Monday 18 February 2019

The 72 books we’ll all be talking about in the first half of 2019

 

Author Christine Dwyer Hickey. Photo: David Conachy
Author Christine Dwyer Hickey. Photo: David Conachy
Ian McEwan
Emma Dabiri
Colm O'Regan
Jo Spain
Joseph O'Connor
Tracey Thorn
Marlon James

We look ahead to some of the most-anticipated titles hitting the shelves in the first half of this year.

January

Darkest Truth by Catherine Kirwan

(Century, out now)

Described as a #MeToo thriller, the debut crime novel from solicitor Kirwan takes as its premise a suspicious suicide, a predatory film director and the woman determined to bring him to justice.

We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai

(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, January 8)

Part memoir, part communal storytelling, We are Displaced combines the experiences of Malala - the Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner - with the accounts of displaced girls she has met while visiting refugee camps around the world.

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

(Chatto & Windus, January 10)

When Professor Chandra has a near-death experience, his life's work, rather than his life, flashes before his eyes. Following his doctor's advice, he embarks on a trip in this story about self-examination and family healing that has been praised by Marian Keyes for its tenderness and humour.

Music Love Drugs War by Geraldine Quigley

(Fig Tree, January 10)

Irish writing gets off to a promising start in 2019 with a string of debuts to watch. Among the January titles is Quigley's first novel, set in 1980s Derry. Music Love Drugs War follows a group of young adults whose lives change when a friend is killed and some of them choose to fight.

A River in the Trees by Jacqueline O'Mahony

(Riverrun, January 10)

O'Mahony's first novel is a dual narrative, taking place in 2019 and 1919. Hannah and Ellen, her two protagonists, are separated by a century but linked by ancestry, history and secrets.

Annelies by David R Gillham

(Viking, January 15)

In Annelies, Gillham - who wrote the bestselling City of Women - imagines what would have happened if Anne Frank had survived the Holocaust. May 2019 also sees the Bloomsbury publication of Frank's complete works to mark what would have been her 90th birthday.

How to Feel the Fear and Eat it ­Anyway by Eve Simmons and Laura Dennison

(Mitchell Beazley, January 17)

In How to Feel the Fear and Eat it Anyway, journalists Simmons and Dennison - founders of the website Not Plant Based - aim to dispel dietary myths and help others, who like them, have suffered from eating disorders, to rediscover their love of food.

My Coney Island Baby by Billy ­O'Callaghan

(Jonathan Cape, January 17)

The debut novel from O'Callaghan, who has written two collections of short stories, My Coney Island Baby is a story of late-flowering intimacy that condenses the lives of its two main characters into a single day.

Notes on Jackson and His Dead by Hugh Fulham-McQuillan

(Dalkey Archive Press, January 20)

Fulham-McQuillan has had work published in the Stinging Fly and Gorse magazine. Playful and erudite, the 18 stories in his first collection have been compared to the work of Borges, Barthelme and Edgar Allan Poe.

For the Good Times by David Keenan

(Faber, January 24)

Like Music Love Drugs War, Keenan's second novel is set during the Troubles and centres around a group of friends who, in this case, become embroiled in the violence of 1970s Belfast. A Scottish music critic, Keenan was widely praised for his experimental first novel, This is Memorial Device.

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

(Orion, January 24)

A new standalone thriller from the Belfast author of the Eddie Flynn series, Twisted features a bestselling crime writer and mystery man who is wanted by the police for murder.

The Great Wide Open by Douglas ­Kennedy

(Hutchinson, January 24)

Amid the excesses of 1980s New York, a young book editor is propelled into examining her life and difficult, complex family. The Great Wide Open is the 13th novel from the writer of The Pursuit of Happiness and The Big Picture.

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

(Sceptre, January 24)

The subject of a four-way UK publisher auction, Griffin's first novel is written in the voice of 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. Over the course of an evening in a Co Meath hotel, Maurice's story of wealth, tragedy and secret love emerges.

