The year is still young and you have enough time to stock your reading list before the daily distractions take over.
Here is a collection of books for 2020 that will definitely be worth your while, speaking literarily.
Fiction Agency by William Gibson (Viking) A speculative thriller from our leading SF prophet, unfolding in an alternative present where Hillary Clinton is in the White House and Brexit never happened.
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Canongate) Mengiste’s long-awaited second novel is set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, and focuses on the female soldiers written out of African history.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Tinder)
Vivid, unputdownable story of a mother and her eight-year-old son fleeing from a drugs cartel across the US-Mexico border.
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Faber)
Thirty-two years on from the classic Nervous Conditions, Dangarembga continues her story of a woman making her way in Zimbabwe.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Viking)
The buzz is building around this thriller about a British school under siege.
Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth (Borough)
From the author of Animals, a black comedy about the trials of being a woman in contemporary society.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Chatto & Windus)
An exuberant debut inspired by the author’s work as a journalist: when street kids go missing in an Indian slum, the nine-year-old narrator investigates.
Low by Jeet Thayil (Faber)
A novel of addiction and bereavement from the author of the Booker-shortlisted Narcopolis.
The Catch by Mick Herron (John Murray)
A new Slough House novella from the king of ruefully comic spy thrillers.
One of Us Is Next by Karen M McManus (Penguin)
The sequel to world-conquering high school murder thriller One of Us Is Lying.
Unfree Speech by Joshua Wong (WH Allen)
The 23-year-old leader of the Hong Kong “umbrella” protests writes about his activism, prison and the values of democracy.
People Like Us by Hashi Mohamed (Profile)
A barrister with an unprivileged background considers social mobility and asks: what does it take to make it in modern Britain?
Motherwell by Deborah Orr (Weidenfeld)
A memoir from the Guardian journalist, who died in 2019, of growing up in the Scottish town and the ties of family.
Dear Life by Rachel Clarke (Little, Brown)
The author-doctor who specialises in palliative care writes a memoir about the death of her father, the human need for kindness and compassion, and how to approach everyday life.
Square Haunting by Francesca Wade (Faber)
A group biography of five pioneering women based in Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, between the wars; its subjects include Dorothy L Sayers and Virginia Woolf.
Loss by David Harsent (Faber)
Harsent brings his customary intensity of vision to dreamlike encounters with troubled days and restless nights.
Beethoven Variations by Ruth Padel (Chatto)
A verse response to the man and the music in the 250th anniversary year of the composer’s birth.
Mia Goth (left) as Harriet Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse in Emma.
Mia Goth (left) as Harriet Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse in Emma. Photograph: Focus
14 Film adaptation of Emma starring Anya Taylor-Joy with a script by Eleanor Catton.
28 Release of The Invisible Man, loosely based on HG Wells’s story and starring Elisabeth Moss.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Hamish Hamilton)
Oprah “hasn’t felt this way since I first read Beloved”. This much-anticipated historical debut from the leading US thinker is set on a Virginia plantation, and follows the underground war on slavery and one man’s struggle for freedom.
Actress by Anne Enright (Cape)
A woman looks back on the life of her mother, a theatrical legend, in a meditation on intimacy and stardom from the Irish Booker winner.
Weather by Jenny Offill (Granta)
Climate disaster and the fall of civilisation: in this wry take on contemporary anxiety the author of Dept. of Speculation faces up to fears about the end of the world.
Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah (Faber)
The extraordinary story of the men and women who carried David Livingstone’s corpse 1,500 miles across Africa so that he could be returned to England.
The Secret Guests by BW Black (Penguin)
John Banville continues to have pseudonymous fun in this historical mystery inspired by the rumour that princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were secretly moved to Ireland during the second world war.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-joo, translated by Jamie Chang (Scribner UK)
A TV scriptwriter’s debut written after quitting her job to look after her child, this multimillion-selling story of an everywoman constrained by society’s sexism is one of the most important books to have come out of South Korea.
Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride (Faber)
Desire, memory and regret play out in the mind of a woman in a series of hotel rooms.
Novelist Aravind Adiga.
