Make room on your nightstand for a plethora of exciting new reads right into next summer Here’s a sneak peek of the best to come:
A new Isabel Allende for a new year is most welcome and here Violeta (Bloomsbury), who is 100 years old, tells her extraordinary story. While Violeta’s had a century, Jet Owens has only seven days left to live in Alice Hoffman’s The Book of Magic (Scribner) and requires some urgent ‘practical magic’. Death in Glasgow leaves McCormack with a string of murders to solve in Liam McIlvanney’s The Heretic (HarperCollins), while a mystery illness has gripped the children of Ballylack in Jan Carson’s The Raptures (Doubleday), exposing some ugly home truths. Agatha Christie’s disappearance in 1926 is the basis of Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair (Mantle), a mystery novel which “out-Christies Agatha”. Roundabout of Death by Faysal Khartash (Head of Zeus) chronicles the atrocities in Aleppo following the Arab Spring, as told by teacher Jumaa. Hanya Yanagihara reimagines America in To Paradise (Picador) while Anthem by Noah Hawley (Hodder Studio) is set in an America in ruins, where the young have to save the country from apocalypse. WC Ryan’s The Winter Guest (Bonnier) mixes murder mystery with ghost story, set in a Big House during the Irish Civil War.
The centenary of the publication of Ulysses prompts some fine books to come out and New Island is first off the block with Daniel Mulhall’s Ulysses: A Reader’s Odyssey, an essential reader’s introduction. Emma Gannon’s Disconnected (Hodder & Stoughton) presents an examination of the good, the bad and the ugly in social media. The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan (William Collins) uses cold case investigation techniques to discover who betrayed the Franks to the Nazis. The Nazi invasion is the basis for Mike Anderson’s The Ticket Collector from Belarus (Simon & Schuster). Closer to home, Julieann Campbell’s On Bloody Sunday (Monoray) promises previously unpublished information about that awful day in Derry. How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur (Quercus) is a journey, by the creator of Netflix’s The Good Place, through 2,000 years of philosophy.
Irish authors seem to dominate this month, with Marian Keyes’s Again, Rachel (Penguin) catching up with Rachel 25 years on, and Rachael English’s The Letter Home (Hachette) telling the story of Bridget Moloney in Famine Ireland and her connection to contemporary Boston. Niamh Campbell’s We Were Young (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) sees protagonist Cormac adrift in a constantly changing Dublin, while haunted by a death in the family. Death is the stuff of Patricia Gibney’s novels and in Buried Angels (Sphere), Lottie Parker investigates the murders of at least two children. Eithne Shortall’s It Could Never Happen Here (Atlantic) takes motherhood to a hilariously new level of madness while American author Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans (Pan Macmillan) is an exploration of secrets and shame in a New York Irish family. Wendy Erskine’s second anthology of short stories, Dance Move (Stinging Fly) is not to be missed. Audrey Magee’s The Colony (Faber) has a painter and a writer arriving on a small island off the west coast of Ireland and a reckoning is soon to follow. The Sussex coast is the setting for Alex Preston’s Winchelsea (Canongate), where young Goody Brown seeks vengeance for her father’s murder in an 18th century lawless town.
Death by Shakespeare by Kathryn Harkup (Bloomsbury) forensically examines all the murders in Shakespeare’s plays from a contemporary viewpoint, drawing many amusing conclusions. Jonathan Joly’s All My Friends are Invisible (Quercus) is a painful childhood memoir of being ‘different’ in 1980s Ireland while Shaneda Daly’s Sins of the Father (Bonnier) recounts an entire childhood of family sexual abuse. No One Around Here Reads Tolstoy by Mark Hodkinson (Canongate) is another memoir, this time about a love affair with books. Annabel Streets’s 52 Ways to Walk (Bloomsbury) urges readers to put on walking shoes, offering a weekly, new perspective on walking, no matter where you live.
Sarah Vaughan’s Reputations (Simon & Schuster) finds British MP Emma Webster protesting her innocence of the murder of a journalist. Murder is also the focus in Lynda La Plante’s Vanished (Zaffre) where a case of an old lady being stalked soon leads to a dead body. Alan Titchmarsh is more than a gardener, he’s a bestselling novelist too. The Gift (Hodder & Stoughton) is his latest, about reluctant healer Adam Gabriel coming to terms with the ties that bind. Lucy Caldwell’s These Days (Faber) has sisters Emma and Audrey trying to survive the Belfast Blitz of 1941. Siblings are also the focus in contemporary Paris, the setting for Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment (William Morrow). Jess is down on her luck and flees to Paris to stay with her brother. But he’s missing and might be dead. Harlan Coben’s regular-as-clockwork new thriller is The Match (Penguin). When Wilde goes digging around ancestry websites in search of his roots, he gets more than he bargained for. James Runcie’s The Great Passion (Bloomsbury) is a novel revering the life and work of JS Bach, as told by a young boy soprano in Leipzig.
