is a deliciously scandalous story about the dark side of suburbia, bristling with lies, desire and the secrets that can make or break a marriage. In The Last Days of Joy by Anne Tiernan (Hachette Ireland, March), Joy’s children rush to her side when they learn that she has only days to live, bringing with them all the dysfunction and hurt they have been carrying since childhoods. Night Music (Doire Press, March) by Fergus Cronin explores the fates of put-upon people – the cards they are dealt, their tricks and devices, their escapes and the empathies they have for others or that others might have for them. Perpetual Comedown (New Island, February) by Declan Toohey is an experimental, trippy, funny, dark adventure into the mental breakdown of a literature student as he attempts to prove the existence of a third narrative dimension. In There’s Something I Have to Tell You (Hachette Ireland, April) by journalist Michelle McDonagh the bodies of wealthy matriarch Ursula Kennedy and her farmer husband Jimmy are pulled from the slurry pit, and shock ricochets throughout the family and community. Eyes Guts Throat Bones (W & N, April) is the adult debut of YA author Moïra Fowley, a collection of short stories about (queer, female) bodies and the end of the world. The Polite Act of Drowning (Bonnier, April) by Charleen Hurtubise is a coming-of-age novel set in the Dublin-based writer’s native Michigan with themes of generational trauma, sexual identity and mental illness at its heart, as well as the silence of women drowning in plain view in their daily lives.
In She That Lay Silent Like Upon the Shore (John Murray Originals, June) by Brendan Casey, a colossal grey whale washes up on a small island, whose inhabitants turn to their religious leader, the Prelate, to save them. Sounds Like Fun (Hodder & Stoughton, March) by Irish Writers Centre novel fair winner Brian Moriarty follows Eoin, whose long-term boyfriend Rich wants an open relationship. In The Gospel of Orla (Seven Stories Press, March), by poet Eoghan Walls, Orla (14) is planning to run away from her father in England to Northern Ireland, where her mother is buried. It is a coming-of-age story, road novel and meditation on faith and grief. In Wild Geese (Footnote, March) by Soula Emmanuel, Phoebe Forde has made a new start in Copenhagen when, almost three years into her gender transition, an unexpected visit from Grace, her first love, brings memories of Dublin and a life she thought she’d left behind. At once heartfelt and hilarious, Fling (Macmillan, February) by Joseph Murray is the story of a fateful – and faithful – affair to remind us all that sometimes what you’re looking for might be closer than you think. Hotel 21 (Bloomsbury, April) by Senta Rich, already optioned for TV, is the story of Noelle, who can tidy your hotel room in five minutes but can’t help taking a little “souvenir”. Tidying her life? That’s going to take a team. In Slant (New Island, May) by Katherine O’Donnell, Ro leaves Cork for life as an illegal immigrant in Boston, where she falls for Jenny, an English student, as the Aids crisis takes its toll. In The Speculations of Country People (Penguin, April), her debut poetry collection, Majella Kelly reckons with the legacy of the Tuam mother and baby home mass grave scandal. She traces the journeys of women in our own day, from controlling relationships to sexual reawakening and new happiness.
Among the highlights from well-established authors is The Rachel Incident (Virago, June) by Caroline O’Donoghue. Rachel (21) is platonically infatuated with her housemate James, and less-than-platonically infatuated with her married English professor Dr Byrne. In The Island of Longing (Hodder, April) by Anne Griffin, award-winning best-selling author of When All Is Said, Rosie tries to rebuild her life after her daughter Saoirse’s inexplicable disappearance. My Hot Friend (Hachette Ireland, May) by Sophie White is a sharp, funny and page-turning novel about the highs and lows of friendship. The Woman on the Bridge (Headline, April), a love story set during the War of Independence, is the first historical novel by best-selling author Sheila O’Flanagan. The Paper Man (Jonathan Cape, February) by Costa-shortlisted author Billy O’Callaghan is based on a real-life unsolved mystery, that of a Jewish refugee from Vienna who lands in Cork. Youth (Lilliput, June) by Kevin Curran dives into the hyper-sexualised, social media saturated, anxiety-plagued lives of four teenagers in Ireland’s most diverse town, Balbriggan. In a Thousand Different Ways (HarperCollins, April), Cecelia Ahern’s heroine, Alice, sees a thousand different emotions and knows exactly what everyone around her is feeling but where will the journey to find herself begin? Empty Bed Blues (New Island, April) by William Wall follows recently widowed Kate as she flees her late husband’s creditors to forge a new life in the secret “love-nest” she discovered he had in Italy.
