The most anticipated books of 2017
Another year, another bounty of books! To cover every book the Readings team is excited about would be impossible, but here is a sample of the books we are looking forward to in 2017.
Several much-loved authors return after long breaks with new novels: Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1 is his first novel in seven years (Faber & Faber, February). Arundhati Roy also returns with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (PRH, July), her first novel since the Booker Prize-winning The God of Small Things 20 years ago. Those who loved Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is A Wound will be pleased to see that Text are also publishing his novel about inequality, police violence, and impotence, Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, in July. In May we can expect a new collection of short stories from Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women (Harvill Secker) and a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unpublished stories, I’d Die For You (S&S). Also in May, a new novel in stories from Elizabeth Strout, Anything Is Possible (Viking), is certain to be snapped up as fast as the deliveries arrive.
Ali Smith’s superb seasonal quartet continues with the second novel, Winter, due out in November (PRH). Karl Ove Knausgaard must also have been inspired by the seasons – we can expect two books from him in the second half of the year: Autumn (September, PRH) and Winter (November, PRH). As with Smith’s set, Knausgaard’s remaining two seasons will also follow in due course. This month sees the release of John Boyne’s latest novel, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (PRH), and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury, this month).
In historical fiction, Hilary Mantel fans can look forward to the final instalment in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light (Fourth Estate), in August. Speaking of names, Colm Toibin’s latest novel, House of Names (Picador, March), offers a twist on Greek mythology in the house of Atreus, writing from various female perspectives. Meanwhile, in Bright Air Black (Text, March), David Vann will tackle Medea, and Kamila Shamsie will offer a new take on the Antigone legend in Home Fire (Bloomsbury, September).
Other classics receiving a modern treatment are Shakespeare’s Othello in Tracy Chevalier’s New Boy, the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series (PRH, May), and Edward St Aubyn will offer a contemporary version of King Lear in his novel of the same title in October (PRH).
As others have already noted with delight, we’ll see new novels from seven past Miles Franklin winners this year. We are particularly excited about our own AS Patrić’s Atlantic Black, which will be published by Transit Lounge in October. Also much anticipated are Taboo by Kim Scott (Picador, August), Mungo Man by Tom Keneally, and the sixth and final book in Steven Carroll’s Glenroy series, A New England Affair (Fourth Estate, September). Then there are three from Allen & Unwin: Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser, The Passage of Love by Alex Miller and The Choke by Sofie Laguna.
Of course we here at Readings are very excited about the new novel due out in September with Hachette from Stephanie Bishop, the 2015 winner of the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Another prize-winner with a new book out this year is Michael Sala, whose novel The Last Thread, first published by Affirm Press, won the 2013 UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and was also the regional winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. His new novel, The Restorer, will be published in April by Text.
We are also looking forward to Ache (HarperCollins, late May), the new novel by Eliza Henry-Jones whose beautiful, gripping debut novel, In the Quiet, was shortlisted for The Readings Prize. Jane Rawson has a much-anticipated novel out in March, From the Wreck (Transit Lounge), as does Melanie Joosten, whose Gravity Well will be published in June (Scribe). Congo Dawn by Katherine Scholes (Penguin, April) takes us to Africa and Heather Taylor Johnson’s Jean Harley Was Here (UQP, March) takes us beyond the grave.
Krissy Kneen’s latest reality-bending novel, An Uncertain Grace (Text, March), is said to be one for fans of George Saunders and Kelly Link. The inimitable Wayne Macauley has a new novel, Some Tests (Text, June), which explores just how fast the transition from person to patient can be. Also exploring the frailties of humanity is The Last Garden by Eva Hornung (Text, May), and there are several novels bringing stories from the past to life, including Goldie Goldbloom’s Gwen, (Fremantle Press, this month), Billy Sing by Ouyang Yu (Transit Lounge, April), The Last Days of Jeanne D’Arc by Ali Alizadeh (Giramondo, August) and Chris Womersley’s City of Crows (Picador, September). Fairytales continue to provide inspiration, too, as in Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth (PRH, July).
Jock Serong’s On the Java Ridge (Text, second half of the year) is firmly in the present and deals with the life-threatening dilemmas faced by a group of surfers when they encounter an imperilled asylum seeker vessel. And there’s plenty to look forward to in Australian short stories, including this month’s Old Growth by John Kinsella (Transit Lounge), Do You Love Me Or What? by Sue Woolfe (S&S, March), These Waters by Beverley Farmer (Giramondo, July) and more.
With The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction contenders to consider, we always have a keen eye on debut and second works of fiction. It’s another bumper crop this year. Debuts to look out for include See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Hachette, April). Film rights have already been sold for this tale of Lizzie Borden, who was accused of murdering her father and stepmother in 1892, as well as publishing rights in six territories. There’s also the Richell Prize-winner Sally Abbott’s Closing Down (Hachette, May), which offers a dark vision of Australia’s future; and, also from Hachette, Down the Hume (March), Peter Polites’ gritty tale of a young man living on the edge. There’s been buzz about The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades (Bantam, March) and in April, Brio will bring us Rubik by Elizabeth Tan, Ventura In Two Minds by Gordon Parker, and HarperCollins Storyland by Catherine McKinnon. Even later in the year, we’ll see The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorenson (Picador, September).
