It’s that lovely time in the book blog world when we start getting excited about all the great books coming our way next year. I have to admit I’ve been pretty bad at keeping up with bookish news recently, so I’m sure there are loads of amazing upcoming releases that aren’t on my radar yet (feel free to recommend any titles you’re particularly hyped about!). But that said, here are a few I’m already eager to get hold of when they hit shelves in 2021.
The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
Two women – one who has led a life of privilege, one who has worked as a maid since she was 10, but both of whom have suffered under a patriarchal society – relay their life stories to each other when intense events lead to their confinement in a dank room together. I was sold as soon as I read that this debut is “set against four decades of vibrant Nigeria, and celebrates the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what remains a man’s world.”
Published in May by Dundurn
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
This sounds like it could be such a me book! “In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.”
Presented as a dual narrative, split between the 1790s and present-day London, it sounds like this could be the feminist, gothic romp I need in my life.
Published in March by Park Row
The Secret Talker by Geling Yan, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang
This is “a tense, gripping, and wholly original psychological tale of a woman with a secret admirer—who is hiding secrets of her own.”
As Hongmei finds herself trapped in a cat-and-mouse game with a stalker, the façade of her seemingly perfect life begins to fall away, and her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive. I don’t need to know anything else to be hooked!
Published in March by HarperVia
Gratitude by Delphine de Vigan, translated from the French by George Miller
I read Loyalties by the same author this year and loved it. I definitely want to explore her back catalogue, but this sounds amazing too. Unable to look after herself any longer, Michka has recently been moved into a home. Gradually losing her ability to communicate, she is paired with a speech therapist. But Michka has harboured a dark secret for years, and time is running out for her to unburden herself of this hidden shame. “Delicately wrought and darkly gripping, Gratitude is about love, loss and redemption; about what we owe one another, and the redemptive power of showing thanks.”
Published in January by Bloomsbury
Milk Fed by Melissa Broder
Broder’s previous novel, The Pisces, was very much a love-it-or-hate-it book. Fortunately, I was one of the people who loved it, hence why I’m intrigued to see what else she has to offer. In Milk Fed, we follow a young woman who has been raised to religiously count calories. When she distances herself from her mother, and becomes intoxicated by another woman, she begins to question her long-held, obsessive habits. Supposedly, “Broder tells a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways that we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts.”
Published in February by Scribner
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
I suspect this one will be cropping up on a lot of people’s lists, since it’s his first release since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Looking at the rise of AI and the shifting definition of what it means to be human, we follow the perspective of an “Artificial Friend” as she observes those who browse the store in which she waits to be bought. It’s “a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?”
Published in March by Faber & Faber
The Natural Mother of the Child by Krys Malcolm Belc
I wouldn’t often be drawn to nonfiction that explores parenthood, but as a nonbinary transmasculine parent who has carried a child, Belc is uniquely positioned to offer a fresh take on a well-worn theme. A memoir in essays, the book delves into Belc’s thoughts on gender, identity, and societal expectations, as he seeks to transcend the limitations of the “before” and “after” approach that so often dominates trans stories.
Published in June by Counterpoint Press
Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
Thank you to Rachel for bringing this one to my attention with her own list of anticipated releases!
We follow a woman who returns to her childhood home in Edinburgh after the disappearance of her twin sister. “A twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.” I mean, a gothic mystery set in one of my favourite cities? Yes, please!
Published in April by Scribner
Madam by Phoebe Wynne
Speaking of gothic mysteries set in Scotland that Rachel brought to my attention, this follows a young woman who takes up a teaching position at a remote all girls boarding school on a craggy peninsula. Her modern approach soon clashes with the school’s traditional methods, and the abrupt departure of her predecessor begins to look increasingly suspicious. Sign me up, please and thank you.
Published in May by St. Martin’s Press
Redder Days by Sue Rainsford
I really liked Rainsford’s singular, otherworldly debut, Follow Me to Ground. Her new novel follows twins Anna and Adam, who live in an abandoned commune with only its controlling former leader for company. They spend their days keeping watch, preparing for the doomsday event they are sure is coming, but when a past resident of the commune returns, everything the twins know is thrown into question. “Dazzling, strange and incredibly moving, Redder Days is a stunning exploration of the consequences of power wielded by the wrong hands, the emotional impact of abandonment, and the resilience of the human spirit in the most hopeless of situations.”
Published in March by Doubleday
Magma by Thora Hjorleifsdottir, translated from the Icelandic by Meg Matich
This novella sounds like it could really pack a punch, as we follow a 20-year-old woman who finds herself trapped in an increasingly toxic relationship, and the damage this has on her sense of self. It “sheds light on the commonplace undercurrents of violence that so often go undetected” and “deftly illustrates the failings of psychiatric systems in recognizing symptoms of cruelty”. I love Iceland and have been keen to explore more of its literature, so this sounds like a great place to head next.
Published in July by Grove Atlantic
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
I’ve previously read and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of Fuller’s other novels. She writes quietly sinister literary fiction with keen psychological insight, and she does it so well.
Her new novel sounds like it could offer up a similar vibe, which I’m very pleased about. It follows a set of 51-year-old twins who have lived with their mother their entire lives, sheltered from society. When she dies, their sanctuary falls under threat and they must question everything they think they know about the world.
Published in January by Fig Tree
The Haunting Season: Nine Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights
This kind of does what it says on the tin, but what it says on the tin sounds right up my street. Plus, the line-up of authors included in this anthology is amazing, with several whose work I’ve already adored, like Sara Collins, Laura Purcell, Elizabeth Macneal, and Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
With a couple of others in the mix I’ve been meaning to try for a while, I’m hoping this could be a perfect book to pick up when Halloween rolls around again.
Published in October by Sphere
Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
Speaking of Elizabeth Macneal, I adored The Doll Factory when I read it earlier this year and I’m so excited to hear she has another gothic historical fiction novel coming out soon. Set in Coastal England in 1866, Nell is ostracised for the birthmarks that cover her body. Though she suffers the ultimate betrayal when her father sells her to a Circus of Wonders, she soon finds kinship with her fellow performers. But when her unexpected stardom threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her, the novel becomes “an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.”
Published in May by Pan Macmillan
I’ll leave it there for now. By all means, let me know which 2021 releases you’re most excited for, and any you think I should have on my radar!