Crime fiction highlights include Strange Sally Diamond (Sandycove, March) by Liz Nugent; The Close (HarperCollins, March) by Jane Casey; The Lock-Up by John Banville (Faber, April); and Don’t Look Back (Quercus, May) by Jo Spain.
In A Million to One (Hodder Children’s, January) by Adiba Jaigirdar, winner of the YA book prize 2022 and Children’s Books Ireland Award 2021, four friends stow away on the Titanic to steal the Rubaiyat, a book inlaid with jewels. The Writer’s Torch: Reading Stories from The Bell, edited by Phyllis Boumans, Elke D’hoker and Declan Meade (Stinging Fly Press, February) features 18 short stories from the 1940s and 1950s originally published in The Bell, with responses by contemporary writers.
Birnam Wood (Granta, March) is the first novel in 10 years from Eleanor Catton, the youngest winner of the Booker Prize. It transports the central ideas of Macbeth to contemporary New Zealand. The return of Salman Rushdie, another Booker Prize winner, who survived an assassination attempt last year, is also to be celebrated. Victory City (Jonathan Cape, February) is the epic tale of a woman who breathes a fantastical empire into existence. Old Babes in the Wood (Chatto & Windus, March) is a new collection of 15 stories from a third Booker winner, Margaret Atwood. Atwood also leads a star-studded cast, including Emma Donoghue, to create a dazzling response to the darkness cast by the pandemic in Fourteen Days (Vintage, May).
Other works with an Irish connection include Scattered Love (Lilliput, June) by Maylis Besserie, translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin. She turns her attention from Samuel Beckett (Yell Sam, If You Still Can) to another Irish writer, WB Yeats, who here returns as a ghost after being buried in France in 1939 in the cemetery of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. He recounts his thwarted love for Maud Gonne, a story that merges with that of the struggle for independence. Small Mercies (Abacus, April) by Dennis Lehane is set in the summer of 1974 as a heatwave blankets Boston and Mary Pat Fennessey is trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors. Elsewhere (Faber, June) is the English-language debut from the formerly Dublin-based Chinese author Yan Ge – nine witty and wondrous stories of dispossession and longing. Fayne (Tramp Press, May) by Ann-Marie MacDonald is the story of a gifted child who lives with her mysterious nobleman father in a remote Scottish castle. Open Up (Faber, August) by former Stinging Fly editor Thomas Morris, author of We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, is a welcome second collection of short stories exploring the inner lives of boys and men, shot through with moments of sadness, mystery, humour and hope.
Heart Bones (January, Simon & Schuster) by Colleen Hoover is a love story about two young people from different backgrounds and is pretty much guaranteed to top the charts.
From Claire Fuller, the Costa-Winning, Women’s Prize-shortlisted author of Unsettled Ground, comes The Memory of Animals (Fig Tree, April), a haunting novel about memory, love and survival. In Biography of X (Granta, April) by Catherine Lacey, X, darling of the art world, is dead. Her wife decides she must pen her biography. The Glutton (Granta, September) by Desmond Elliott Prize winner AK Blakemore is a historical tale based on the life of Tarrare, an 18th century Frenchman with an unstoppable appetite.
