The most anticipated books of 2018

Dear Reader,

As 2017 drew to a close, a previously unknown writer, Kristen Roupenian, sparked an intense social media frenzy when her short story, ‘Cat Person’, was published in the New Yorker (NB: though the internet does love cats, the story is not about cats). By the end of December, the New York Times reported that Roupenian had secured a seven-figure, two-book deal (and in 2019 we’ll no doubt be talking about her debut collection, You Know You Want This… I don’t envy the weight of expectation there).

Then 2018 began with the drama of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s explosive exposé of the Trump administration, which rapidly became the book that everyone just had to have, as publisher and bookseller alike scrambled to meet unprecedented demand. These kinds of publishing stories give a sense of the excitement that new writing can elicit. But to be honest, dear reader, I don’t mind telling you that I feel a similar sensation every month when I start ordering a new month’s releases; the feeling is even more acute at the beginning of a new year as eyes become fixed on the year of books ahead. All those words yet to be read, and stories waiting to be revealed … this anticipation is part of the pleasure of working with books, and I’m happy to report that a typically mind-boggling array of new titles will arrive this year.

I begin with the excellent news that not one, but two former recipients of The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction will deliver us new novels in 2018, the fifth year of the prize. First comes a book from the inaugural winner, Ceridwen Dovey, In the Garden of the Fugitives (Penguin, March). I’m lucky to have read this book already and I can say it is a triumph – an unsettling and unusual novel that provides a totally compelling reading experience. Then, in August, 2015’s winner, Stephanie Bishop, will give us Man Out of Time – I really couldn’t be more excited about this news, and I’m already waiting by the proverbial mailbox for a proof from Hachette (hint, hint …).

March will bring us a number of anticipated books from emerging Australian writers, including Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s The Lebs (whose The Tribe was shortlisted for the inaugural Readings Prize), Eleanor Limprecht’s The Passengers, and debuts from Robert Lukins (The Everlasting Sunday), Tracey Sorensen (The Lucky Galah), Laura Elvery (Trick of the Light) and Irish-Australian writer, Dervla McTiernan: The Ruin promises to satisfy those who have found a taste for Australian-penned literary crime-fiction. Actually, March is itself a huge publishing month, with new books on their way from David Mamet, Marilynne Robinson, Sonya Voumard, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Martin Flanagan, Willy Vlautin, Eileen Myles, Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Robertson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Lidia Yuknavitch – not to mention the publishing event that is Tim Winton’s first work of fiction in five years, The Shepherd’s Hut, which is such a big deal that it gets its own special release date: 12 March.

It is set to be a great year for emerging Australian writers. Brow Books is building its reputation for bold literary publishing, and this year they’ll publish Apple and Knife by Intan Paramaditha (March), feminist short fiction in translation from its original Indonesian; and the debut of their ‘new literary prodigy’ Jamie Marina Lau, Pink Mountain on Locust Island (April). Laura Elizabeth Woollett impressed last year with her stories, The Love of a Bad Man. One such bad man, Jim Jones, and his Peoples Temple, form the subject of her novel, Beautiful Revolutionary (May, Scribe). Sarah Bailey’s The Dark Lake was a 2017 Readings staff favourite: Into the Night is due in June (A&U), as is Aoife Clifford’s second book, Second Sight (S&S). Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus run the ‘Books on the Rail’ project in Melbourne, their co-authored novel is The Book Ninja (S&S, May). Following in the footsteps of other local musicians who happen to write lovely novels (Peggy Frew, Holly Throsby, I’m thinking of you) Sally Seltmann will publish Lovesome in May (A&U). Melissa Ashley’s book, The Birdman’s Wife, won the 2017 ABA Bookseller’s Choice Award; her new book is The Orange and the Bee (Affirm, October). Jenny Ackland has a second novel too: Little Gods (A&U, April). The award given to an unpublished manuscript at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards is always a harbinger of new talent; Affirm will publish The Nowhere Child by 2017’s winner, Christian White, in July. Jay Carmichael was shortlisted for the 2016 round of that award: Ironbark comes out in April (Scribe). Text has Tasmanian author Robbie Arnott’s debut, Flames, in May. HarperCollins is excited about two debuts, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Holly Ringland; April), and Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton; July). Black Inc. has the first novel of screenwriter Mira Robertson, The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean (April).

We’ll also hear from authors we know well. Gail Jones’ new book is The Death of Noah Glass (Text, April). Acclaimed non-fiction writer Anna Krien publishes her first work of fiction in September, Act of Grace, which Black Inc. describes as ‘searing, complex and moving’. Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip will be with us in August (UQP). Giramondo collates the Collected Short Fiction of Gerald Murnane (April). Robert Drewe, Tom Keneally and Nikki Gemmell will all publish books this year. Simon & Schuster’s literary imprint, Scribner, launches locally in October with Kristina Olsson’s novel set in 1960s Sydney, Shell. Bonnier Publishing Australia’s imprint, Echo, is doing interesting things: SA Jones’s The Fortress (April) taps into the current interest in feminist speculative fiction. Gregory Day has a new novel in May, A Sand Archive (Picador). Blockbusting superstar Liane Moriarty has a book due out in October (Macmillan). Rosalie Ham of The Dressmaker fame will have a new book in October (Macmillan).

Chloe Hooper’s new book, The Arsonist, will be out later this year (Penguin). Journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani has written a series of powerful articles in the Guardian while imprisoned on Manus Island, and will publish The Long, Dark Night: Writing from Manus in June (Macmillan). Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, will publish his memoir, Power of Hope, with HarperCollins in July. Black Inc. has some great non-fiction coming our way, including: a collection edited by Anita Heiss, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (April); a future classic of Australian history writing, Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia (March); and Paddy Manning’s Inside the Greens, an account of the political party that many are turning to in the current climate – both metaphorical and actual (September). Can you believe it is 30 years since Expo 88? Jackie Ryan has written We’ll Show the World (UQP, May) about that bizarre event at which I spent four memorable days with my late grandma (I still have the diary I kept! There is still time to include my analyses of the pavilions in your book, Jackie!).

