With new novels in the pipeline from big names such as Arundhati Roy and Paula Hawkins, as well as much-hyped debuts from a clutch of exciting young authors, 2017 looks set to be a bumper year for book lovers.
Whether you’re after something timely to help you make sense of Trump’s victory or wild escapism so you can forget all about it, here are the books you might want to keep an eye out for this year:
Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra
From terror attacks to Trump and Twitter wars, anger seems to be the predominant emotion in public life at the moment.
Pankaj Mishra’s book, which fellow author John Banville calls “urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely”, explores how globalism, technology and the West’s botched foreign policy have left hundreds of millions of people angry, lost and ready to embrace radicalism of all kinds.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
An ambitious debut novel which stretches from 18th-century Ghana to the present day, Homecoming follows the diverging paths of sisters Esi and Effia and their descendants after Esi is sold into the US slave trade and Effia remains in West Africa as a wealthy slave trader’s wife.
Yaa Gyasi “shares [Toni] Morrison’s uncanny ability to crystallise, in a single event, slavery’s moral and emotional fallout”, says Us vogue. “No novel has better illustrated the way in which racism became institutionalised in this country.”
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Hawkins’s debut novel, The Girl on the Train, has been one of the most talked-about books in the last couple of years, so following it up was always going to be tough.
Into the Water traces a similar path of murder, mystery and deception as its predecessor, revolving around the case of a single mother and a teenager found dead in the same river, months apart. Expect twists and turns aplenty as the deaths dredge up a small town’s murkiest secrets.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
It has been 20 years since Arundhati Roy published her Booker prize-winning debut novel The God of Small Things, so the release of her second book, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is “perhaps the most eagerly awaited book of the year”, says the Guardian
The first reviews will appear closer to the book’s release date, but the publisher promises “a glorious cast of unforgettable characters, caught up in the tide of history”.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
“Mohsin Hamid seems to know what we’ll be talking about before we do,” says Literacy hub, citing the British Pakistani author’s unusual spin on the contemporary issues of migration and displacement.
Exit West is “a timely love story”, says the Daily Telegraph, that opens in an unnamed city on the brink of violent collapse. But then the action takes a sharp twist into magical realism, as lovers-turned-refugees Saeed and Nadia discover a literal “portal” to the outside world.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
In the 1920s, Oklahoma’s Osage Indians became incredibly wealthy thanks to the discovery of oil on their tribal lands. And then the murders started.
One for true crime fanatics, New Yorker journalist Grann unravels the dark tale of a greed-fuelled campaign of murder which left at least 60 Osage people dead, and how the newly-formed FBI battled a conspiracy of silence and the indifference of local law officers to catch the killers.
How the Hell Did This Happen: The US Election of 2016 by PJ O’Rourke
Who better than one of America’s most-respected humourists to make sense of an election in which real life frequently appeared to approach satire?
“Crumpled, rumpled, charming, chaotic, funny, clever”, O’Rourke has long been one of the few outspoken Republican voices in mainstream political satire, says The Guardian. In How the Hell Did This Happen: The US Election of 2016, O’Rourke tackles the complex topic of how his party ended up nominating a man he has called a “lunatic” – and how that “lunatic” won.
Smile by Roddy Doyle
In the latest novel from the celebrated chronicler of Irish life, a chance meeting in a pub leads a man to reflect on his life and confront the confused memories of his childhood at a Christian Brothers school.
Little else is known of the plot, but “the phrases ‘blackly funny’ and ‘heart-breaking’ have been overheard”, says the Irish Independent, suggesting fans of Doyle’s previous bestsellers, including The Commitments and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, will not be disappointed.
Origin by Dan Brown
Brown’s clunky descriptions and wobbly grammar may leave literary snobs tearing their hair out, but millions have fallen under the page-turning spell of his globetrotting thrillers.
His Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon returns this autumn and according to The bookseller, the adventure-loving academic will deal with “codes, science, religion, history, art and architecture” and an “earth-shaking discovery” – all guaranteed to please Brown’s fans.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
The hype is steadily building for the release of the celebrated short story author’s first novel, set after the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie during the US civil war. Historical fact mixes with supernatural elements as Willie’s death raises an array of talkative ghosts from the “bardo”, a Tibetan version of the afterlife. The result is a highly original, often humorous reimagining of history which never loses sight of the father-son bond at its heart. “Saunders’s enlivening imagination runs wild in detailing the ghosts’ bizarre manifestations, but melancholy is the novel’s dominant tone,” says Publishers weekly
Winter by Ali Smith
A follow-up to last year’s acclaimed Autumn, Winter is the second installment in Scottish writer Smith’s planned seasonal quartet. Autumn, a meditation on time and memory revolving around the relationship between a young academic and her dying mentor, was heralded by The Guardian as a “beautiful, poignant symphony”. Smith has kept quiet about what readers can expect from Winter, but told the Paper she saw the season as “a place where you can see really clearly”.
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
The latest novel from the acclaimed author of the New York Trilogy tracks protagonist Archie Ferguson as his life unravels on four parallel timelines.
As the alternative scenarios diverge further and further, it becomes increasingly tricky to keep track of the characters, says USA today, but Auster’s 900-page tome “must be applauded for its ambition” nonetheless.
The “fine-grained scene-setting” can’t help but pull the reader in, says The Guardian, even if sentences have a tendency to run on and the intriguing premise eventually evens out into a “largely unsurprising coming-of-age tale”.
The Patriots by Sana Krasikov
Bored and idealistic city girl Florence Fein quits her native Brooklyn at the height of the Great Depression to embrace Stalin’s socialist utopia in the USSR.
Years later, her oil executive son Julian digs into her past to unravel the story of her younger years. Unable to return to the US and unwilling to part with her ideals, Florence is drawn deeper into the increasingly brutal and totalitarian state.
The Patriots is “a historical romance in the old style”, says the New York Times. “Multigenerational, multi-narrative, intercontinental, laden with back stories and historical research, moving between scrupulous detail and sweeping panoramas.”