Greek Lessons (Hamish Hamilton, April) by Han Kang, the International Booker Prize-winning author of The Vegetarian, and translated by Deborah Smith and Emily Yae Won, tells the story of two people brought together at a moment of private anguish; the fading light of a man losing his vision meeting the silence of a woman who has lost her language. Kairos (Granta, June) by multi award-winning author Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann, is an ambitious story of love and betrayal set in Berlin around the fall of the wall. Watch Us Dance (Faber, July) by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor, is the second volume in her acclaimed new trilogy, set in 1970s Morocco. Melancholy I-II (Fitzcarraldo, March) by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls, is a fictional invocation of the 19th century Norwegian artist Lars Hertervig, who painted luminous landscapes, suffered mental illness and died poor in 1902. Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv (MacLehose, April) by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Reuben Woolley, is an entertaining romp through the beautiful city of Lviv, by the author of Death and the Penguin and Grey Bees. This is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes, (Fitzcarraldo, May) is a set of devastating stories that blend reportage and the author’s rich imagination.
Ayobami Adebayo’s second novel A Spell of Good Things (Canongate, February) is a portrait of contemporary Nigeria and of two families caught up in the riptides of wealth, power and political corruption. Stay With Me was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize. In The Gospel According to the New World (World Editions, March) by Caribbean author Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox, a miracle baby is born on Easter Sunday, rumoured to be the child of God. A masterful blend of dry wit, morbid charm and earnest observations, 2022 Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Birth Lottery and Other Surprises (Fleet, July) is a collection of stories that serves up fantasies for doomsday and everyday.
The Night Walks Down (Sceptre, March) by Dylan Thomas Prize-winning Australian author Fiona McFarlane, takes on the tradition of the Great Australian Novel and the pervasive cultural narrative of the “white child lost in the wilderness”, examining its roots in colonialism and white settler anxiety. In Exiles (Macmillan, February), by critically acclaimed Australian crime writer Jane Harper, Aaron Falk returns to investigate what happened to a mother who disappeared at a festival and the devastation wrought on her family.
In I am Homeless if This is Not my Home (Faber, June) by Lorrie Moore, one of the most celebrated American authors, Finn is reunited with his troubled old flame Lily, recently deceased, and the two embark on a road trip to work out what they meant to each other and how they might go about life alone. Be Mine (Bloomsbury, June) by Richard Ford is the fourth and final novel in the two-time Pulitzer prize-winning Frank Bascombe series, which has chronicled the state of the US over the last 40 years. Paul has been diagnosed with ALS and wants to make up for a lifetime of being a terrible father. Deborah Levy’s August Blue (Hamish Hamilton, May), about two women chasing their doubles around Europe, is the mesmerising new novel from the twice Booker-shortlisted author of Hot Milk and Swimming Home. On The Savage Side (W & N, March) by Tiffany McDaniel, author of best-seller Betty, is a breathtaking exploration of poverty, abuse and addiction. In The Guest (Chatto & Windus, May) by Emma Cline, author of the global phenomenon, The Girls, a young woman pretends to be someone she isn’t one summer in Long Island. Avalon (January) by Nell Zink is a wild, blackly funny story of female emancipation and the journey to one’s own utopia.
In Cecilia Rabess’s Everything’s Fine (Picador, June), Jess, a liberal black woman, and Josh, a preppy white conservative, fall in love but with Trump approaching office and the cultural landscape shifting, Jess is forced to ask whether they are truly meant to be and if, in fact, everything is fine. Cahokia Jazz (Faber, October) by Francis Spufford, the best-selling, prize-winning author of Golden Hill, is a joyride detective story set in a teeming 1920s America of speakeasies, jazz and delicious corruption ... where history has played out a little differently. In Prom Mom (August), Laura Lippman returns with a dark, timely thriller about painful secrets. Really Good, Actually (Fourth Estate, Jan) by Schitt’s Creek writer Monica Heisey charts 28-year-old Maggie’s road to rock bottom and back after a painful divorce. Brandon Taylor, Booker-shortlisted author of Real Life, returns with The Late Americans (Cape, June), a novel of aching intimacy that explores questions about sex, love, identity and politics. Big Swiss (Faber, May) by Jen Beagin is soon to be a HBO series starring Jodie Comer. When two women get talking in the local dog park, a new – and not entirely honest – relationship is born. The funniest book you will read in 2023, the publisher claims.