Also in debuts, this month we have Barking Dogs by Rebekah Clarkson (Affirm Press) and The Trapeze Act by Libby Angel (Text). In July, Dennis Glover’s The Last Man in Europe (Black Inc.) transports the reader to Orwell’s life during the time he was writing Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Among debut short-story collections, this month there is The Circle and the Equator by Kyra Giorgi (UWAP, this month) and, later in the year, Australia Day by Melanie Cheng (Text, July). We’ll also see a second novel by Vivienne Kelly, The Starlings (Text, April), a hilariously dark story of a family with a football-obsessed dad, a mum with secrets and an Arthurian-legend- and Shakespeare-obsessed son.
There will be plenty of poetry on offer this year, a small glimpse includes: Transparencies by Stephen Edgar (Black Pepper, February); The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry (March); Sure by Jennifer Harrison (Black Pepper, March); The Metronome by Jennifer Maiden (Giramondo, March); Shaping the Fractured Self edited by Heather Taylor Johnson (Five Islands, May); and The Collected Poems of Fay Zwicky edited by Lucy Dougan and Tim Dolin (UWAP, May).
The year is off to a strong start in Australian crime fiction with Candice’s Fox’s Crimson Lake (Bantam), Adrian McKinty’s Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (Profile), Greg Pyres’ The Unfortunate Victim and Stephen Greenall’s Winter Traffic (Text) all out this month.
Father-daughter writing team Tom and Meg Keneally return in March with the second book in their Montsarrat series, The Unmourned (Vintage). Sulari Gentill’s eighth book in her charming Rowland Sinclair series will be out in September (Pantera), Fiona Capp also returns with To Know My Crime (Fourth Estate, March) and Sara Foster’s latest, The Hidden Hours, will be out in April (S&S). Award winner Emma Viskic will also have a new book out later this year with Bonnier, and Anna George will explore moral quandaries in The Lone Child (PRH, August).
Debut Australian crime writers include Mark Brandi whose book, Wimmera, has already won the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and it hasn’t even been published yet – but don’t worry, Hachette will have that one for us in the second half of the year. Another much-anticipated debut is Sarah Bailey’s The Dark Lake, which Allen & Unwin will publish in June.
A hybrid must be mentioned before we jump into international crime fiction: the sequel to Never Never and second collaboration between Candice Fox and James Patterson sees the return of Detective Harriet Blue in Last Chance (PRH, August). A book certain to excite crime readers this year is Into the Water (PRH, May) by Paula Hawkins, the author of The Girl on the Train. Harry Hole is back in The Thirst by Jo Nesbo (PRH, May), there will be a new book from Harlan Coben in September (PRH), a new Robert Langdon novel from Dan Brown, Origin, (PRH, September), and The 7th Function of Language, a global conspiracy-thriller by Laurent Binet (PRH, May).
The scope of non-fiction titles on offer this year is wonderful; again, it is not possible to list everything we have ahead of us, but rest assured we’ll be keeping you informed throughout the year.
This month Kate Grenville’s The Case Against Fragrance (Text) is a fascinating and revealing study of just how little we know and understand about fragrance and its effects. For those still feeling oppressed by the results of the US election, among other political nightmares, Rebecca Huntley’s Still Lucky (PRH, this month) may offer a welcome change of perspective. And books calling for action include A Rightful Place, edited by Shireen Morris (Black Inc., February) and Time to Die by Rodney Syme (MUP, March).
Please Explain: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Pauline Hanson by Anna Broinowski (PRH, June) will no doubt be revealing, although alarming. In a year like this of course we need a Quarterly Essay on politics from David Marr – luckily, we’ll get one on the current “politics of resentment” in late March. In April Bates Gill and Linda Jakobson will look at China Matters: Getting it Right for Australia and Allan Gyngell at our Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World Since 1942 (both LaTrobe University Press), then Sarah Sentilles will explore ways of opposing war through art and critical theory in Draw Your Weapons (Text, July) and Paddy Manning will go Inside the Greens in September (Black Inc.).
Curing Affluenza by Richard Denniss (Black Inc., August) will clarify the difference between materialism and consumerism and put forward a case for cherishing and sharing things, not buying them. Robert Dessaix will argue for the merits and The Pleasures of Leisure in May (PRH), and Briohny Doyle will explore millennial adulthood in Adult Fantasy (Scribe, June).
We can all receive an introduction to Artificial Intelligence and where it’s likely to take us in Thinking Machines by Professor Toby Walsh (LaTrobe University Press, August). Those who loved The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben will recognise David George Haskill’s name and not want to miss The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors (Black Inc., April).
Jessa Crispin’s challenge Why I am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto (Black Inc., this month) is certain to prompt discussions, as will Breaking the Mould by Angela Pippos (Affirm Press, this month); Sorry, Just Lucky by Jamila Rizvi (PRH, July); and Guilt Trip by Kasey Edwards (Nero, May). The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama (PRH, December) and Colombiano by Rusty Young (PRH, August), author of Marching Powder, will also open eyes.
