The 27 Most Anticipated Books of 2018
No matter how you're feeling at year end, the most dependable source of hope is a look at the art that's coming soon in the new year. From splashy debut novels to essay collections by some established authors, the first third of 2018 has wonderful books to look out for.
1| Neon in Daylight by Hermione Hoby
The outsider-in-New-York-City novel is a genre unto itself, and Neon In Daylight is a most lovely addition. In Hermione Hoby’s debut novel, a young British woman gets swept up in her desire for new experiences, only some of which are entirely self-destructive. As Hurricane Sandy looms over the steamy city, her entanglement with a Manhattan father and daughter threaten to lead to its own stormy crescendo.
2| Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
This is the dystopia that the right wing wants. In Leni Zumas’s near-future America, abortion is illegal and fetuses have more rights than women. But don’t expect a simple political screed from this sharp debut—the characters in Red Clocks are nuanced and funny, and the novel itself is as in-your-face yet strangely beautiful as the cover art.
3| A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story About Schizophrenia by Sandra Allen
Allen, a former BuzzFeed reporter, is the niece of a schizophrenic man who spent his life in and out of mental facilities. When he sends her a barely readable manuscript--the story of his life—she lovingly uses her many skills as a writer to tell his story. She calls the beautiful final product a cover version—rather than a translation—and it is a marvel.
4| Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
Oliver Loving has been paralyzed and locked in his own mind for nearly a decade, the result of a shooting in his small Texas town. In Stefan Merrill Block’s psychologically astute novel, the damaged people that surround Oliver try to piece together their own versions of what happened that night and since then, even as doctors prepare a new treatment that might help Oliver communicate again.
5| The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Here is one of those rare young adult fantasy novels that holds a self-contained world in only a few hundred pages. So much world-building, so little space. If the novel’s heroine is a teenage girl, then her story will appeal to readers of all ages, with its intrigue and strange fairy tale magic and very grown up writing.
6| This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
Morgan Jerkins is young and opinionated and her debut collection—told with equal parts tenderness and fierce intellect—is everything you could hope for from a promising new voice in essays and criticism. Jerkins combines personal stories with cultural observations and commentary to portray what it’s like to be a black feminist in America today.
7| Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
Sometimes a writer’s voice is so distinctive, so angry and messy yet wise, that her story takes on the kind of urgency that makes you turn pages faster and faster. Terese Marie Mailhot has one of those voices, and her memoir about being raised on a Canadian reservation and coming to understand what it means to be an indigenous person in modern times is breathtaking.
8| Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Ada, the heroine of Akwaeke Emezi’s unforgettable debut novel, is not the narrator of her own story. Those duties belong to the other “selves” that occupy her body, more in an ancient souls trapped in a human shell kind of way than a Multiple Personality Disorder way, but the outcome is the same. The conflicts inside her head have voices, and they follow her from her childhood in Nigeria to college in America, ensuring that chaos imbues every step in her journey toward self-discovery.
9| Feel Free by Zadie Smith
Maybe the only thing better than Zadie Smith’s prose is her nonfiction. Her latest collection of essays concerns observations on a wide variety of subjects from social media to global warming to Joni Mitchell and rap music. Her gathered New York Review of Books pieces are worth the price of admission alone.
10| An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy should have the perfect life together. But just after they’ve wed, on the brink of what should be the happy ending to their American Dream, Roy is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Novelist Jones writes brilliantly about expectations and loss and racial injustice, and how love must evolve when our best laid plans go awry.
11| What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson
Even in her fiction, Marilynne Robinson has a nonjudgmental, earnest way of writing about religion that could make an atheist long for spirituality. President Obama is a fan. In this essay collection theology and current events and philosophy take center stage, and it’s through the clarity of Robinson’s words that hope in times of political strife feels appropriate and urgent.
12| The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu
Sometimes you need a person who has literally seen both sides to make the most compelling argument. A descendant of Mexican immigrants, Francisco Cantu policed the deserts of the American South as a United States border patrol agent. His dispatches, in which he recounts the dire circumstances under which desperate people attempt to gain entry, are a must-read for anyone who thinks “build a wall” is the answer to anything.
13| Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin
The women and girls in Danielle Lazarin’s deeply affecting debut story collection are desperate for connection, whether to family members or friends or acquaintances thrown together by circumstance. There are also a few love interests, but this is not a book about romantic love—it’s about the loneliness that is a companion to so much of the love we undertake.
14| How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
Like a vampire novel without the messy bloodsucking, How To Stop Time is the story of a man with a rare condition: he ages incredibly slowly. So even though Tom looks like a middle-aged man, he’s been alive for hundred of years. With lots of fun special guests throughout history, Matt Haig’s magical novel asks the big philosophical questions: What makes a life—particularly a very, very long life—worth living?