Cuddy (Bloomsbury, March) by Benjamin Myers is a novel about Northern England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. Shy by Max Porter (Faber, April) is a novel about guilt, rage, imagination and boyhood by the best-selling author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers and Lanny. His latest is a story about being lost in the dark, and realising you are not alone. High Time (Bloomsbury, June) by Hannah Rothschild returns to the world of House of Trelawney, shortlisted for the Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and which she won for The Improbability of Love. In After the Funeral (Cape, July), Tessa Hadley delivers a collection of stories that plumb the depths of everyday life. Mister, Mister (Tinder Press, May) by award-winning Guy Gunaratne (Our Mad and Furious City) is an explosive novel of Britishness and unbelonging. Weirdo (September), the debut novel by award-winning comedian Sara Pascoe, is about Sophie, who is avoiding debt collection letters, her sister (who is engaged to her ex), and her boyfriend when Chris walks into her pub. Small Worlds (Viking, May) is an exhilarating and expansive new novel about fathers and sons, faith and friendship from Caleb Azumah Nelson, the best-selling, award-winning author of Open Water. Cursed Bread (Hamish Hamilton, March) by Sophie Mackintosh is an eerie historical mystery about desire, memory and madness, from the Booker-nominated author of The Water Cure.
A Thread of Violence (Granta, July) by Mark O’Connell is a literary true crime story about Malcolm Macarthur, the notorious Irish double murderer, by the award-winning author of To Be a Machine and Notes from an Apocalypse. As the two men circle one another, O’Connell is pushed into a confrontation with his own narrative: what does it mean to write about a murderer?
Cracking the Case, (Sandycove, July) by Christy Mangan, is a senior garda’s sensational behind-the-scenes account of Ireland’s most notorious murders. Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women (Sandycove, January) by Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick, based on their popular podcast, is the untold stories of generations of Irish women who saw their American dream become a nightmare – and the trouble they got into as a result. Dirty Linen (Merrion Press, October) by Martin Doyle is a personal history of the Troubles, revealing the toll of political and sectarian violence in a parish at the heart of the Linen and Murder Triangles.
Can You Say That Again, But Slower (Sandycove, July) is the memoir of Brianna Parkins, the Irish-Australian journalist and broadcaster who gained international recognition as the Sydney Rose at the 2016 Rose of Tralee festival, campaigning for abortion rights in Ireland, before becoming a popular Irish Times columnist. Katriona O’Sullivan is an award-winning academic whose work explores barriers to education. Poor (Sandycove, May) is the extraordinary story of her struggle to make something of her life. In Ordinary Time, Fragments of a Family History (Duckworth, February) by Carmel McMahon sketches the evolution of a consciousness – from her conservative 1970s upbringing to 1990s New York, and back to the much-changed Ireland of today. Milk (Picador March) by poet Alice Kinsella is a memoir charting one woman’s first year of motherhood. Cacophony of Bone (Canongate, May) by Kerri Ní Dochartaigh is a meditation on nature, time and the meaning of home from the acclaimed author of Thin Places. In I Will Be Good: A Dublin Memoir (Hachette Ireland, June), by Peig McManus, a 1940s Dublin tenement childhood is recounted with candour and wit.
Tokens (Verso, June) by academic Rachel O’Dwyer looks at the future of money in the age of platform capitalism. In Social Capital: Fear and loathing in the shadow of Ireland’s tech boom (HarperCollins, April), Aoife Barry tells a David and Goliath story about Ireland’s role as prime real estate for the world’s largest tech multinationals, and the considerable impact it has had on individuals.