In health we’ll find out how much we didn’t know (and perhaps didn’t want to know) in Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams (Text, June) and Sh*t, This is Serious! Why Eating for Gut Health is Not Enough by Dr Paul Froomes (Black Inc., September); what we mustn’t shy away from in Mental by Dr Steve Ellen and Catherine Deveny (Black Inc., September) and Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish (Black Inc., June). As well as several new books on the ever elusive human brain, there will also be Gastrophysics by Charles Spence (PRH, March) and don’t miss this month’s essential reading, Heart by Johannes Hinrich von Borstel (Scribe).
On the theme of resilience, the author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, whose husband died unexpectedly at the age of 48, has written a book with Adam Grant called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy (PRH, May); and Edith Egar, an America-based psychologist and Auschwitz survivor, offers hope and professional insight into the human capacity to heal in The Choice (PRH, April).
Biography & Memoir
It’s hard to believe that Bernadette Brennan’s A Writing Life (Text) is the first full-length study of Helen Garner’s incredible forty years of writing, but we are eagerly anticipating its release in April. Another significant literary life’s work will be examined in Simon Leys: Navigator Between Worlds by Philippe Paquet (LaTrobe University Press, July). We’ll also be gaining insight into the writing and lives of several other Australian writers this year. In June Hachette will publish Inga Simpson’s nature-writing memoir, Understory, and there will also be a new book from Jane Caro (PanMac). The much-missed Georgia Blain left readers her memoir, which Scribe will publish in the second half of the year. In Only (A&U, March) Caroline Baum explores her experience of being an only child, and in After (HarperCollins, April) Nikki Gemmell writes about the aftermath of her elderly mother’s suicide. Other books that look at tough times are Things That Helped by Jessica Friedmann (Scribe, April), a candid account of postnatal depression from a striking new voice, and Life Sentence: A Police Officer’s Battle with PTSD by Simon Gillard with Libby Harkness (PRH, May).
In April we’ll learn more about Bertha and Henry Lawson in A Wife’s Heart by Kerrie Davies (UQP) and Joan Lindsay in Beyond the Rock by Janelle McCulloch (Bonnier), while in May Brandl & Schlesinger will publish Come in Dymphna by Marilla North. Beyond Veiled Clichés (PRH, June) by Amal Awad will offer an insider’s insight into the lives of women who negotiate both the Arab and western worlds. Judith Brett’s biography of Alfred Deakin will delve into the Australian political world of the past in August (Text) and there will be a biography of AC/DC’s Angus Young by Jeff Apter, High Voltage (Nero, October). The second half of the year will also see a memoir from David Attenborough acclaimed coral-reef expert Charlie Vernon, A Life Underwater (PRH, July). Other notable figures releasing autobiographies and memoirs this year include Richard Ford, Ai Weiwei, Ben Elton, Richard Branson and Nelson Mandela.
Kids & YA
There are many familiar and fantastic new contributions to books for kids and young adults this year. In picture books we have Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell and Alison Colpoys (Scribble, March). Our kids’ specialists thought The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade, the first book by Bell and Colpoys, was a delight, so we are all keen to get hold of their latest work. Similarly, the dream-team of picture books, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, will give us Triangle (Walker) in mid-March. As you may remember, the first Doodle Cat book was a favourite at Readings, so we can’t wait to see what he’s up to in Doodle Cat is Bored (Scribble, May). The countdown until delivery is also on for the following picture books: Lucy’s Book by Natalie Jane Prior (Lothian, March); Slow Down World by Tai Snaith (T&H, April); Florette by Anna Walker (Viking, March); My Brother is a Beast by Damon Young and Peter Carnavas (UQP, March); The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury (Penguin, mid-April); and The Red Book by Beck and Matt Stanton (ABC Books, April).
In junior and middle fiction we’ll have Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky by Robert Newton (Penguin, March); The Turnkey by Allison Rushby (Walker, March); The Beast of Hushing Wood by Gabrielle Wang (Penguin, April); The Blue Cat by Ursula Duborsarsky (A&U, April); The Boy and the Spy by Felice Arena (Puffin, April); Mammoth Mistake and The Robbery Riddle by Alex Miles and Maude Guesne (Affirm Press, April); The Fall by Tristan Bancks (Random House Children’s, June); See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Puffin, March); Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase by Peter Helliar (Hardie Grant Egmont, March); and the final book in the Dragonkeeper series by Carole Wilkinson (Black Dog).
There’s also plenty to interest readers of young adult fiction, including: A Shadow’s Breath by Nicole Hayes (Random House Children’s, this month); Remind Me How This Ends by Gabrielle Tozer (HarperCollins, April); Night Swimming by Steph Bowe (Text, April); The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil (Hardie Grant Egmont, April); Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology edited by Danielle Binks (HarperCollins, May); and Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin (Black Dog, May); and two to look out for from Text are Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield (June) and Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian, which won the 2016 Text Prize and will be published in September. And we loved The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by our very own Gabrielle Williams, so we are excited about the forthcoming release of her new book, My Life As A Hashtag (A&U, June).
Elke Power is the editor of Readings Monthly.