David Park. Photograph: Sophie Park

Layered tale set near the end of the Vietnam war is crammed with astute observations

Two couples form a friendship over regular games of bridge but suspicion clouds it

 Here Goes Nothing by Steve Toltz is a hugely timely book on the dangers of the way we live today

Steve Toltz has written smart social commentary on our fossil fuel-guzzling, warmongering, information-obsessed, pandemic-riddled (...)

Emily St John Mandel’s latest novel encompasses war, art, pandemics, family, love and  time travel.   Photograph:  Sarah Shatz

Book review: Canadian author gracefully moves the reader across time and space

Candice Carty-Williams

Review: Candice Carty-Williams latest novel has plenty to say on experience of black people in Britain

Author Nina Stibbe has been called Sue Townsend’s heir, and it’s easy to see why. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Book review: Nina Stibbe’s writing is full of humorous observations and delightful idiosyncrasy

Caryl Lewis

Book review: Caryl Lewis’s new novel is an original and timely story about impact of war

Cork author Sara Baume is a writer of rare quality and courage.

Highly original tale of two misanthropic introverts abandons narrative conventions

Anne Tyler

This engaging read on the knottiness of family ties is full of wisdom nonetheless

Ashley Nelson Levy’s debut novel is an absorbing read that explores the question of parentage and legacy in a way that feels fresh and innovative. Photograph: Eustacio Humphrey

Book review: A thought-provoking debut novel on adoption from Ashley Nelson Levy

Ryan O’Connor writes cogently on poverty, social inequality and addiction

Book review: much of this reads like a surreal picaresque in a destitute part of Glasgow

The Wonders is the debut novel from acclaimed Spanish poet Elena Model

Book review: The money woes of one Spanish family over decades

Amy Liptrot ‘locates her subject matter, her internal conflicts, in the wider world’. Photograph: Lisa Swarna Khanna

Book review: A year in a foreign city brought to life by award-winning Scottish writer

Ella Baxter is a writer and artist based in Melbourne. In her spare time, she runs a small business making bespoke death shrouds

Debut novel has an array of structural flaws but is saved by author’s startling originality

Lan Samantha Chang: creates a busy, bristling narrative

Book review: A family restaurant passes through generations with a huge helping of trouble

Audrey Magee has a spare, unshowy style

A novel that examines the pillaging of local culture on an island in 1970s Ireland

Alex Hyde brings the era to life with choice details

Hyde draws attention to how women’s lives were considered interchangeable

Claire Vaye Watkins: her writing has a transgressive approach to motherhood and marriage

Book review: Claire Vaye Watkins covers subjects from motherhood to Manson Family

Motifs in Lily King’s fiction include infidelity, divorces, drunk or absentee parents, and the resilience of those who survive the turmoil

Book review: Hope and hard-earned lessons from the author of Writers & Lovers

Sara Freeman’s prose is taut and illuminating

Book review: One woman’s attempts to retrieve herself after loss

The characterisation of witches as hags, sorcerers, temptresses, child murderers, evil incarnate  is the focus of the Swiss-French feminist Mona Chollet’s (above) In Defence of Witches

Book review: French feminist urges modern women to consider the term ‘witch’

A book of disquiet about a young girl who doesn’t speak

Rose Tremain’s writing has won, among other awards, the Orange Prize, the Dylan Thomas Award, the Whitbread Novel of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize

Book review: An engaging Victorian morality tale about a real-life foundling hospital

Aifric Campbell

Unique novel of big ideas considers advances in technology and where they might take us

In her new collection of essays, These Precious Days,  Ann Patchett dispenses wisdom on the differences between life and art

Book review: Acclaimed novelist turns her hand to a collection of personal essays

Author of The Falling Thread, Adam O’Riordan

A debut novel explores a rapidly changing Britain at the turn of the 20th century

Hilma Wolitzer: sharp, funny and insightful writing

Book review: Hilma Wolitzer’s memorable collection culminates with a pandemic story

Nobel Prize winning Mario Vargas Llosa fictionalises real events in 1950s Guatemala, in his latest book Harsh Times

Book review: This is a compelling fictionalisation of war and revolt in Central America

The queen is a complex character, on the one hand deserving of sympathy, on the other brilliantly defiant about her brutal mothering style

Vivid reimagining of the queen shows the Shakespearean scholar what they’re missing

Claire Keegan: the Wexford author’s unsentimental, unshowy style seems a perfect fit for a story that pits one man against the power of the Catholic Church

A fresh and sensitive perspective on an awful period in Ireland’s collective history

Sarah Hall started writing her novel on the first day of lockdown in March 2020, imagining herself as a kind of first responder, trying to document a world that was suddenly “eerily shrouded and in jeopardy”.

A feverish, beautifully observed novel about sickness, love and loss

Richard Powers: Bewilderment’s dexterous narrative weaves themes of climate and grief

Book review: Booker shortlisted novel is a damning assessment of the state of the world

Colson Whitehead explores whether a person can escape the past, both political and personal.

