2013 brought plenty of literary treasure for readers. While 2014 doesn't have quite as many long-awaited works in store, there are still abundant treats for book lovers, from promising debuts to stellar second acts to new works from established favorites.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
Bantam • January 21
Horan's 2007 debut, Loving Frank, starred Frank Lloyd Wright's longtime mistress Mamah Borthwick Cheney. In her second novel, Horan has chosen another overlooked heroine from history: Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, the muse and eventual wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, whose adventure-filled life spanned more than one continent. Horan is a master at blending fact and fiction, and readers will find Osbourne as memorable a heroine as Cheney.
Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore
Knopf • February 25
Fifteen years after the publication of her last book, one of America's most inventive and admired short-story writers returns. Bark is trademark Moore: a collection of tales full of carefully drawn characters who face the difficulties of everyday life with senses of humor intact.
Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li
Random House • February 25
The Chinese-American Li, who moved to the U.S. from Beijing more than 15 years ago, is a MacArthur Fellow and one of the New Yorker's 20 under 40. While her new novel deals with many of her usual themes—assimilation to American life, the lives of everyday people in China, and the damage wrought in the aftermath of China's civil war and turn to Communism—it also contains a suspense element, adding a new twist for her many fans.
Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn
Liveright • March 3
The novelist whose books include Thumbsucker and Up in the Air turns out to have a surprisingly soft heart: He set out in his own car to deliver a shelter dog from Montana to a new owner in New York City. That owner, with whom Kirn would form an unlikely friendship, was Clark Rockefeller, a serial imposter later convicted of murder.
The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait by Blake Bailey
Norton • March 3
The award-winning biographer of such literary luminaries as John Cheever and Richard Yates tells his own story in one of the most surprising and riveting memoirs of the season. Bailey, who's currently at work on an authorized biography of Philip Roth, portrays his eccentric and troubled family with unflinching honesty and considerable humor. His wildly self-destructive brother, Scott—the focus of the book—is a character readers won't soon forget.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Riverhead • March 6
In her fifth novel—and yes, she's only 30—Oyeyemi puts a midcentury twist on the Snow White tale. When Boy meets a charming widower and his beautiful daughter, Snow, she is determined not to become the evil stepmother, especially after the abuse she received from her own father. But then Boy discovers the real reason Snow's fair beauty is revered in her husband's family. This ambitious novel fearlessly tackles complicated issues like race and female competitiveness, even as it tells a fascinating story.
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
Spiegel & Grau • March 11
Rural life is anything but idyllic in this suspenseful debut novel set in the Missouri Ozarks. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Dane barely remembers her mother, Lila, who disappeared when Lucy was a baby. When one of Lucy's friends is murdered, her search for the killer also uncovers some dark family secrets. McHugh's portrayal of a small-town community's suspicion of outsiders is spot-on, as is the atmosphere she creates; fans of morally complicated thrillers like A Simple Plan and In the Woods should take note.
Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman
Morrow • March 18
The mystery surrounding Michael Rockefeller, youngest son of then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, still lingers more than 50 years after he disappeared without a trace in New Guinea. Hoffman attempts to put the mystery to rest with on-the-scene research and new documents that shed light on what really happened. The combination of a famous family, a young man's quest and rumors of cannibalism should attract plenty of readers to this third-world true-crime story.
New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell
Random House • April 1
Let's Take the Long Way Home (2010) touched the hearts of readers (including many at BookPage) with its moving account of a special friendship that was broken only by death. Those who want to learn how Caldwell bounced back after losing her best friend can look forward to this follow-up, which focuses on her own health struggles (resulting from a childhood bout with polio) and the puppy who helped her find a new path.
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown • April 1
Emma Donoghue became a household name for readers after the her 2010 novel, Room, sold more than 1.5 million copies. But Room was actually an anomaly for Donoghue, who was known as a historical fiction writer—or, as she puts it, a "fact-based historical writer." She returns to the past here with a story set in 1876 San Francisco that's based on a real-life crime.
Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes
Crown • April 1
Mayes has written three bestsellers about her life in Italy (Under the Tuscan Sun, etc.) but this spring for the first time, she recounts her coming-of-age in the American South. Will readers be as interested in Fitzgerald, Georgia, as they were in the dazzling Tuscan countryside? Mayes' spirited youth and evocative writing should draw them in.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Algonquin • April 1
Gabrielle Zevin, the author of six previous books for adults and young adults, has written a fable-like story for anyone who loves books—and isn't that every reader? Prickly bookseller A.J. Fikry thinks that his life is over after a tragic loss, until a certain sales rep shows up at his store.