Maid by Stephanie Land

(Trapeze, ­January 24)

As a maid, Land was a "nameless ghost" in the houses of America's upper-middle class. Here, she tells the stories of the overworked and underpaid, and recounts her own struggles as a single parent trying to navigate her way out of poverty.

The Cosmic Mystery Tour by Nicholas Mee

(Oxford Press, January 31)

The ever-popular science writer takes us on a lightning tour of the mysteries of the universe, enlivened by brief stories of the colourful characters who created modern science. Here, he explores the cosmos from the outer fringes of science fiction to the ongoing search for alien civilisations.

February

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Marlon James
 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

(Hamish Hamilton, February 5)

The follow-up to the Man Booker-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings was always going to be a key title, and James's book mixes up fantasy, history, adventure and African mythology to deliver a title that's quite unlike all other literary fare. In this first part of the Dark Star Trilogy, a gang of dangerous hunters, among them the especially gifted Tracker, are intent on finding a mysterious missing boy. They travel through citadels, darklands and rivers, meeting creatures intent on destroying them all the while.

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Tracey Thorn

Another Planet: A Teenager In ­Suburbia by Tracey Thorn

(Canongate, February 7)

The world may know her now as the author of the fantastic Disco Bedsit Queen and one half of Everything But The Girl, but back in the 1970s she was a typical teenager, straining at the leash to get out and see the rest of the world. Her diary entries are likely to be hilariously familiar to many: from not being allowed to school discos, not having enough money, and worshipping pop stars that, in Thorn's case at least, provided a glimmer of a life beyond the outskirts of London.

The Border: The Legacy of a Century Of Anglo-Irish Politics by Diarmaid Ferriter

(Profile Books, February 7)

Diarmaid Ferriter's charting of the history of the Irish Republic/Northern Ireland border - starting with the 1920s Act to the Treaty - is timely, with its fate currently hanging in the balance. It's likely we'll hear a lot more of it soon, but this atmospheric and authoritative book examines the unobtrusive nature of the Border for the past two decades, and recalls the bad old days when watchtowers loomed large over communities and military checkpoints were commonplace.

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Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

(Bantam, February 7)

Fixie Farr got her nickname for a reason - she can't help straightening everything out and putting things right for others. She helps a handsome stranger look after his laptop in a busy coffee shop, setting off a chain of events that sees them do a series of favours for each other, a tango that's interrupted when Fixie's teenage crush, Ryan, careens back into her life and asks for help. A prime slice of joyous frivolity; the type that Kinsella has long been famed for.

Seven Signs Of Life by Aoife Abbey

(Vintage, February 7)

All of life is here in a hospital intensive care unit, and Abbey's memoir runs the full emotional gamut. Seen through the eyes of a doctor who literally makes life or death decisions every day, this may be the latest in a sizeable wave of medical memoirs, but features a truly unforgettable cast of people.

The 7-Day Soul by Susannah Healy

(Hachette Ireland, February 7)

Wellness experts have long made a case for incorporating more spirituality into our lives, and psychologist/mindfulness meditation teacher Healy offers a guide for integrating it into personal, family and public lives. A decent punt for anyone looking to reboot their mental, emotional and physical well-being.

You Know You Want This: 'Cat Person' & Other ­Stories by Kirsten Roupenian

(Jonathan Cape, February 7)

Originally published in the New Yorker, 'Cat Person' - detailing a deeply unsatisfying sexual encounter and ensuing fling - became the most-read and most-shared story in the ­publications' history. A multiway auction later, and Roupenian has delivered a dozen short stories in the same astute, wry vein. Many of them are sex-soaked and darkly comic, proving that the brilliant, understated 'Cat Person' was no one-off.