Novelist Aravind Adiga. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian
Amnesty by Aravind Adiga (Picador)
An undocumented Sri Lankan immigrant in Sydney must decide whether to report information about a murder, in an investigation into justice and responsibility from the Booker-winning author of The White Tiger.
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes (Fitzcarraldo)
A modern Mexican classic about a village steeped in violence and superstition.
Independence Square by AD Miller (Harvill Secker)
A contemporary thriller about the workings of 21st-century power from the author of the Booker-shortlisted Snowdrops.
Here We Are by Graham Swift (Scribner)
The Booker winner’s latest novel is a richly comic drama set among entertainers on Brighton pier at the end of the 50s.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, trans Sarah Moses (Pushkin)
When animals become infected with a global virus, people turn to “special meat” in this provocative Argentinian prizewinner about a world in which cannibalism is normalised.
Gathering Evidence by Martin MacInnes (Atlantic)
2016’s Infinite Ground was a remarkable debut; the followup explores trauma and the mysterious patterns of data.
Tribes by David Lammy (Constable)
The barrister and Labour MP for Tottenham considers tribalism in today’s politics, his own family history and how our need to belong affects society.
Unspeakable by John Bercow (Weidenfeld)
The former Speaker’s autobiography, which promises verdicts on Tony Blair, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
Dark Towers by David Enrich (HarperCollins)
An exposé of Deutsche Bank, a company long tainted with scandal of various kinds, and how it lent billions to the Trump family.
Sex and Lies by Leïla Slimani (Faber)
The bestselling Franco-Moroccan author of Lullaby and Adèle talks to young women in Morocco about sex within an Arab culture.
Andy Warhol in 1984.
Andy Warhol in 1984. Photograph: RDA/Getty Images
Warhol by Blake Gopnik (Allen Lane)
A major biography based on hundreds of interviews, which considers the artist as a symbol of gay achievement and explodes the myth of his asexuality.
Going Dark by Julia Ebner (Bloomsbury)
A researcher at a counter-extremism thinktank goes undercover to report on the far right, anti-feminist women and other extreme groups.
Difficult Women by Helen Lewis (Cape)
The journalist provides “a history of feminism in 11 fights”, including the battles over divorce, sex, education, abortion and “the right to be difficult”.
Homie by Danez Smith (Chatto)
The Forward prize winner in search of, and in praise of, friendship in turbulent times.
RENDANG by Will Harris (Granta)
A playful and insightful exploration of contemporary notions of self and society.
Illustration for The Mirror and The Light in Review 4 January Literary calendar 2020
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate)
The most anticipated book of 2020 has to be the conclusion of Mantel’s magisterial trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. Will she make it an unprecedented Booker hat‑trick?
A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry (Faber)
The sequel to the stunning Days Without End focuses on Winona, the Native American girl adopted by Thomas and John Cole.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder)
It’s 1596 in Stratford-upon-Avon, and a young boy searches for help as his twin falls ill with fever, in a novel that imagines the story behind Shakespeare’s most famous play.
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (Cape)
A tale of sisterhood and anger from the author of All the Birds Singing, about three women across centuries whose stories are linked by abuse and resilience.
Box Hill by Adam Mars-Jones (Fitzcarraldo)
Mars-Jones explores themes of desire and domination in his first novel in nearly a decade, set in the gay biker community of the 1970s.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Oneworld)
A tale of two women and a secret family, from last year’s Women’s prize winner.
The City We Became by NK Jemisin (Orbit)
An ancient evil threatens New York in the first in a new fantasy series from the Hugo award winner.
The Voice in My Ear by Frances Leviston (Cape)
The award-winning poet turns to fiction for an investigation of contemporary womanhood told through the stories of 10 different women, all called Claire.
The Discomfort of the Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchison (Faber)
A sensation in the Netherlands, this is the viscerally immediate tale of a Dutch farming childhood.
Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas (Atlantic)
The Slap author goes back to the beginnings of Christianity for the story of Paul.
Come Again by Robert Webb (Canongate)
A bereaved woman lives her life over again in this fiction debut from the actor behind acclaimed memoir How Not to Be a Boy.