The Price of Silence by William D. Cohan
Scribner • April 8
This new account of the Duke lacrosse scandal promises the complete, true story for the first time of the episode that provoked a clash between some of the biggest cultural forces in America. The fact that Cohan himself is a Duke alum who worked on Wall Street should make for an interesting perspective on this complex case.
Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich
Twelve • April 8
A writer who has produced incisive and thought-provoking works on social issues (Nickel and Dimed, Bright-Sided, Bait and Switch) turns her attention to her personal journey in a book the publisher describes as "part memoir, part philosophical and spiritual inquiry." Readers who put books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens on bestseller lists will eagerly anticipate Ehrenreich's look back at her youthful quest to untangle the meaning of life.
Love Life by Rob Lowe
Simon & Schuster • April 8
Lowe's first memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends (2011), was a bestseller, and expectations are high for more of the same with his second effort. "I'm hoping readers will think of the first book as a restaurant where they ate a good meal, and that they'll want to come back and try a new dish," Lowe said when he signed the deal to write a sequel. Publisher S&S promises stories about the girlfriend Lowe lost to a big-time movie star and his surprise visit to a hot tub at the Playboy Mansion, among many others. We're ready to place our order!
Postcards from Cookie by Caroline Clarke
HarperCollins • April 15
After health issues sent Clarke to an adoption agency to investigate her background, she learned the surprising truth: Her birth mother is Carole "Cookie" Cole, daughter of legendary singer Nat "King" Cole. The story of how mother and daughter forged a bond decades after they were separated should garner a lot of attention as Mother's Day approaches.
Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe
Little, Brown • April 22
We like to think of ourselves as mostly immune to the persuasive power of blurbs, but this one from Maria Semple (author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette) got our attention: "Breezy, sophisticated, hilarious, rude, and aching with sweetness: Love, Nina might be the most charming book I've ever read." Already a hit in the UK, Stibbe's book is a collection of letters she wrote to her sister while working as a nanny for the editor of the London Review of Books. But, wait—we know what you're thinking! This is not a repeat of The Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada. Instead, just as Semple promises, Stibbe delivers a sweet and charming portrait of a quirky family and their literary pals.
My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer
Algonquin • April 22
What happens when a Southern California girl meets and falls in love with a Libyan-born Muslim? Can there be a happily-ever-after for a bicultural couple raising two kids in the American South? Bremer, an award-winning magazine writer, tells this love story with lyrical style. And, as she notes, "Every single marriage is bicultural" in some sense, so readers everywhere may find themselves unexpectedly identifying with her experiences.
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
Metropolitan • April 29
The reporter who broke the story of Snowden's whistle-blowing and the NSA's massive surveillance operation offers an inside look at how he received the leaked documents that rocked the world. Expect Greenwald to display his usual take-no-prisoners style as he details how the scandal unfolded and how NSA's data gathering will effect privacy (or lack thereof) in the modern age.
The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
FSG • May 6
Cunningham's lyrical latest is set in 2004 New York City, where Barrett Meeks has a heavenly vision in Central Park and gets religion. Meanwhile, his brother Tyler is on a downward spiral as he tries to write a song that is a worthy tribute to his fiancée, Beth, who is battling a serious illness. As Beth's condition worsens, the divide between the Meeks brothers deepens.
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Little, Brown • May 6
What if someone stole your identity online—and became a better "you" than you were? That's the hilarious premise of Ferris' third novel. Ferris, whose first novel, Then We Came to the End, was a finalist for the National Book Award, is the master at portraying the absurdity of modern life, and we can't wait to see what he does with this tantalizing topic.
The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead
Doubleday • May 6
The acclaimed novelist (and wickedly funny Twitter guy) got a plum assignment from Grantland magazine in 2011: a seat at the table for the World Series of Poker. We can't wait to hear Whitehead's satiric take on how an inexperienced player fared in this high-stakes game.
The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings
S&S • May 13
It has been almost seven years since the publication of Kaui Hart Hemmings' promising debut, The Descendants, which became an Alexander Payne film starring George Clooney. This time out, Hemmings is eschewing the lush setting of her native Hawaii for the ski resort town of Breckenridge, but she's continuing her exploration of family bonds and the weight of grief.
Hillary Rodham Clinton memoir by Hillary Clinton
Simon & Schuster • June 1
This much-anticipated memoir doesn't have an official title or cover—or even a publisher-provided description—but no doubt it will be a fascinating account of Clinton's four years serving as the U.S. Secretary of State under President Obama. Will it also provide insight into her 2016 plans? We'll have to wait until June 1 to find out.