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Jo Spain

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

(Quercus, February 7)

Hot on the heels of RTÉ's Taken Down (which Dubliner Spain co-wrote) comes this taut and intriguing psychological thriller. Set in the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, Olive Collins' dead body has been rotting inside one of the beautifully appointed houses for months. As police start to interrogate her neighbours, the smooth and untroubled façades they're each at pains to upkeep start to crumble.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

(Little, Brown, February 7)

Melbourne's Harper (The Dry, Force of Nature) tells a story of two brothers coming together to address the third brother's disappearance in the sun-baked vastness of cattle-ranch Australia. A star of crime fiction Down Under, Harper puts the unforgiving terrain of her home continent to dark and unsettling use.

Parkland by Dave Cullen

(Riverrun, February 14)

Journalist Cullen had already delivered a definitive account of the Columbine massacre in 1999, and here he turns his high-powered acumen to the Parkland, Florida school shooting and the #NeverAgain campaign for gun control, as run by its teenage survivors. It's an intimate and forensic account of a tragedy that never should have happened, albeit one that kick-started a revolution.

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Colm O'Regan

Ann Devine: Ready For Her Close-Up by Colm O'Regan

(Transworld, ­February 15)

O'Regan has long perfected the Irish Mammy in his bestselling series of books, and she is writ large here, "a riddle, wrapped up in a fleece, inside a Škoda Octavia". Ann Devine is an empty nester thrown suddenly into the world of the Tidy Towns committee. As a TV crew rolls into town, and under the comedian O'Regan's assured steerage, hilarity naturally ensues.

The Wych Elm by Tana French

(Penguin/Viking, February 21)

French's latest title is already eliciting praise - John Boyne has described it as 'unputdownable' - and no wonder: French is the doyenne of writing genre-bending crime thrillers. Here, the protagonist Toby has led a charmed life until a brutal attack leaves him traumatised. He returns to his family home, the Ivy House, in search of solace and sanctuary. The grim discovery of a human skull tucked inside the old wych elm in the garden soon puts paid to that. Spellbinding stuff, delivered in crackling literary prose.

A Mouth Full of Blood by Toni ­Morrison

(Chatto & Windus, February 21)

The release of any Morrison title is a cause for celebration, and this non-fiction collection of essays, meditations and speeches is a high-tide release of 2019. Spanning four decades, Morrison debates race, gender, globalisation, American politics and the press with the lyrical expertise and elegance for which she has been long renowned.

The Gift Of Friends by Emma Hannigan

(Hachette Ireland, February 28)

Hannigan's final novel is as life-affirming as you might think, celebrating as it does the joys and complexity of female friendship. Emma completed the novel, sending her acknowledgements to her editor just days before she passed away last summer. A must-read for many reasons.

 

March

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Author Christine Dwyer Hickey. Photo: David Conachy
 

The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey

(Atlantic, March 7)

The multiple award-winning Dubliner returns with her first novel since 2015, a book Colum McCann praises for its "beguiling grace and deceptive simplicity". In Cape Cod in late summer 1950, a 10-year-old German war orphan and the son of an American officer killed in action strike up an unlikely friendship with artists Edward (he of the famous night-time café scenes) and Jo Hopper.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor ­Jenkins Reid

(Hutchinson, March 7)

No less a name than Reese Witherspoon is bigging up this novel about a 1970s rock band - and it looks like it rocks. Daisy Jones & The Six once sold out arenas around the world, adored by millions. Then in June 1979, they split up. Nobody knew why: until now. And a one, two, three, four…

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

(Tinder Press, March 7)

Tramp co-founder Davis-Goff turns from publisher to author with her debut novel, a kind of Hibernian cross between classic dystopias such as The Road and 28 Days Later. Ireland has been decimated by an otherworldly plague called the skrake. When the woman who raised her gets infected, Orpen, raised on a small island, must embark on a perilous search for a cure.