The Death of Comrade President by Alain Mabanckou (Serpent’s Tail)
The Black Moses author on growing up in 1970s Congo.
French economist Thomas Piketty.
French economist Thomas Piketty. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Harvard)
Following the influential Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the French economist looks again at inequality, exposing the ideas that have sustained it and “the shallow politics of right and left”.
The Precipice by Toby Ord (Bloomsbury)
A study of the greatest risks to humanity’s future, from the climate crisis and nuclear war to pandemics and artificial intelligence.
The Home Stretch by Sally Howard (Atlantic)
An investigation of why, after decades of feminism, women still do the majority of housework.
Three Years in Hell by Fintan O’Toole (Apollo)
The author of one of the best books on Brexit, the bestselling Heroic Failure, returns to the subject in a chronicle that will include scathing portraits of Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit (Granta)
A “landmark memoir” from the US writer on feminism and the environment, which explores her formation in 1980s San Francisco.
Our House Is on Fire by Malena and Beata Ernman and Svante and Greta Thunberg (Particular)
The Swedish environmental activist and her family tell their story, involving Greta’s awareness as an eight-year-old of the climate crisis, her diagnoses of autism and selective mutism, and her sister Beata’s response.
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong (Profile)
A creative exploration of race and Asian identity by an award-winning US poet.
House of Glass by Hadley Freeman (4th Estate)
The Guardian journalist uncovers her grandmother’s history, which takes her from the Picasso archives to Long Island to Auschwitz.
Magnetic Field by Simon Armitage (Faber)
Armitage’s first collection as poet laureate gathers new and old work inspired by his hometown of Marsden in Yorkshire.
Novelist and poet Garth Greenwell. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian
Cleanness by Garth Greenwell (Picador)
Greenwell returns to the world of his much-lauded debut What Belongs to You with the story of a gay American teacher preparing to leave Bulgaria.
The Abstainer by Ian McGuire (Scribner UK)
His Booker-shortlisted The North Water was a pitch-black tour de force; this new story of obsession and revenge centres on Fenian rebels in 19th-century Manchester.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel (Picador)
A woman disappears from a ship and a Ponzi scheme explodes in New York, in an investigation of money and morality from the author of Station Eleven.
Sharks in the Time of Saviours by Kawai Strong Washburn (Canongate)
Strongly tipped debut intertwining Hawaiian folk legend with the harsh realities of present-day US.
Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (Cape)
“Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her … ” A woman comes across a note in the woods in this suspenseful novel from the author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (Chatto)
A quirky love story about second chances from a US favourite.
The Infinite by Patience Agbabi (Canongate)
Time-travelling adventure from an award-winning poet.
Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson (Doubleday)
The new one from the Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather author. Frankie is nearly 14 and teenage life certainly comes with its ups and downs. Her mum is seriously ill with multiple sclerosis and Frankie can feel herself growing up quickly, no thanks to Sally and her gang of bullies at school. When Sally turns out to be not so mean after all, they strike up a friendship and are suddenly spending all of their time together. But Frankie starts to wonder whether these feelings for Sally are stronger than her other friendships.
Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver (Zephyr)
A return to Paver’s stone age world of demons and heroes, as the Wolf Brother series continues.
Double Lives by Helen McCarthy (Bloomsbury)
A history of working motherhood from the 19th century to today.
The Better Half by Sharon Moalem (Allen Lane)
A doctor and scientist publishes his research on “the genetic superiority of women”.
Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell (Granta)
The author of the award-winning To Be a Machine meets the people preparing for the end of the world.
Fake Law by the Secret Barrister (Picador)
The pseudonymous bestselling author is back to correct more misinformation about the law.
Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon.
Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon. Photograph: Fiona Adams/Redferns
One Two Three Four by Craig Brown (4th Estate)
Fifty years after Paul McCartney announced the break-up of the Beatles, this “part biography, part anthropology, part memoir” of the band promises as much entertainment as Brown’s previous book Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret.
The Ratline by Philippe Sands (Weidenfeld)
The prize-winning author of East West Street returns with a study of Otto Wächter, senior Nazi official and perpetrator of the Holocaust, and of the “ratlines” by which he escaped justice.