15| The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassaras
In Paris is Burning-era Harlem, when disco queens were giving way to drag queens and ball culture was allowing LGBT youth to explore every notch on the gender spectrum, the world seems to be wide open for 17 year-old Angel. But as Angel discovers in Joseph Cassaras’s propulsive and profound first novel, finding one’s home in the world—particularly in a subculture plagued by fear and intolerance from society—comes with tragedy as well as extraordinary personal freedom.
16| Some Hell by Patrick Nathan
A heartbreaker of a book, Patrick Nathan’s debut novel captures the hell of adolescence under particularly dire circumstances: Colin is reeling from his father’s suicide even as he navigates coming of age as a gay teenager. As they are wont to do, sex and death dominate Colin’s thoughts as he makes his way, in agony but with an eye towards a hopeful future.
17| The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
No one can write a weighty British novel like Alan Hollinghurst. His latest epic has all the hallmarks of his best works, including the Man Booker prize-winning The Line of Beauty. Hollinghurst once again writes to perfection about family, art, money (or lack thereof), gay life, and the ways in which our pasts and presents intersect.
18| Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead
If the title of Kate Greathead’s debut evokes a Jane Austen novel, well, it’s fitting for an incisive comedy of manners about class divides and the “burdens” of being born privileged. Set on the Upper East Side, Laura & Emma is the story of a single mother and the daughter who challenges all of her progressive notions and the way of life she takes for granted.
19| The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg
Look out, Angela Carter. There’s a new feminist fairy tale queen in town, and her imagination is as sharp as her wit. Ortberg, co-founder of the beloved website The Toast, takes her column “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” to new heights in this collection of twisted tales that will shock and delight you.
20| Circe by Madeline Miller
With Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller brought Greek mythical characters to technicolor life. Her second novel recasts the witch famous for turning her enemies into pigs into a fiercely empathetic and multi-layered figure. With sumptuous writing and descriptive imagery you’ll see these gods and men and every being in between as you’ve never imagined them before.
21| The Recovering by Leslie Jamison
Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, writes about personal experiences in a way that feels universal. Her latest, a memoir of her recovery from alcoholism, is not concerned with her descent, or lurid details about when she hit rock bottom. It’s about the daily struggle to make herself whole again after nearly losing herself, and her vulnerability and determination are present on every page.
22| The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Finally, a novel about a complicated relationship that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: that between mentor and mentee. Full of Meg Wolitzer’s signature acumen and insight, The Female Persuasion tracks Greer, a burgeoning writer, as she begins her career as an assistant at a famous feminist’s foundation. Their relationship is inspiring and fulfilling and frustrating as so many are, and ultimately ambitious and idealistic Greer must confront the tradeoffs we make in order to change the world just a bit.
23| Sharp by Michelle Dean
If your heart doesn’t skip a beat when you look at the cover of Sharp, move along to the next entry. Still here? Of course you are. Michelle Dean’s debut is a paean to the complicated foremothers of 20th century criticism, including Didion, Sontag, Arendt, Ephron, and more. Dean argues that the women she covers are united in their ability to get to the heart of any cultural issue, and in covering the women as such, Dean proves that she can, as well.
24| And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell
Is anyone ever fully prepared for parenthood? When she found out she was pregnant at the age of 29, Meaghan O’Connell writes,“Part of me loved this feeling, of being steamrolled by life, of being totally fucked.” In her brutally honest and funny and intimate way, O’Connell writes about confronting motherhood with a great deal of ambivalence, but a ton of heart in any case.
25| White Houses by Amy Bloom
Fictionalized accounts of the lives of real people in history have been all the rage lately, but few are as pitch perfect and fascinating as Amy Bloom’s take on Lorena Hickok, the woman who Eleanor Roosevelt loved. Hick’s relationship with the President’s wife comes vividly and tenderly to life, even as the two women must contain their love to hidden corners of the White House.
26| How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
If the titles of his essay collection sounds a little prescriptive, well, the novelist Alexander Chee has been a beloved writing teacher and generous supporter of fellow authors for quite a while. His first collection of nonfiction is a lovely reminder that there is indeed an art to the personal essay, and he is a master artist.
27| Tangerine by Christine Mangan
The thriller that everyone will be talking about this spring, Tangerine is one of those sinuous, Hitchcockian tales that disorients in the best way. Set in Morocco in the 1950s, Christine Mangan’s hypnotic debut concerns two college friends who reunite in Tangier and their differing points of view about their loaded relationship.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.