The double Pulitzer prize winner’s latest is set in 1960s Harlem’s criminal underworld

Dennis Duncan offers the odd flash of humour and a few bright anecdotes in an otherwise dense narrative that gives a detailed and considered history of the index.

Dennis Duncan offers thoughtful observations and meticulous research on contents

Author Pat Barker began  her literary career in her 40s, and has  published 16 novels, including her WWI Regeneration trilogy, the final book of which won the Booker Prize.

Pat Barker’s sequel continues her vivid reimagining of Greek mythology

A takedown of the greed and superficiality of the film industry is only one strand of Alexandra Kleeman’s multifaceted book

Review: Alexandra Kleeman chills with an original, acerbic novel about a near-future apocalypse

Michelle Zauner. Photograph: Barbora Mrazkova

The musician’s memoir about her fraught relationship with her dying mother is astute

Bernard MacLaverty: a master of the short story form

Book review: Bernard MacLaverty’s skill is finding the benevolence at the heart of human nature

Leïla  Slimani: There is much that entertains and informs in The Country of Others.

Book review: The Franco-Moroccan author is excellent on female subjugation in Arab culture

Loss and recovery are the mainstay of Clare Sestanovich’s Objects of Desire, with each story focusing on these twinned themes in some guise or other. Photograph: Edward Friedman

Book review: Sharp stories from Clare Sestanovich about young lives turning

Trauma and loss surface in various ways in Anuk Arudpragasam’s new novel, A Passage North, set during the Sri Lankan civil war

Book review: Anuk Arudpragasam’s novel set in Sri Lanka is a treasure trove of insight

Calla Henkel

Too many aspects of this debut novel about American exchange students lack depth

The Paper Lantern by Will Burns manages to chart and interrogate the public mood and understanding of the Covid-19 crisis even as it is still unfolding

Book review: Will Burns’s novel highlights inequalities and issues of modern society

 Long Players, edited by Tom Gatti,  is an enjoyable mix of memoir and music writing.

Book review: Eimear McBride, Ali Smith and Sarah Hall are among the 50 authors selected to write about the albums that shaped them

Meg Mason

Meg Mason has written one of the best novels of the year so far

Marie Auberton

Marie Auberton’s novel explores the heartbreak and humour of family relationships

Readers of A Shock are instantly involved in the compelling action of Keith Ridgway’s worlds, the characters he writes with great compassion and clarity

Book review: Keith Ridgway’s interconnecting stories focus on loss and survival

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s  new novel is called Malibu Rising.

Book review: Taylor Jenkins Reid’s new novel is set in 1950s and 1980s California

American author John Green’s  first non-fiction book, The Anthropocene Reviewed, is packed with knowledge.

Book review: The bestselling novelist John Green’s first non-fiction book covers a vast and fascinating range of topics

Admirers of Lisa McInerney, and she has many, will find plenty to keep them happy

Old hurts and grievances are aired in Lisa McInerney's engaging third novel

Kjersti A Skomsvold writes with empathetic clarity on the sensibility of the artist

Kjersti A Skomsvold’s compelling account of an artist’s journey to motherhood

Sarah Bernstein: ‘concerns herself with the role of women in society, both historically and in contemporary times’

Sarah Bernstein’s stylish debut novel about the female experience from a writer to watch

Mona Eltahawy says women are socialised to avoid: anger, attention, profanity, ambition, power, violence and lust

Mona Eltahawy’s bracing manifesto on what it means to be a feminist today

Katherine Heiny’s second novel Early Morning Riser charts the lives of ordinary folks in a wise and witty narrative.

Book review: Katherine Heiny’s feelgood second novel is about love and community

Alexandra Aikhenvald draws on a lifetime of fieldwork to explore themes of language in her new book.

Book review: Alexandra Aikhenvald’s breadth of linguistic knowledge fills this study with fascinating nuggets of information

Rachel Kushner: her daring exploits like someone’s cool older sister

Book review: Enthralling collection of essays from the acclaimed novelist Rachel Kushner

Chris Power: atmospheric writing

Chris Power’s clever debut novel on the sacrifices needed to create good art

Peace Adzo Medie is a writer from Ghana who lectures in gender and international politics at the University of Bristol. His Only Wife is her debut novel

Tradition clashes with modernity in a captivating tale of marriage in contemporary Ghana

Brenda Navarro: Her novel makes the desperate world of missing persons vividly clear, with the ineptitude of the authorities in a country overrun with crime.

Brenda Navarro uses dual narratives to explore missing children and dark maternity

Born in Waterford in 1990, Megan Nolan is an arts writer who now lives in London.

Book review: Megan Nolan’s ‘raw’ debut novel of a young woman’s awakening

Catherine Talbot has written a confident and compelling debut. Photograph: Fiach O’Neill

Catherine Talbot’s debut novel about familicide in south Co Dublin is compelling

Anna Beecher: her evocation of grief is full of curiosity and a search for meaning.