Happiness by Sophie Hannah (Profile)
The poet and crime novelist and “self-help addict” attempts to solve the mystery of how to be happy.
How to Wash a Heart by Bhanu Kapil (Pavilion)
An examination of relationships between immigrants and hosts that reveals humour and horror.
Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché (Bloodaxe)
The first new collection for 17 years from the poet and human rights activist offers a broad sweep across history and landscape.
Illustration for The Mirror and The Light in Review 4 January Literary calendar 2020
9 Centenary of the birth of Watership Down author Richard Adams.
19 Booker international prize awarded.
21-31 Hay festival.
29 Film of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, directed by Kenneth Branagh with script by Conor McPherson.
Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain (Chatto)
What links a young woman in 1860s Bath, desperate for adventure, and an eccentric British man in Borneo? A globetrotting story of destiny and desire from the author of The Gustav Sonata.
When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray (Hutchinson)
Bray’s third novel looks at the effect of climate crisis on a marriage, as Emma prepares for Christmas and Chris prepares for the collapse of civilisation.
Love by Roddy Doyle (Cape)
Youthful memories emerge over a Dublin pub crawl as two old friends consider their lives and loves.
Alexandria by Paul Kingsnorth (Faber)
The millennia-spanning trilogy that began in Wake with the Norman invasion concludes a thousand years from now.
Pew by Catherine Lacey (Granta)
In a god-fearing town in the American south, a mute, amnesiac stranger appears – and changes everything.
Curandera by Irenosen Okojie (Dialogue)
Mysterious happenings and unlikely quests in a novel about shamanism and desire.
We Are Not in the World by Conor O’Callaghan (Doubleday)
The Irish author’s follow-up to the marvellously eerie Nothing on Earth traces the journey of a father and daughter.
Sorry for Your Trouble by Richard Ford (Bloomsbury)
Short stories about men and women and the distances between them.
Tokyo Redux by David Peace (Faber)
Tokyo, 1949: Peace investigates one of Japanese history’s unsolved mysteries – the disappearance of the head of the railways in the midst of the US occupation.
Denise Mina. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian
The Less Dead by Denise Mina (Harvill Secker)
The Scottish crime author investigates power and privilege in a novel based on real life murder cases of sex workers in 1980s Glasgow.
The Loneliness of the Long‑Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine (Faber)
Autobiographical sketches of a life in comics, in Tomine’s first graphic novel since Killing and Dying.
Burn by Patrick Ness (Walker)
It’s 1950s America, but not as you know it: dragons are real in the new novel from the two-time Carnegie winner.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
A prequel to The Hunger Games, set 64 years before, explores “the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival”.
The Pink Line by Mark Gevisser (Profile)
The experience of individuals in nine countries is captured in a study of how LGBT rights became one of the world’s new human rights frontiers.
The Natural Health Service by Isabel Hardman (Atlantic)
The journalist and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians recounts how exercise and spending time in nature solved her mental health crisis.
Brexit Volume Three by Tim Shipman (W Collins)
As yet untitled, this final book in the Sunday Times journalist’s Brexit trilogy (All Out War, Fall Out) is likely to be full of well-sourced revelations.
The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machell (Canongate)
The remarkable story of how a British student with Asperger’s became obsessed with Robin Hood following the global financial crash, and began to rob banks.
Coffeeland by Augustine Sedgewick (Allen Lane)
A history that charts the 400-year transformation of coffee from a mysterious Ottoman custom to an everyday necessity for many.
Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake (Bodley Head)
An exploration of the wonders of fungi, which make up their own kingdom of life, distinct from animals, plants and bacteria – and which can survive unprotected in space, and thrive in radioactive waste.
Laura Bates. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian
Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates (Simon & Schuster)
An investigation into online misogyny from the Everyday Sexism author.
Mission: Economics by Mariana Mazzucato (Allen Lane)
An economist who highlights the entrepreneurial role of states argues for a “moonshot approach”, involving huge investment, to tackle the climate crisis, disease and inequality.
It Says Here by Sean O’Brien (Picador)
O’Brien deploys his exemplary lyricism in both short, sharp dispatches on today’s politics and a semi-novelistic journey through a haunted London.