Perils & Prospects of a United Ireland (Lilliput, March) by Padraig O’Malley studies the questions around the future of Northern Irish politics, including the idea of reunification, with interviews with almost 100 politicians and academics. Killing Thatcher by Rory Carroll (HarperCollins, April) is the Guardian journalist’s account of how the IRA came astonishingly close to killing Margaret Thatcher. Is Ireland Neutral? (Gill, June) by Irish Times crime correspondent Conor Gallagher considers the history and prospects of Irish neutrality.
A Woman in Defence: A Soldier’s Story of the Enemy Within the Irish Army (Hachette, February) is by Karina Molloy, a pioneering soldier who is on a mission to make the Irish Defence Forces a safe and equitable place for women. The Grass Ceiling (Sandycove, May) by Eimear Ryan, author of the acclaimed debut novel Holding Her Breath and co-editor of Banshee magazine, digs deep into the confluence between gender and sport, identity, status, competition and self-expression. Perfectly Imperfect (Gill, May) is the memoir of Irish Paralympic champion and Dancing with the Stars finalist Ellen Keane.
The Letters of Seamus Heaney (Faber, October) edited by Christopher Reid offers intimate access to the man and poet, from first literary stirrings and the early struggles of his working life to global pre-eminence following the Nobel Prize. After the success of Dan Mulhall’s Ulysses: A Reader’s Odyssey in the centenary year of the publication of Ulysses, Pilgrim Soul: A Life of WB Yeats (New Island, October) is published to coincide with the centenary of Yeats’s Nobel Prize. Affinities (Fitzcarraldo, February) by Brian Dillon is about the intimate and abstract pleasures of reading and looking. Frank Ormsby: The Poet’s Chair Series (UCD Press, May) contains the poet’s original work during his tenure as Ireland Professor of Poetry. Garry Bannister’s Teasáras Gaeilge – Béarla | Irish-English Thesaurus (New Island, May) is the culmination of a life’s work. Nearly 700,000 words, it is a meticulously researched chronicle of the Irish language.
From the best-selling, award-winning author of Chernobyl, The Russo-Ukrainian War by Serhii Plokhy (Allen Lane, May) is a comprehensive history of a conflict that has burned since 2014, and that, with Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv, exploded a geopolitical order that had been cemented since the end of the Cold War. Plokhy traces the origins and the evolution of the conflict, from the collapse of the Russian empire to the rise and fall of the USSR and on to the development in Ukraine of a democratic politics. China & Russia: Four Centuries of Conflict and Concord (Yale University Press, March) by Philip Snow is a history of the relationship between China and Russia, from the 17th century to the “no limits” friendship of the present. The Future of Geography (Elliott & Thompson, April) by Tim Marshall aims to set out, as per its subtitle, How Power and Politics in Space Will Change Our World.
A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe (April) by Milan Kundera is a provocative and rousing essay collection from one of Europe’s greatest living writers. “The people of Central Europe [ ... ] cannot be separated from European history; they cannot exist outside it; but they represent the wrong side of this history; they are its victims and outsiders.” In Homelands: A Personal History of Europe (Bodley Head, March) Timothy Garton Ash tells the epic story of how Europe, having emerged from its wartime hell, recovered and rebuilt, liberated and united to come close to the ideal of a Europe “whole, free and at peace”, and then faltered. Dan Stone’s The Holocaust: An Unfinished History (Pelican, January) argues persuasively that we need to stop thinking of the Holocaust as an exclusively German project, outlining the depth of collaboration across Europe. The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism (Allen Lane, Feb) by Martin Wolf, chief financial commentator at the Financial Times, explores how and why the marriage between democracy and capitalism is coming undone all over the world, and what can be done to save it.