The Last Good Funeral of the Year by Ed O’Loughlin (Riverrun) is a memoir prompted by the untimely death of a friend whose funeral took place in February 2020, just before Covid struck. My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden (Fourth Estate) exposes the negligence of NGOs and corruption within the UN in this testament of the appalling suffering of north African migrants. Joe Wicks’s Feel Good Food (HC) has more than 100 easy family recipes to keep us all in optimum health. Noam Chomsky’s Chronicles of Dissent (Penguin) has much to say about the war on drugs, political correctness, social media and many other topics in this transcription of 16 lengthy interviews. How to Solve a Crime by Prof Angela Gallop (Hodder & Stoughton) promises lots of nuggets of information on how the professionals gather their evidence. Trust the Plan by Will Sommer (HC) follows the rise of QAnon and conspiracy theorists in the US since the onset of Covid.
Sara Baume’s Seven Steeples (Tramp Press) tells the story of new lovers Bell and Sigh, who decide to isolate themselves from friends and family in a remote location on the West Cork coast. Julian Barnes’ Elizabeth Finch (Penguin) is about Neil, Professor Finch’s philosophy student, who continues her good work after her death in a novel about philosophy, history and unrequited love. All Along the Echo by Danny Denton (Atlantic) is a rare thing; a road trip set in Ireland. Ageing talk show host Tony Cooney and his producer Lou take a trip cross-country as a publicity stunt, and find themselves having to adapt to a rapidly changing Ireland. Adrian Duncan’s The Geometer Lobachevsky (Lilliput) has Soviet mathematician Lobachevsky assisting in a 1950s Bord na Móna land survey. When Russia orders him home, Lobachevsky gets other ideas. In Sheila O’Flanagan’s What Eden Did Next (Headline) we meet Eden, five years widowed, reconnecting with an old flame she knew before her husband, but her in-laws are hellbent on interfering. Ali Smith’s Companion Piece (Hamish Hamilton) concludes her ‘seasonal’ novels, focusing on the importance of companionship but also of freedom of movement in an age when we’ve become ‘stuck’. Louise Kennedy’s Trespasses (Bloomsbury) examines love and loyalty in the height of the Troubles, with Cushla Lavery trapped in the crossfire between warring factions. Cathy Kelly’s The Wedding Party (Orion) has four sisters reuniting for a wedding after 15 years, with the strain of family secrets threatening to destroy the big day.
This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music, edited by Sinéad Gleeson and Kim Gordon (White Rabbit), challenges the male-dominated historical narrative of music, with essays by many of our most distinguished female writers. Sebastian Barry’s The Lives of the Saints (Faber), Barry’s first nonfiction book is described as an intimate and reflective companion piece to his fiction. In Hunting Ghislaine (Hodder & Stoughton) John Sweeney argues Ghislaine Maxwell’s monster of a father, Robert Maxwell, had damaged her beyond fixing, long before she ever met Jeffrey Epstein. You’re Doing It Wrong by Kevin Power (Lilliput) is a collection of essays from 2008 to the present day from the author of White City. Bessborough by Deirdre Finnerty (Hachette) tells the harrowing stories of three brave mother-and-baby home women over three decades.
Martina Devlin’s Edith (Lilliput), a novel based on the life of author Edith Somerville, is one to watch out for this month. Fight Night by Miriam Toews (Faber) has young Swiv, expelled from school, being home-schooled by her eccentric Amish grandmother. David Parks’ Spies in Canaan (Bloomsbury) is about a Vietnam veteran compelled to journey into the desert to atone for his war memories. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (Pushkin) follows the lives of a group of black church women and has been sold to HBO already. Louise O’Neill’s Idol (Transworld) has Samantha Miller discovering the dangers of being an ‘influencer’. Sinéad Crowley’s The Belladonna Maze (Aria) is about a missing girl, set in a Big House in the west of Ireland.
Hell and Other Destinations by Madeleine Albright (HC) lifts the lid on her time as a US Secretary of state. The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight (Faber) is about London psychiatrist John Barker’s work with people who correctly predicted major disasters. I Used to Live Here Once by Miranda Seymour (William Collins) is a new biography of the troubled writer Jean Rhys.
Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen (John Murray) has young Maeve witnessing tensions rising in a Northern Ireland factory as marching season approaches. Twelve Months and a Day by Louisa Young (Borough Press) explores the pains of recent widowhood from the perspectives of Rasmus and Roisin. The Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi (Scribner) follows young Zuhur from Oman trying to build a life for herself in Britain.
David Sedaris’ Happy-Go-Lucky (Little, Brown) is yet another collection of observances on the absurdities of life. Sheila Hancock’s memoir Old Rage (Bloomsbury) promises to be funny, feisty and honest. And in the centenary of Bloomsday, The Book About Everything edited by Declan Kiberd, Enrico Terrinoni and Catherine Wilsden (Apollo) has 18 writers, including Joseph O’Connor and Mario Vargas Llosa, explore a chapter each of Ulysses.