3 Women’s fiction prize winner announced.
7 Fifty years since death of EM Forster (Maurice appeared the following year).
9 One hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Dickens’s death.
David Mitchell. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Sceptre)
Mitchell’s first novel in five years investigates drugs, sex, art and madness as the psychedelic 60s draw to a close.
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa)
“Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly … ” So begins a new novel about adolescent shame and the two faces of Naples from the author of My Brilliant Friend.
The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig (Little, Brown)
Two women hatch a plan to murder each other’s husbands in a pacy satire that also takes in inequality between generations and communities.
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh (Hamish Hamilton)
The follow-up to Mackintosh’s eerie debut The Water Cure is set in a world where motherhood is decided by lottery.
Killing Eve: Die for Me by Luke Jennings (John Murray)
The final instalment of the trilogy that inspired Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s award-winning TV series.
Pilgrims by Matthew Kneale (Atlantic)
The author of the mighty English Passengers follows the progress of a diverse group of 13th-century pilgrims from England to Rome.
A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto)
Concepts of love and home are explored through fragments of conversation in a book investigating language and cultural difference.
Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell (Faber)
Short stories about contemporary womanhood from one of Northern Ireland’s most interesting writers, with real-life cameos from the likes of Sinéad O’Connor and Monica Lewinsky.
Diary of a Suburban Lady by Lucy Mangan (Souvenir)
The Guardian critic’s first outing in fiction is a spiky domestic comedy inspired by EM Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady.
Everyday Magic by Jess Kidd (Canongate)
In the first children’s book from the author of Things in Jars, a young orphan discovers that his aunties are witches.
Jordan Peterson. Photograph: Phil Fisk/The Observer
Beyond Mere Order by Jordan Peterson (Allen Lane)
Twelve more “rules for life” from the bestselling and controversial Canadian psychologist.
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (Allen Lane)
The co-founder of Microsoft discusses the tools needed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla (Bluebird)
A memoir from the Bristol-based editor of The Good Immigrant, which is also an exploration of “how to raise a brown baby in an increasingly horrible world”.
Humankind by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury)
The bestselling author of Utopia for Realists argues that humans aren’t bad and that kindness and altruism can be a new way to think.
No Fixed Abode by Maeve McClenaghan (Picador)
Stories of life and death among the UK’s growing homeless population, and portraits of some of the people addressing the problem.
Reasons for Optimism by Lily Cole (Penguin Life)
The model and entrepreneur offers a guide to bringing about change.
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Faber)
A much-anticipated collection in which the US’s relationship with its indigenous people is rendered through protest and celebration.
Summer by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
Folding in contemporary politics and the timeless pleasures of art and story, Smith’s landmark Seasonal Quartet has been written against the unfolding car crash of Brexit; now it, at least, concludes.
Untitled by Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday)
The tentative release date for the American author’s much-anticipated Hillary Clinton novel.
Sisters by Daisy Johnson (Cape)
A horror-tinged novel about sibling love from the Booker-shortlisted author of Everything Under.
The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams (Heinemann)
A disaffected Victorian lexicographer inserts false entries into a dictionary while in the present day an underpaid intern hunts them out, in the debut novel from the author of Attrib. and Other Stories.
Fall by John Preston (Viking)
The author of A Very English Scandal turns his attention to the last days of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Chelsea Manning memoir (Bodley Head)
“One of the world’s most famous whistleblowers and trans women” tells her extraordinary story.
Poor by Caleb Femi (Penguin)
The poet and first young people’s laureate for London writes a lyrical portrait of identity and black boyhood in Britain.
The Number Bias by Sanne Blauw (Sceptre)
A bestselling book in the Netherlands by an econometrician who considers how numbers lead and mislead us.
How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division by Elif Shafak (Wellcome)
An argument for how writing can further democracy and tolerance, from the novelist and human rights activist.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Viking)
Tackling addiction, depression and the consolations of faith, this follow-up to the bestselling Homegoing focuses on a Ghanaian family in contemporary US.
Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan (Doubleday)
Ryan’s From a Low and Quiet Sea was Costa-shortlisted last year; here a woman goes missing in 1970s Tipperary. Her parents accept that she has vanished for good – and then she returns.
The Mission House by Carys Davies (Granta)
The folllow-up to her miniature masterpiece West is set in a hill station in contemporary India.
Meanwhile in Dopamine City by DBC Pierre (Faber)
A satire on single fatherhood in difficult times, from the author of Vernon God Little.
Untitled by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
The final title in the Murder Most Unladylike series sees much-loved schoolgirl detectives Daisy and Hazel investigate a murder in Egypt.
Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald (Cape)
The author of the acclaimed memoir H Is for Hawk returns with a series of essays about nature.
The Gun, the Ship and the Pen by Linda Colley (Profile)
The historian best known for Britons retells modern history through the spread of written constitutions.
At Any Cost by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang (Little, Brown)
Two New York Times investigative journalists expose the “inner workings” of Facebook at a time when the tech giant faces increasing controversy.
Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard (Allen Lane)
A forest ecologist who has conducted decades of research in Canadian forests on how trees communicate with each other.
Sarah Solemani’s BBC adaptation of Jo Bloom’s East End anti-fascism thriller Ridley Road, set in the swinging 60s.
25 Fifty years since publication of Len Deighton’s Bomber, the first novel written on a word processor.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
It’s 16 years since Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – now Clarke is back with a new otherworldly fantasy.
Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan (Faber)
Two best friends desperate to escape poverty-stricken smalltown Scottish life in the 80s – and 30 years on, a reckoning with the restless ambition of youth.
D (A Tale of Two Worlds) by Michel Faber (Doubleday)
The letter D disappears in this crossover story of friendship and free-thinking set between our world and the wintry land of Liminus, from the author of The Crimson Petal and the White.
Darkness As a Bride by John Irving (Simon & Schuster)
The 15th novel from the Cider House Rules author is a ghost story about a mother and son.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Viking)
The Pointless presenter turns his hand to crime fiction, with the story of bored pensioners in a retirement village who find themselves investigating the killing of a property developer.
Red Pill by Hari Kunzru (Scribner)
In the follow-up to White Tears, a writer finds his idyllic Berlin retreat shattered by ghosts from the past.
The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany (Faber)
The author of The Yacoubian Building on the trauma of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
V for Victory by Lissa Evans (Doubleday)
The follow-up to the bestselling Old Baggage.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate)
A woman discovers a library full of alternative lives in a novel of regret and redemption from the author of How to Stop Time.
Just Like You by Nick Hornby (Viking)
Opposites attract in a bittersweet new love story from the king of relationship comedy.
Hard Graft by Jeremy Paxman (W Collins)
The broadcaster and author of such bestselling books as The English explores how coal made Britain.
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, whose mother Kadiatu is publishing a memoir about their musical family.
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, whose mother Kadiatu is publishing a memoir about their musical family. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian
House of Music by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason (Oneworld)
A mother’s memoir of how seven children all become classical musicians, to form “Britain’s most musical family”.
Another Now by Yanis Varoufakis (Bodley Head)
The radical Greek economist and politician asks: what would a fair society look like?
More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran (Ebury)
The much-loved columnist and author of How to Be a Woman looks at life beyond 30.
How Not to Be Wrong by James O’Brien (Ebury)
The LBC presenter and author of How to Be Right focuses on “the art of changing your mind”.
Boris Johnson by Tom Bower (Ebury)
The prolific biographer received flak for the poor quality of his life of Jeremy Corbyn, but will be seeking out revelations about the prime minister (the title is not yet fixed).
The Spy Next Door by Ben Macintyre (Viking)
The latest popular history from the bestselling author concerns “the greatest female spy in history”.
The Lives of Lucian Freud Volume Two by William Feaver (Bloomsbury)
The artist’s years of fame, as recorded by the writer who spoke to him most days.
English Pastoral by James Rebanks (Allen Lane)
The Lake District farmer and author of The Shepherd’s Life returns with a meditation on the stewardship of a landscape under threat.
Poet Claudia Rankine and dog Sammy at home.
