We're gearing up to recap the best books of 2012, but first, here's a look forward at a few of the fiction releases we're excited about in the first half of 2013. (Note: this post may be periodically updated as new releases are announced.)
Tenth of December by George Saunders (Random House). This ever idiosyncratic writer hasn't published a work of fiction since 2006, so this collection of short stories is highly anticipated. We're expecting plenty of acerbic—and absurdist—commentary on modern life.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Knopf). A literary debut that's drawing praise from the likes of Marilynn Robinson, this book explores the black experience during the Great Migration and the decades that follow through the lives of a couple and their 12 children.
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (Dutton). The acclaimed historical writer's first book to be set in America chronicles the journey of a runaway slave in the 1850s.
White Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse (Viking). Despite the Salvage the Bones rip-off cover art, this novel about Africa in the days of apartheid feels fresh and engaging. A South African refugee who escapes to Botswana and takes a job as a gardener (despite being a former medical student), and forms a bond with the white woman who hires him.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell (Knopf). Russell's imagination always astounds, and her second collection of short stories is full of the sort of hard-edged whimsey that marked her debut collection.
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne (Free Press). Wayne's debut, Kapitoil, won the 2011 Whiting Writers' Award. In his second novel, Wayne satirizes the fame machine. Told in the memorable voice of Jonny, an 11-year-old pop star, this coming-of-age tale is part Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, part A Mother's Gift, and includes one of the most complicated portrayals of the mother-son relationship since Room. (read more)
See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid (FSG). Delayed from last fall, Kincaid's new novel about a fading marriage is said to be inspired heavily by her own life.
Schroder by Amity Gage (Twelve). This intriguing new novel promises to take on the issue of identity—the one we are born with, and the ones we make for ourselves—through the story of a German immigrant.
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (Bloomsbury). This quirky novel set during the final days of the Weimar Republic was on the longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize.
Harvest by Jim Crace (Nan A. Talese). An English village awakes to the troubling sight of twin columns of smoke—sounds like another unsettling tale from the author of Being Dead.
Benediction by Kent Haruf (Knopf). Haruf is a champion when it comes to chronicling the lives of everyday people with dignity and kindness. Here, he serves up a powerful tale of faith and community. (read more)
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead). Buzz is that this could be a breakout novel for Hamid, whose first two books garnered critical acclaim and prize nominations for their insight into relationships between East and West.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Viking). If you found a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore, containing an old diary, would it change your life? The answer in Ozeki's tale is emphatically YES. There's much weirdness and wonder in store in this new novel from the author of My Year of Meats.
Middle C by William H. Gass (Knopf). It has been 17 years since Gass, an influential writer and critic whose work has won just about every award out there, published a novel. This book goes from 1938 Austria to modern-day Ohio in its exploration of evil, sin and blame.
Equilateral by Ken Kalfus (Bloomsbury). Kalfus' previous novel, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, was a 2006 National Book Award finalist. Here the Philadelphia writer goes to Egypt at the turn of the 20th century, where two British scientists are attempting to communicate with Mars—but can barely interact with each other, much less the women in their lives.
Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende (Harper). This novel about a troubled American teen is something of a departure for the best-selling Chilean novelist—it's set in modern times and involves drugs, assassins and the FBI.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (Riverhead). Wolitzer is a favorite here at BookPage, and we can't wait for her latest—a tale of six friends who meet as teenagers at summer camp and whose relationship is challenged by their different backgrounds, successes and failures.
All That Is by James Salter (Knopf). In a season filled with long-awaited novels, this just might be the juggernaut—Salter's last novel, Solo Faces, was published more than 30 years ago, and it's been seven years since he published his last work of fiction, the short story collection Last Night. This novel is billed as "a sweeping, seductive love story set in post-World War II America that tells of one man's great passions and regrets over the course of his lifetime."
The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore (Scribner). Though her two previous novels have been historical, here Gilmore (a former publicity director at Harcourt) takes on the very contemporary subject of infertility and adoption in a story drawn in part from personal experience.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Regan Arthur). A woman named Ursula Todd is born in 1910, only to die—and then be born again, and again, in the years leading up to World War II. Atkinson is excellent at weaving together seemingly disparate plotlines—as displayed in the Jackson Brodie series—so I can't wait to see what she does with the many lives of Ursula Todd.
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud (Knopf). It has been seven years since Messud's last novel—the acclaimed The Emperor's Children—but being married to a literary critic probably doesn't speed up the writing process. She returns with the story of a quiet teacher with dreams of becoming an artist. When she is drawn into a glamorous crowd through the family of one of her students, what appears to be her big break is instead an opening for something more sinister.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf). The first novel in seven years from this brilliant young writer follows two teenagers who fall in love in Nigeria, are separated for years and reunite in their home country to find that it—and they—may have changed forever. (read more)
Montero Caine by Sidney Poitier (Spiegel & Grau). Proving it's never too late to start a new career, award-winning actor Poitier, now in his 80s, is publishing a first novel that blends mystery, science fiction and more. We are intrigued.
And the Mountains Echo by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead). It's been nearly 10 years since Hosseini's dark horse debut hit, The Kite Runner, was published. He returns with (in his own words), "a multi-generational-family story as well, this time revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for each other." (read more)
Which 2013 releases are YOU most looking forward to?