The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan

(Sphere, March 7)

Irish-born but now domiciled in Australia, McTiernan follows up The Ruin with the latest in her Detective Cormac Reilly series of police procedurals. When his girlfriend Emma stumbles on a hit-and-run victim, Reilly is drawn into a tangled murder-mystery, involving the scion of Ireland's biggest pharmaceutical company. Well-crafted and with punchy plots, McTiernan's novels have made her an international bestseller.

Irish Aran by Vawn Corrigan

(O'Brien Press, March 11)

First in a new series from O'Brien Press celebrating our heritage, Irish Aran explores the history, tradition and unique legacy of the famous knitwear. In a beautifully presented hardback, Corrigan brings an expert eye to bear on this "living tradition with a worldwide reach". It began in the wilds of the eponymous islands, now Aran is seen as high fashion on global catwalks.

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Roddy Doyle. Photo: Mark Condren
 

Charlie Savage by Roddy Doyle

(Jonathan Cape, March 14)

Doyle's much-loved character was born in the pages of this newspaper's Weekend magazine. Now, for the first time, all the wit and wisdom - well, some wisdom - of the quintessential Dub are brought together in one compilation. Decent, funny, loyal and sometimes utterly bewildered by the modern world, Charlie muddles along as best he can… if his knees don't give out first.

Along Came Coco by Eva Byrne

(Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 19)

Illustrator Byrne, now resident in Sligo, is a New York Times No 1-bestselling Irish-American illustrator. In Along Came Coco, she showcases her writing skills as well, in a picture book which charts Coco Chanel's amazing journey "from rule-breaking orphan to fashion icon". And the drawings are so charming and stylish, that Coco herself would surely approve.

The Godfather: 50th Anniversary Edition by Mario Puzo

(William ­Heinemann, March 21)

Francis Ford Coppola's great movies not only made Puzo's book famous, it turned a literary potboiler into high cinematic art. Which is not to say that The Godfather novel - which draws together the storylines from the first two film adaptations - isn't worth reading. It's a furiously told, hugely entertaining yarn, muscular and rollicking, with Shakespearean themes and countless legendary scenes.

M For Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly

(Two Roads, March 21)

Channelling the warm heart and good cheer of Marian Keyes, this debut novel from O'Reilly - a teacher of English and Classical Studies in her day job - tells the very amusing story of the Augustt family. We meet the son who doesn't speak, the mother who's had a stroke, the granny who talks enough for the lot of them - and the daughter who's decided to write it all down.

Spring by Ali Smith

(Hamish Hamilton, March 28)

Booker-shortlisted Smith delivers the third instalment in her remarkable Seasonal Quartet series of standalone but interconnected novels. After the chilly clarity of Winter, the Scot turns her piercing gaze on spring. The leaves on the trees are opening; while the dawn is still cold, there's a sense of things growing "deep in the earth". Artful, ambitious and unique, in the best possible ways.

Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney

(Tramp Press, March 28)

The ground-breaking Irish independent publisher picks up the unexpected success of Emilie Pine's Notes to Self and runs with it. Minor Monuments, Tramp's second work of non-fiction, is a collection of essays described as "half-memoir, half-Odyssey". Blending the tone of Sara Baume and inquiring mind of Louis Theroux, Maleney pays homage to a rural Irish way of life in danger of vanishing forever.

 

April

Things In Jars by Jess Kidd

(Canongate, April 4)

London-Irish writer Kidd has won a legion of devoted fans with last year's charming offering The Hoarder, so Things in Jars is a hotly anticipated read. Here, Kidd turns her attentions to the Victorian detective novel and comes up trumps with the formidable Bridie Devine. Reeling from an assignment gone awry, Bridie is more determined than ever to crack her latest case; the kidnapping of a young child, against the murky underworld of the macabre curiosity show.