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central • June 3
Sounds like the author of Child 44 has given us another thrilling summer read. Daniel's parents are enjoying a quiet retirement in rural Sweden—until the day he gets a phone call from his father saying his mother has had a breakdown and has been committed to an institution. Even as Daniel hurries to Heathrow to catch a plane, he gets a call from his mother saying: Don't believe him.
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Scribner • June 3
The prolific King is back, just nine months after the publication of the thrilling Doctor Sleep, with another up-all-night read—although this time, he's trying his hand at a detective novel. Retired policeman Bill Hodges gets an anonymous note hinting that the man who committed an unsolved crime—a mass murder that still haunts Hodges' dreams—is planning another attack.
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Delacorte • June 10
It's been rescheduled twice, but we're crossing our fingers that the latest volume in the Outlander saga will actually be published this time around. At 832 pages, it will probably take all summer to read about Claire and Jamie's new time-traveling adventures.
Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse
Simon & Schuster • June 10
The publisher is comparing this memoir by the PEN/Hemingway award winner to books like The Glass Castle and The Tender Bar. Abandoned by his Mexican father, Skyhorse grew up with five different stepfathers and a mother who tried to reinvent the family as Native American. The story of how he figured out who he really was—30 years later—should be a fascinating one.
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Putnam • June 17
Brierley, who was raised in poverty in India, became separated from his older brother on a train when he was only five years old. Lost and alone in Calcutta, he was eventually adopted by an Australian family, but never forgot his family back home. Twenty-five years later, he used Google Earth to track them down. Brierley's own retelling of this amazing story—which generated worldwide news coverage in 2012—will be available to American readers for the first time this summer.
The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai
Viking • July 10
Makkai has been hovering just outside of most readers' radars, but attention and appreciate for her work has been growing—her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories for the last four years. Will this imaginative second novel, set on an estate that formerly housed an arts colony, be her breakout book?
The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Viking • August 5
Grossman's Magicians trilogy has sold millions of copies worldwide—and now it's time for the final book in the series. Quentin Coldwater has returned to Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic after being expelled from the land of Fillory. But he can't escape his past, and soon a set of events that put Fillory in jeopardy is set in motion.
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
Random House •
August 5 July 29
In her first novel since 2007's Away, Amy Bloom gives us a rollicking road story starring two half-sisters in the 1940s and '50s. Eva and Iris meet when Eva's mother abandons her on Iris' front porch, and soon the two girls become everything to each other. When Iris decides she wants to be in pictures, Eva becomes her straight man and sidekick on a quest that takes them across the country.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Knopf • August 12
Translators Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin are probably putting the finishing touches on this book, which came out last April in Japan to the usual excitement and acclaim, as I type. Title character Tsukuru Tazaki is a lonely 36-year-old man whose life hasn't exactly turned out as planned—he's still processing the pain of his high school years.
Consumed by David Cronenberg
Scribner • September 2
Yes, that David Cronenberg, director of Crash and A History of Violence, has turned his hand to fiction. Two journalists uncover a global conspiracy in a twisting tale that includes 3D printing, a rare STD, North Korea and the Cannes Film Festival.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Random House • September 4
The genre-bending author, perhaps best known for the novel Cloud Atlas, has put a touch of magic into his upcoming book, The Bone Clocks, which is set partially in a near-future Ireland after the world's climate has collapsed.
Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín
Simon & Schuster • October
His last book, The Testament of Mary, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Now Tóibín returns with a heartbreaking story of Nora Webster, a single mother trying to provide for her two sons amid the turmoil of 1960s Ireland.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
Hogarth • October 28
Faber seems to be veering away from his historical style in the best-selling Crimson Petal to pen a more fantastical tale starring a missionary whose task is to work on an alien planet. "It is an unexpected and wildly original novel about adventure, faith and the ties that might hold two people together when they are worlds apart," quoth the publisher.
Revival by Stephen King
Scribner • November 11
The second 2014 release from this relentlessly imaginative author is a more straightforward horror story dealing with a preacher and a washed-up, drug-addled musician who strike a bargain that is more than a little bit devilish.
More books on our 2014 radar—release dates not yet announced:
Escape from Children's Hospital by Jonathan Safran Foer (Little, Brown)
The American Lover by Rose Tremaine
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (FSG)
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (Ballantine)
An untitled release from Nick Hornby (Riverhead)
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel (Holt)
*release dates subject to change