There are a lot of new books coming in 2021. Here are the titles I am looking forward to reading the most, although I probably won’t get round to all of them this year. All publication dates where known apply to the United Kingdom only.
High-profile debut novels out in early 2021 include Luster by Raven Leilani and No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood whose memoir Priestdaddy I reviewed last month. Several of the books I will be looking out for are second novels by authors who have written impressive debuts. Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley is set in modern-day Soho in London and sounds like a real departure from the Booker Prize-shortlisted Elmet. The High House by Jessie Greengrass is the second novel by the author of Sight. It addresses climate change and is out in April. Panenka by Ronan Hessian sees the author of the word-of-mouth success Leonard and Hungry Paul return with his new novel in May about a man who is living with mistakes he made in the past. Out in February, Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford tells the possible stories of five children if they hadn’t been killed by a V2 bomb in London in 1944 – a very different concept and setting from the 18th century New York depicted in his debut Golden Hill.
I am aiming to read more fiction in translation, and there are a few French titles I will be looking out for this year. All Human Wisdom by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne) is the second book in the French author’s Between the Wars trilogy following The Great Swindle. Having featured it in my 2019 and 2020 most anticipated blog posts under a different title, I am hoping that 2021 will prove to be third time lucky and that it really will be published in June as planned. Also out this summer is The Country of Others by Leila Slimani (translated by Sam Taylor) which is the first book in the French author’s new trilogy set after the Second World War. Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal (translated by Jessica Moore) is a novel which explores the contemporary art world and will be published in March.
Several authors who have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize in recent years are publishing new novels this year. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is the author’s first novel to be published since he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and will undoubtedly be one of the biggest publishing events of the year in March. In May, China Room by Sunjeev Sahota tells the twin stories of a bride in 1920s Punjab and a young man who travels back to India from England in 1999. Due out in the autumn, Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet is about a series of notebooks which reveal the story of a young woman convinced that the 1960s psychotherapist, Arthur Collins Braithwaite, is responsible for her sister’s suicide.
In non-fiction, Nuclear Folly by Serhii Plokhy sees the author of Chernobyl looking at the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis in his latest book due out in April. I mentioned The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machell in my most anticipated books in 2020 blog post, but it got pushed back to January 2021 due to the pandemic. It is a true crime account about the case of Stephen Jackley, a convicted robber with a Robin Hood obsession and Asperger syndrome. The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy will be published in February and is a piece of investigative reportage about Flight MH370 which vanished in March 2014.
I enjoy reading memoirs and 2021 offers a diverse selection. Out in February, My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend by Tracey Thorn is the Everything but the Girl singer’s fourth book and focuses on her 37 year friendship with Lindy Morrison, the drummer of the Go-Betweens. Maybe I Don’t Belong Here by David Harewood follows the actor’s excellent BBC documentary Psychosis and Me in 2019 and his memoir due in September further explores his mental health breakdown thirty years ago. Also due in the autumn, Spiderwoman by Lady Hale is the UK supreme court’s first female president’s memoir, the title of which refers to the famous spider brooch she wore when she declared that the prorogation of the UK parliament in September 2019 was unlawful.
Which new books are you looking forward to reading in 2021 and beyond?
6 responses to “My Most Anticipated Books of 2021”
I’d completely missed the fact that there’s a new Graeme Macrae Burnet this year – thanks for flagging it up!
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Thanks so much for highlighting books I hadn’t heard of. I’m interested in the new one by Graeme Macrae Burnet having read His Bloody Project – a very clever book.
China Room looks good too, I do love a book with an Indian setting
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I’m going to have to flag this post and work through some of these books myself! Great recommendations.
Klara and the Sun is definitely the most anticipated book of everybody! I am so looking forward to it. The Disappearing Act also sounds interesting, but I also feel like an in-depth documentary is the right medium for this story. I am also looking forward to Burnet’s Case Study, and haven’t heard of China Room. Re China Room, I am somehow seeing more and more books that employ this “double narrative” technique in books where they tell stories from two different historical perspectives. I wonder if it’s in trend at the moment. I want to call it “Byatt’s Possession” trend 🙂
Yes, I think you’re right, it does seem to be in trend!
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