Hughie Mittman's Fear Of ­Lawnmowers by Conor Bowman

(Hachette Ireland, April 4)

Seven-year-old Hughie Mittman is having a hard year. Not only has he lost two toes in a lawnmower accident, he has also found out he is adopted. When he is 12, things get worse when his mother dies suddenly, leaving him alone with an indifferent father. Believing his mother's death and his father's unhappiness are his fault, Hughie is on a mission to make things right. By turns charming, textured and heartfelt, this is a perfect summer read.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne ­Harris

(Orion, April 4)

Chocolat author Harris returns with a slightly familiar, compelling tale: Vianne Rocher has settled in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with her child Rosette, and makes her home in the small French town that rejected her years before. She runs a chocolate shop in the square and soon starts to settle into daily life, but life gets complicated once more when the local florist leaves a parcel of land to Rosette after his death, along with a damning written confession.

The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan

(Riverrun, April 4)

Meath-born writer Kiernan delivers a taut and intriguing crime thriller. Murder convict Sean Hennessy has always professed his innocence, yet when two bodies show up in the peaceful Dublin suburb of Clontarf just weeks after his release from prison, many - including Detective Frankie Sheehan - find themselves retreading and doubting the analysis of old cases. Things ramp up a notch when the threats close in around Sheehan's own family.

Her Kind by Niamh Boyce

(Penguin ­Ireland, April 4)

The author of the critically acclaimed novel The Herbalist returns with a tale of dark intrigue, re-imagining the events leading up to the Kilkenny Witch Trial of 1324. Petronelle decides to seek refuge in the home of an old friend, Alice. The friend gives her friend a job as a servant and advice on how to hide her old identity. It's not long before Alice's home is no longer a place of sanctuary, yet by the time she decides to flee, there's even more at stake. It's a testament to Boyce's sleight of hand that the historical tale takes on fresh resonance in the current #MeToo climate.

Just One More Question by Niall Tubridy

(Penguin, April 4)

Niall - brother to RTÉ star Ryan - is one of Ireland's leading neurologists, and with a dramatic and moving writing style, details his work, his interactions with a variety of patients and what can be learned from this "high-stakes detective work" where unearthing answers can make or break a life.

55 by James Delargy

(Simon & ­Schuster, April 4)

Irish-born migrant writer Delargy makes his debut with this delicious-sounding Western Australian thriller. A hitch-hiker is drugged and chained up in the remote Outback, only to escape and find a police station. The next day, a man walks in and tells police the exact same story, claiming he in fact is the victim. Could be fun.

How To Fail by Elizabeth Day

(Fourth Estate, April 4)

Known to many as the author of the bestselling novel The Party, Day also runs a hugely popular podcast, How to Fail. Part-memoir, part-manifesto, Day gleans on years as a celebrity journalist and writes on dating, sport, relationships and friendships, reminding us that learning how to fail is merely learning how to succeed better.

White by Bret Easton Ellis

(Picador, April 16)

Never one to pull his punches, this collection of essays and ruminations (the US star's maiden non-fiction voyage) from Easton Ellis promises to bring a no-nonsense tone to the perversions of the social media age as he views them. The American Psycho author is often as funny as he is scathing, so this should ruffle a few feathers. You have been warned.

A Book Of Bones by John Connolly

(Hodder & Stoughton, April 18)

One of our finest crime writers returns with the 17th instalment of the popular Charlie Parker series. Here, the action spans continents, pinging from the forests of Maine and the canals of Amsterdam to the Mexican border. Yet again, Parker is hell-bent on avenging the world's ills.

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Ian McEwan

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

(Jonathan Cape, April 18)

The king of the high-concept title returns, and not a moment too soon. In 1980s London, feckless drifter Charlie falls in love with bright student Miranda. Charlie suddenly and mysteriously comes into money, and decides to buy one of the first batch of synthetic humans with it. With Miranda's assistance, he co-designs Adam's personality, resulting in a truly bizarre love triangle. Subversive and unforgettably written, as only McEwan knows how.