I’m (almost) alone at Readings in my dispassion for AFL, but I understand that lots of people will be excited about Bob Murphy’s Leather Soul (Nero, October). Maria Tumarkin is a personal heroine of mine, so I wait patiently for May when Brow Books will publish her new book of non-fiction, Axiomatic. Scribe likens the writing of journalist Kate Wild to that of Helen Garner and Chloe Hooper: her debut is Waiting for Elijah (June); Scribe also publishes an essential critique of poker machines in Australian culture, Drew Rooke’s One Last Spin (May). NewSouth has a book from Sam Twyford-Moore, The Rapids: Ways of Looking at Mania, in the second half of the year.

Bruce Pascoe’s fabulous book about Aboriginal agriculture, Dark Emu, was published in 2014 and continues to find new readers (including young ones this year when a junior edition of the book is released in July); Magabala will publish his work of adult fiction, Imperial Harvest in October. Clementine Ford’s 2016 book, Fight Like a Girl, should be on every Australian bookshelf. Her new book, Boys Will Be Boys, will be out in the second half of the year (A&U). It explores the negative effects of patriarchy on male children. Feminist legend Anne Summers is writing a memoir, also for Allen & Unwin: Becoming. Hannah Gadsby famously retired from the comedy circuit in 2017 after a sellout tour of her prize-winning show, Nanette. It’s not an unlikely leap to turn her erudition to the page; her memoir is Ten Steps to Nanette (A&U, June). The First Lady of Salads, a title I rightly bestow upon Hetty McKinnon, will have a new book in September.

I’ve left out so many worthy titles due to space restrictions, so for a longer list of forthcoming Australian titles due out in the first half of 2018, click here.

And we are promised new books from international authors such as Melissa Broder, Rachel Kushner, Lauren Groff, Sebastian Faulks, Curtis Sittenfeld, Andrew Miller, Raymond Feist, Lisa Genova, Laura Bates, Rachel Cusk, William Gibson, Sloane Crosley, Sheila Heti, Michael Ondaatje, Kate Atkinson, Charles Frazier, Sally Vickers, Kevin Powers, Haruki Murakami, Louis de Bernieres, William Boyd, Sergio de la Pava, Madeline Miller, Olivia Laing, Soraya Chemaly, Simon Winchester, Mario Vargas Llosa, Leslie Jamison, Louis de Bernieres, Jeff VanderMeer, Jesse Ball, Meg Wolitzer, Vikram Seth, Parker Posey, Julie Andrews, Tina Turner …

This is not even the half of it, dear reader: there are many omissions, including things so confidential that my contacts couldn’t tell me about them yet. Yes … that’s driving me crazy too!

But before all the rest of 2018 happens we have February’s books to discover, including Australian fiction from Jennifer Mills, whose Dyschronia adds to the literary refrains of warning around climate change; the author of 2015’s Useful (and the TV show Offspring) Debra Oswald’s new work, The Whole Bright Year; Kali Napier’s The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge; Dustfall by Michelle Johnston; The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

We have the new work of beloved Man Booker Prize-winning author Julian Barnes, The Only Story, our fiction book of the month, and new novels from Lloyd Jones (The Cage) and Craig Sherborne (Off the Record). Look out for US buzz titles including An American Marriage by Tayari Jones; Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block; The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin; a local edition of Carmen Maria Machado’s acclaimed collection, Her Body and Other Parties; and a book-club pick from publishing’s newest intermediary, Sarah Jessica Parker, No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts. The first translation of Homer’s Odyssey by a woman (Emily Wilson) is a significant event. The beginning of the Saint Etienne Quartet by French author Sabri Louatah is Savages: the Wedding; this series is being compared to Ferrante, Knausgaard and The Wire (I know, right – wow!). Jim Crace, Dave Eggers, and the late Sam Shepard also bring us books to start the year.

Zadie Smith’s Feel Free is our non-fiction book of the month; our reviewer compares these essays to a series of smart conversations with a friend. I really must read Smith’s take on The Buddha of Suburbia, one of the great novels of the 1990s that I plan to return to some day. Jeff Goodell’s book about our near future, The Water Will Come, terrifies with title alone. The logical next step after we’ve educated ourselves about brains, hearts and guts is The Story of Shit; and maybe after that, it’s Letting Go: How to Plan for a Good Death (though hopefully we’ve lived A Life Less Stressed before that). In spite of my admission about AFL above, even I can get on board with Roar, Samantha Lane’s story of the AFLW. The political cartoons of the late Ron Tandberg have been a source of satire and critique for over 40 years: A Year of Madness is a collection of 2017’s cartoons. Amy Goldstein’s Janesville was one of Obama’s favourite books of last year. Johann Hari’s Lost Connections will impact the discourse around depression.

And finally, dear reader, though Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari was published back in 2014 it still came in at number 12 on Readings’ 2017 bestseller list! Harari has a new book coming out in June (attention Readings warehouse: you guys need to start making space for the incoming boxes soon).

If you are yet to own a copy of this breakout title, you can take advantage of our non-fiction sale this month – buy three books for the price of two on a fantastic range of titles, which includes Sapiens (and his second book, Homo Deus) and a stack of other great books to see you through the last month of summer.

Alison Huber is the head book buyer at Readings.

You can pick up a free copy of the February edition of the Readings Monthly from any of our shops, or download a PDF here.

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Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

Anita Heiss

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