Spare (Bantam, January) is a memoir by Britain’s Prince Harry of dealing with first his mother’s death and later his wife’s harassment by the British media. The Stirrings, a memoir in essays (W & , August), by regular Irish Times reviewer Catherine Taylor, is an account of growing up in northern England in the 1970s and 1980s under the shadow of the Yorkshire Ripper, the miners’ strike and the threat of nuclear war. The Slow Road North: How I Found Peace in an Improbable Country (Mariner, August) by Rosie Schaap tells how, after losing her mother and husbands within a year of each other, the US food writer finally found a partner to heal with: Glenarm, a quiet village on the coast of Co Antrim. The Fear (Repeater, March) is Christiana Spens’s memoir of philosophy, heartbreak and motherhood. Good Girls: A story and study of anorexia (HarperCollins, March) by Hadley Freeman is a memoir about mental ill health and her experience with anorexia. Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict (HarperCollins, March) by novelist and author of How to Fail Elizabeth Day tells the story of one woman’s journey to understand why she’s addicted to friendship.
Two Sisters (HarperCollins, February) by Blake Morrison, published on the 30th anniversary of his ground-breaking book And When Did You Last See Your Father?, focuses on the sister and half-sister he lost in recent years, along with sibling relationships in literature and those of literary figures. Pageboy (Doubleday, June) is the coming-of-age memoir of the Academy Award-nominated actor and trans advocate Elliot Page. Toy Fights: A Boyhood (January) by Don Paterson is an exquisitely sharp, deeply humane and brutally hilarious boyhood memoir. The Call of the Tribe: Essays (January) by Mario Vargas Llosa is the intellectual autobiography of the Nobel laureate, surveying the readings and liberal thinkers that have shaped the way he thinks and views the world, from Adam Smith to Isaiah Berlin. Among Others: Friendships and Encounters (Faber, April) by Michael Frayn is a memoir of a lifetime’s friendships, from one of Britain’s most loved literary companions. Sleeping on Islands: A Life in Poetry (May) by Andrew Motion is a memoir featuring many of the major figures in British poetry, from a former poet laureate. Three Hundred Thousand Kisses (Particular Books, July) by designer Luke Edward Hall and poet Séan Hewitt is an illustrated anthology of queer ancient Greek and Roman love stories, many previously censored.
In An Uneasy Inheritance (Atlantic, June) Polly Toynbee uses the prism of her extraordinary family to examine the true state of class in Britain. Politics: A Survivor’s Guide (Atlantic, May) by Rafael Behr is a book about the toxic atmosphere of modern politics; the damage it does to democracy ... and the antidote. Imperial Island (Bodley Head, August) by Charlotte Lydia Riley is a revisionist history of postwar Britain that reveals how imperialism continues to govern it today. The State of Us (Bantam, March) by Jon Snow traces how the life of the nation has changed across his five-decade career, from getting thrown out of university for protesting apartheid to interviewing every prime minister since Margaret Thatcher. This is Not America: Why We Need a Different Conversation on Race (Atlantic, June) by Tomiwa Owolade is a radical reappraisal of how Britain talks about race and how to challenge racism and bigotry by a rising star of cultural criticism. Not So Black and White (Hurst, January) by Kenan Malik pledges to be A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics. Dispatches from the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter (Faber, March) by Gary Younge is a collection on race, racism, black life and death.
Matthew Desmond, an expert on poverty and homelessness and the author of the Pulitzer prize-winner Evicted, explores in Poverty, by America (Penguin, March) the interlocking crises of housing and wages and puts forward a manifesto for change. King (Simon & Schuster, May) by Jonathan Eig is the first major new biography of Martin Luther King in more than 40 years. Bloodbath Nation (January) by Paul Auster examines – through words and pictures – the epidemic of mass shootings in the US today.
How to Think Like a Philosopher (Granta, Feb) by Julian Baggini aims to improve how we think about our world, through the chaos. The Creative Act: A Way of Being (Canongate, January) by Rick Rubin distils the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments – and lifetimes – of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us. Foreign Bodies (Simon & Schuster, May) by Simon Schama is a cultural history of pandemics and vaccines. Every Choice Matters: Why I Blew the Whistle on Facebook (Hodder, May) by Frances Haugen lifts the lid on a social media scandal. The Wager (Simon & Schuster, May) by David Grann, best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon, promises to be A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder. Mary Beard’s Emperor of Rome (Profile, September) radically interrogates and reframes our view of Rome’s emperors.