The Doctor Who Sat For A Year by Brendan Kelly

(Gill Books, April TBC)

Professing himself a 'Zen failure', psychiatrist Brendan Kelly decided on a taste of his own medicine and took up meditation for a year, on a quest of self-betterment. While he realises that finding inner peace, even in just meditating for 15 minutes a day, is as straightforward as he anticipated; the distractions were more plentiful than he bargained for. A funny and insightful book on meditation and our chase for inner contentment.

May

Rules Of The Road by Ciara Geraghty

(Hachette Ireland, May 2)

The title caused quite a frisson at the Frankfurt Book Fair before it was snapped up by Lynne Drew, Cecelia Ahern's publisher. Iris Armstrong goes missing, prompting her best friend Terry to set out to track her down. Terry joins her on a road trip that will take them in unexpected directions and change everything. It's this year's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, if industry chatter is anything to go by.

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Emma Dabiri

Don't Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

(Allen Lane, May 2)

The Irish-Nigerian commentator and academic casts her eye over the ways in which African or "black" hair and hairstyling is erased, appropriated, or stigmatised in modern pop culture, despite all the advances being made to embrace diversity.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

(Zaffre, May 2)

Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz should probably keep an eye out for this redemptive tale of hope in the midst of shocking adversity. A couple are left shattered when war is visited upon their lives in Aleppo. They are duly forced to make a perilous journey through Europe, carrying the pain of what they have endured as well as hope for what awaits them at their destination. Bees and beekeeping are likely to provide the stimulating MacGuffin.

Molly's Will by Elske Rahill

(Head of Zeus, May 2)

Four generations are spanned as a great grandmother reflects on her working-class Dublin roots while trying to shore-up her will and help her beloved granddaughters negotiate motherhood. Expect an unflinching take on the types of sparks that only fly within families in this latest from France-based Dubliner Rahill.

Working with Winston by Cita ­Stelzer

(Head of Zeus, May 7)

With the darker facts of his prime ministry persistently overlooked, the cult of Churchill shows no sign of dissipating. Those wishing for an insider look, might find some nuggets in these accounts by the personal secretaries and typists who worked under the infamously bad-tempered cigar-chomping prime minister. Barked admonishments and Cognac breath should feature.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

(Hodder & Stoughton, May 7)

The Old World and New are bridged via a fiery set of sisters and a dramatic family saga. This year's Captain Corelli's Mandolin? Who knows, but chances are it may well find its way to plenty of sun-loungers this summer.

The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

(Chatto & Windus, May 9)

While The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time feels like a lifetime ago, Haddon's recent short-story collection, The Pier Falls, was a reminder to all that the English author still has a lot to say. This family saga takes in an infant survivor of a terrifying plane crash, a wealthy but cloistered upbringing, and family secrets being exhumed.

An Unquiet Heart by Martin Sixsmith

(Scribner, May 16)

Sixsmith, author of The Lost Child of Philomena Lee (the source story for the popular film Philomena), novelises the life of early 20th-century Russian poet Sergei Yesenin, who embraced a rackety lifestyle as violence, revolution and fear gripped the crumbling empire. A big hook here could be the dishevelled setting, an era where poets were akin to rock stars, who were as at home in the palaces of power as they were in dens of hair-raising iniquity.

Elsewhere: One Woman, One ­Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel by Rosita Boland

(Doubleday Ireland, May 30)

GPS and sanitised tourist routes have ensured that travel just isn't what it used to be. What remains, however, is the need to be immersed in ­unfamiliar climes, something journalist Rosita Boland knows all about in her 30 years of ­backpacking in remote corners. Here, she ­chronicles nine journeys that took place at ­intimate junctions in her life, and posits that travel is a duet between the outward and the inward.

The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper

(Simon & Schuster, May 30)

The Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 saw 180 inhabitants of Victoria's Latrobe Valley lose their lives. Hooper tells of the manhunt for the "firebug" who lit two fires one day and then sat on his roof to watch the impending carnage, while also panning back to look at the psychology of pyromania and the complicated role of fire in the Australian landscape.

