It’s going to be a tremendous year in fiction. Award-winning authors are returning with new novels, hotly anticipated series are launching, and we even have a sequel 24 years in the making. Take a look at what books we’re most looking forward to in 2019.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James (February 5)
The Man Booker Prize-winning (A Brief History of Seven Killings) author’s first book in a planned fantasy trilogy entitled “The Dark Star Trilogy.” The narrator, Tracker, encounters dangerous terrain, magical creatures, and more while searching for a kidnapped boy in sub-Saharan Africa. The book is already being hailed as the most impactful fantasy novel since A Game of Thrones hit bookshelves 22 years ago.
Leading Men, by Christopher Castellani (February 12)
As Frank Merlo lay dying of cancer in 1963, he reminisces on a decade back, when he and his longtime (and now absent) lover Tennessee Williams met a young actress named Anja Blomgren. The book jumps between the timelines, navigating the tensions between public figures and their private lives. It’s a wonderful examination of artists, the people who love them, and how love changes an artists’ work.
Gingerbread, by Helen Oyeyemi (March 5)
Inspired by the hold gingerbread has on children’s stories, Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird) has written a delightful tale about family secrets and relationships. Perdita Lee’s mother Harriet was famous for her gingerbread recipe – or so Perdita thought. As Perdita searches for her mother’s long-lost friend, she encounters jealousy, family grudges, and ambition – while gingerbread remains the only constant.
My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing (March 26)
Downing’s debut novel is a thrilling instant classic. When police discover the corpse of a missing woman, the unnamed narrator is startled. You see, he and his wife, Millicent – part of a classic suburban family – were the ones that kidnapped her… to spice up their marriage. Millicent disposed of the body, and it wasn’t supposed to be found. Now what? The tension and distrust grows and grows to a thrilling climax.
Normal People, by Sally Rooney (April 16)
Irish author Sally Rooney (Conversations with Friends) is back with a follow-up novel about love, class, and family. Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other at school, but develop a connection after Connell picks up his mother from her job at Marianne’s house. As they move on to college and beyond, they veer in-and-out of each other’s lives, confronting how far they’ll go to save the other.
Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan (April 23)
The great British storyteller returns with a new novel. It’s the 1980s in London, and there’s a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Charlie, a drifter with money, buys a new synthetic human. With the help of Miranda, with whom he is in love, they design “Adam’s” personality. From there, romance ensues, and the three beings must confront a fundamental question: what makes us human?
Children of Virtue and Vengeance, by Tomi Adeyemi (June 4)
The second book in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy, following-up the bestselling Children of Blood and Bone. The YA fantasy series draws inspiration from West African mythology as well as Western fantasy fiction. The main characters, Zélie and Amari, continue to work to bring together the people of Orïsha as a civil war looms. This series captures revolution, faith, and star-crossed love in raw and distinctive ways.
Recursion, by Blake Crouch (June 11)
This novel has been acquired by Shonda Rhimes and Netflix for a blockbuster film adaptation before it even hits shelves. A neuroscientist has developed a technology that allows humans to preserve and relive their most intense memories. To be able to reexperience a first kiss or a last moment with a parent seems wonderful – but as people soon discover, it could destroy what it means to be human.
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (July 16)
Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad) is back with the story of a brutal reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. Elwood Curtis is a good, successful young boy that made one innocent mistake. Now, he must attend the chamber of horrors known as the Nickel Academy, where his ideals butt up against his friend’s skepticism.
The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (September 10)
The resurgence of The Handmaid’s Tale in recent years has inspired Atwood to deliver a sequal. The Testaments takes place 15 years after Offred’s final scene in the original novel. Three female characters will narrate, though it has not been confirmed whether they are from the original novel. Said Atwood in November: “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead… is the inspiration for this book.”
The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern (November 5)
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) returns with a timeless love story set in a secret underground world. Zachary Rawlins is paging through a university library when he discovers a book hidden in the stacks – a book that inexplicably holds a real story from his childhood. Following clues, he finds himself in a mysterious place of pirates, painters, and ships on a starless sea, discovering his own purpose.