Book review: Anna Beecher’s moving debut novel is about a young man diagnosed with a terminal illness

Nell Frizzell: Gives an extraordinary amount of detail about everyday events

Book review: Journalist Nell Frizzell wanted a baby but her bodyclock was a time bomb

Danielle McLaughlin: In the convincingly claustrophobic small-town atmosphere of her novel, there are echoes of the novels of her fellow county-man Graham Norton

Danielle McLaughlin cleverly explores inspiration, ownership and betrayal across several narrative strains

Caleb Azumah Nelson

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s debut novel is strong on race relations but doesn’t quite land

Book review: Raven Leilani’s debut charts the messy lives of shiny, unhappy people

Author Una Mannion, author of A Crooked Tree

Book review: Una Mannion’s debut novel is full of quiet surprises and revelations

Rebecca Watson: inventive style and linguistic flair

Book review: Rebecca Watson’s inventive debut makes for a compelling read

Susie Yang explores the subject of privilege through the character of Ivy Lin

Book review: Captivating debut novel about the dangers of pursuing the American dream

There is a pleasing pressure-cooker feel to proceedings in Sarah Pearse’s debut novel, reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None

Book review: When a freak snowstorm leaves a hotel cut off the nightmare scenarios begin

It was a strong year for Irish debuts on the whole. All of the books from emerging Irish authors reviewed in New Fiction this year had something to commend them. Photograph: iStock

The standout first novels and collections from home and abroad this year

John Metcalf’s collection is as informative as it is entertaining.

Book review: Metcalf is an accessible writer whose engaging collection spans a life’s work

Novel about young American-Palestinian woman who feels out of place everywhere, even in her own body

American author Rumaan Alam: ‘Creates an atmosphere of dread so convincing and prescient that it stays with the reader long after reading’

Book Review: Timely novel about a sudden, cataclysmic event that shocks the world

Thomas McMullan’s debut novel has echoes of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

Thomas McMullan’s debut novel portrays a vivid dystopia fuelled by sham democracy

Genn is to be commended for choosing two such unlikable leads for her novel about a celebrity singer's toxic relationships

Lost Cat could be deemed more sentimental territory, beginning with the story of how the author rescued a stray cat in Italy and brought him to live with her in the US. Photograph: iStock

Book review: Mary Gaitskill mines details from her own life in this story of loss and recovery

Clarissa Goenawan: An inventive writer

Secrets and fabrications are at the heart of Clarissa Goenawan’s intriguing second novel

Prof Carolyne Larrington: stories first published last year as an award-winning Audible podcast

Book review: Carolyne Larrington’s vivid anthology of 10 reimagined folktales

John Vercher’s Three-Fifths has been shortlisted for the Edgar Best First Novel, an award for the best mystery writing across a number of  genres

Book review: John Vercher’s debut is a deft exploration of the great racial divide

Sayaka Murata

Dark novel about sex abuse from Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman

 Sinéad Gleeson has edited a new collection of Irish short stories called The Art of the Glimpse. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Sinéad Gleeson talks about her mammoth new anthology of 100 Irish short stories

Jean Kyoung Frazier is a stylish writer who wears her skills lightly

Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut is a blistering base with all the toppings

Amina Cain

Amina Cain’s debut novel on the art monster within is remarkable in its scope

Author Diane Cook: she  has the control that is necessary for good speculative fiction.

Book review: Diane Cook’s subtle look at the climate crisis deserves its place on the Booker longlist

Doireann Ní Ghríofa:  Stands apart with her lyrical prose and the stoic, almost noble sensibility that runs through her autofiction.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s unusual prose debut brings art of Caoineadh into the 21st century

Sarah Crossan explores the messy aftermath of an affair ended abruptly in her new novel Here is the Beehive

Book review: Former Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan has written her first novel for adults, a cleverly-conceived story about the end(...)

Elaine Feeney: For all its cruel awakenings, this is also a book about friendship and community

Elaine Feeney’s debut novel, set on a hospital ward, has a strong state-of-the-nation feel

Tiffany McDaniel

Flawed but important novel about the legacy of abuse passed down through generations

Kate Reed Petty is a clever writer with a sardonic wit

Kate Reed Petty’s genre-hopping novel focuses on lives altered by a true-or-false story

In Saturday Lunch with the Brownings, Penelope Mortimer’s dexterous, vibrant prose burrows deep into the everyday moments that lead to points of crisis

Book review: In Penelope Mortimer’s 12 short stories, the familiar turns monstrous

Yuri Herrera

Yuri Herrera’s narrative journalism about the 1920 tragedy and cover-up is devastating

Emma Gannon’s Olive takes a tried and tested formula and breathes new life into it.

Book review: Emma Gannon’s smart debut novel looks at the decision to be childfree

Susannah Dickey gets the reader on board quickly and refuses to let them flinch.

Susannah Dickey’s powerful writing brings a girl’s coming of age into sharp focus

Callan Wink: His writing has the deceptive simplicity of greats such as Hemingway or Carver. Photograph: Dan Lahren

Callan Wink’s coming-of-age novel in the US heartland confirms him as a major talent

A memoir, the book follows Nina and her relationship with a man addicted to heroin

Book review: An eye-opening debut about codependency from Nina Renata Aron

Caoilinn Hughes. Photograph by Danijel Mihajlovic

Caoilinn Hughes deploys poignant prose in a rural setting with prodigal tones

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