 

June

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

(Bloomsbury, June 4)

Gilbert (author of the wildly popular Eat, Pray, Love) swoops back just in time for the beach-read season with this tale of an elderly woman looking back on her life-altering sexual awakening in 1940s New York. Expect a fit-for-purpose romp from the New York Times bestselling author.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

(Hamish ­Hamilton, June 4)

The ground beneath our feet, from stone, ice and clay, to subterranean lives and deaths: this is the latest realm to receive a close, lyrical, and mind-stretching treatment from the greatest nature writer of his generation. A sneak-peak suggests that the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Old Ways and The Lost Words is at the peak of his powers.

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Joseph O'Connor

Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor

(Harvill Secker, June 6)

The actor Henry Irving is accepted as one of the main inspirations for Dracula, the species-conquering monster created by Irving's unassuming Lyceum Theatre manager, Bram Stoker. In the hands of O'Connor, this late 19th-century saga about Irving, Stoker, leading lady Ellen Terry, and the journey they took together, should make for consuming historical fiction.

My Name is Monster by Katie Hale

(Canongate, June 6)

A post-apocalyptic survival epic rooted in maternal themes, anyone? Award-winning Cumbrian poet Hale makes her fiction debut here. A protagonist known only as "monster" emerges from her offshore lair after disease and war have almost wiped out the whole of mankind. The discovery of a young feral girl changes everything, of course.

My Seditious Heart by Arundhati Roy

(Hamish Hamilton, June 6)

The radical blood that courses through Roy is laid bare in this collection of non-fiction essays. On display are the rigorous political leanings that consumed the two-decade fiction hiatus that occurred between her 1997 Booker-winner The God of Small Things and 2017's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

The Book of Kells by Victoria ­Whitworth

(Head of Zeus, June 13)

Too often reduced to either a tourist-trail box to be ticked or a tired relic of school history lessons, The Book of Kells is in fact a text filled with mystery, enigma and unanswered questions. In this book, Victoria Whitworth awakens the mystique of this world-famous manuscript, presenting it in fresh clothing as an artefact whose puzzles and conundrums are a big part of its allure.

Frederick the Second: Wonder of the World 1194-1250 by Ernst ­Kantorowicz

(Apollo, June 13)

A life of incredible achievement and a footprint that spread from Germany to the Middle East, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was referred to as "the wonder of the world" during his reign in the 12th century. Kantorowicz's bestselling 1927 biography is repackaged so that a new generation can learn about one of the most probing minds in history. Fun fact: Ever the scientist, Frederick once cut open two slaves to see how their contrasting work-to-rest ratios had affected digestion.

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

(Doubleday, June 18)

Since her last novel, Transcription, courted rave reviews on release in September, the tireless Atkinson is back on the shelves with this literary crime novel. Her detective Jackson Brodie is laying low in a quiet seaside village while collecting evidence on a cheating husband when a chance encounter sucks him into a world of darkness.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

(Canongate, June 20)

"Sex and death and narcotics" is said to be on the menu in this achingly anticipated new outing from the singular Kevin Barry. Throw in two ailing Irish gangsters, a missing girl and a hint of the occult, and the strong likelihood is another darkly comic slab of mischief that may well dominate discussion on these shores.

Lost You by Haylen Beck

(Harvill Secker, june 20)

Beck - otherwise known as award-winning emerald noir exponent Stuart Neville - won many friends with his tidy, excruciating 2018 thriller Here and Gone. The themes of abduction and paranoia remain in this new crime novel about a missing boy and the mother fighting tooth and nail to discover the truth of his whereabouts. Early reports are promising.

Compiled by Rachel Dugan, Hilary A White, Tanya Sweeney, Darragh McManus and Joanne Hayden

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