Poet Claudia Rankine and dog Sammy at home. Photograph: Ricardo DeAratanha/LA Times via Getty Images
Just Us by Claudia Rankine (Penguin)
Forward prize-winning Rankine returns with a collection that interrogates white privilege, supremacy and aggression through verse, prose and images.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (Raven)
He won the Costa first novel award for his dizzyingly high-concept crime thriller The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle; the latest book features murder on the high seas and a demon who may or may not exist.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Granta)
From the author of 2018’s comic gem about a Japanese misfit, Convenience Store Woman, a new novel featuring a young woman who is convinced she is an alien.
Trio by William Boyd (Viking)
Three characters come together in the febrile atmosphere of Paris in 1968.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton (Fig Tree)
The debut novel from the author of Everything I Know About Love.
Snow by John Banville (Faber)
Banville’s first crime novel under his own name is a festive mystery set in the 1950s, beginning with the discovery of the body of a priest.
Insignificance by James Clammer (Galley Beggar)
One day in the life of a plumber from the publisher behind Ducks, Newburyport. “The middle classes have always been given a lot of space to write literary books,” says the author. “I think the working classes should be given a bit of space to navel gaze, too.”
Missionaries by Phil Klay (Canongate)
Following on from his story collection Redeployment, the debut novel from the ex-US Marine focuses on a female war correspondent in the Middle East and the drug wars of Colombia.
Playwright Tom Stoppard at home in 1967.
Tom Stoppard by Hermione Lee (Faber)
The biographer of Penelope Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton turns her attention to one of Britain’s most eminent playwrights.
Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Oliver Sibony and Cass R Sunstein (William Collins)
Three authors, known individually for Thinking Fast and Slow, Nudge and other books, combine in a study of how to improve decision-making by reducing “background noise”.
The Mark of Cain by Margaret MacMillan (Profile)
The Canadian historian writes up her Reith lectures on why humans go to war and how conflict has shaped the world.
My Life in Red and White by Arsène Wenger (Weidenfeld)
The Arsenal manager from 1996 to 2018 looks back.
Victoria Wood by Jasper Rees (Trapeze)
An authorised biography of the comedian, actor and writer who died in 2016.
I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke (Picador)
The long-awaited memoir of the punk performance poet, who toured with Linton Kwesi Johnson, and appeared on the same bill as the Sex Pistols, Joy Division and many other bands.
Wagnerism by Alex Ross (4th Estate)
The New Yorker music critic and acclaimed author of The Rest Is Noise explores how Wagner “shaped the modern world”.
The Godless Gospel by Julian Baggini (Granta)
The philosopher asks what did Jesus really believe, in a book looking at his teachings.
Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair (Picador)
An interrogation of The Tempest against a backdrop of Caribbean postcolonial history and identity.
Akwaeke Emezi. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose/The Observer
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber)
A surprising take on a Nigerian childhood, from the author of the Women’s prize-longlisted Freshwater.
Xstabeth by David Keenan (White Rabbit)
Keenan builds on the female voices of his award-winning debut This Is Memorial Device for a novel about music and love set between Scotland and Russia.
At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, trans Anna Moschovakis (Pushkin)
An award-winner in France, this novel by a French-Senegalese academic explores an overlooked history – the African troops who fought for France in the first world war.
Where Snow Angels Go by Maggie O’Farrell (Walker)
In O’Farrell’s first children’s book, a young child recovers from illness.
Walking With Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne (Picador)
The Irish actor writes a memoir of his childhood and being raised by devoutly Roman Catholic parents.
Index, A History of The by Dennis Duncan (Allen Lane)
A history of the book index from the middle ages to the Kindle era.
How I Learned to Understand the World by Hans Rosling (Sceptre)
A posthumous publication from the bestselling Factfulness author.
The Late Sun by Christopher Reid (Faber)
Reflections and lessons on life delivered with Reid’s trademark curiosity, wit and skill.
Realtime by Kevin Fong (Bodley Head)
A consultant anaesthetist tells “stories of flight, death and emergency medicine”.
Rewired by Carl Marci (Harvard) A neuroscientist on how living in an age of digital distraction has wreaked havoc on our brains.