2021 in books: what to look forward to this year

Kazuo Ishiguro returns with a novel about an artificial friend, Zadie Smith brings the Wife of Bath bang up to date, Bill Gates takes on the climate crisis … a literary calendar for the year ahead

4 Winners of five Costa category awards announced.
8 The Father released – Florian Zeller directs an adaptation of his own play, starring Anthony Hopkins.
11 TS Eliot prize for poetry.
19 Centenary of the birth of Patricia Highsmith, queen of psychological suspense.
22 Netflix adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s Booker winner The White Tiger.
Release of film Chaos Walking, based on first book of Patrick Ness’s eponymous trilogy.
26 Costa awards ceremony, with book of the year announced.

The Netflix adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger.
The Netflix adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger. Photograph: Tejinder Singh Khamkha/NETFLIX


Luster by Raven Leilani (Picador)
In the year’s buzziest debut, a black American millennial tackles the difficulties of work, love, sex and being seen for who you really are.

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
A family grapples with mortality while Australia burns, in a magical realist fable about extinction and Anthropocene despair from the Booker-winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Memorial by Bryan Washington (Atlantic)
His story collection Lot won last year’s Dylan Thomas prize; this deft debut novel explores the complications of family and a gay relationship on the rocks.

A Burning by Megha Majumdar (Scribner)
Three lives entangle in contemporary India, in a debut about class and aspiration that has been a sensation in the US.

The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin (John Murray)
Debut novel about a woman rebuilding her marriage, from the celebrated Irish short story writer.

A River Called Time by Courttia Newland (Canongate)
Ambitious speculative epic set in an alternate London where slavery and colonialism never happened.

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd (Mantle)
Smart, gobble-at-a-sitting thriller about life as a yummy mummy influencer and the dark side of Instagram.

Girl A by Abigail Dean (HarperCollins)
Incendiary, beautifully written thriller debut about siblings living with the emotional legacy of childhood abuse in a ‘House of Horrors’.

The Stranger Times by CK McDonnell (Bantam)
Pratchettesque romp set around a Manchester newspaper dedicated to the paranormal whose reporters get sucked into a battle between good and evil.

Children’s and teen

Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston (Egmont)
Film rights have been snapped up for the first in a new supernatural adventure series with a black heroine.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (Walker)
From the US YA sensation, this hard-hitting prequel to the award-winning The Hate U Give focuses on Starr’s father as a young man.


Living Weapon by Rowan Ricardo Phillips (Faber)
The award-winning American essayist and poet’s first collection to be published in the UK combines civic awareness with an interrogation of language and self.


A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)
The Booker-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo considers the art of fiction through seven classic Russian short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol.

Francis Bacon in his studio,
Francis Bacon in his studio. Photograph: Graham Wood/ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Francis Bacon: Revelations by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan (William Collins)
A “definitive” biography, written with the full cooperation of the Bacon estate and with unrivalled access to the artist’s personal papers.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America by Eddie S Glaude Jr (Chatto & Windus)
Exemplifying the resurgence of interest in Baldwin, this blend of biography, criticism and memoir with the novelist at its heart is an indictment of racial injustice in Trump’s America.

Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera (Viking)
One of a new wave of books on British imperialism, this study, from the likable journalist and author of The Boy With the Topknot, looks at the legacy of empire from the NHS to Brexit and Covid.

Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic by Rachel Clarke (Little, Brown)
The palliative care doctor who scored a hit with her book Dear Life gives an insider account of hospital life as Covid-19 changed everything.

Saving Justice by James Comey (Macmillan)
The former FBI director and author of A Higher Loyalty looks into how institutions of justice in the US were eroded during the Trump presidency.

The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machell (Canongate)
The remarkable story of how a British student with Asperger’s became obsessed with Robin Hood following the global financial crash, and began to rob banks.

4 Centenary of the birth of Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique.
23 Bicentenary of the death of John Keats in Rome.


Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford (Faber)
The author of Golden Hill imagines the lost futures of children killed in the blitz, in a sparkling, humane panorama of miraculous everyday life.

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury)
Following her acclaimed comic memoir Priestdaddy, a fast and furious debut novel about being embedded deep in the digital world.

Patricia Lockwood.
Patricia Lockwood. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose/The Observer

Mother for Dinner by Shalom Auslander (Picador)
Outrageous comedy about identity politics and family ties centred on the Cannibal-American Seltzer clan.

We Are Not in the World by Conor O’Callaghan (Transworld)
Delayed from 2020, the examination of a father-daughter relationship by a rising Irish star.

Maxwell’s Demon by Steven Hall (Canongate)
Long-awaited follow-up to ultra-inventive cult hit The Raw Shark Texts features a man being stalked by a fictional character.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking)
Black British artists fall in love in an intense, elegant debut.

Voices of the Lost by Hoda Barakat, translated by Marilyn Booth (Oneworld)
In a war-torn country, six characters share their secrets, in this international prize for Arabic fiction winner.

Children’s and teen

How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff (Penguin)
A guide to climate change billed as “the young human’s guide to protecting the planet and each other”.


Fall by John Preston (Viking)
The author of A Very English Scandal turns his attention to the last days of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell.

What Does Jeremy Think? by Suzanne Heywood (William Collins)
A set of revealing insider political accounts, written up by the author after conversations with her husband, the former cabinet secretary Lord Heywood, who died of cancer aged 56 in 2018.

Consent: A Memoir by Vanessa Springora, translated by Natasha Lehrer (HarperCollins)
The memoir, by the director of one of France’s leading publishing houses, of her sexual relationship as a teenager with a leading writer.

Bessie Smith in the 1920s.
Bessie Smith in the 1920s. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bessie Smith by Jackie Kay (Faber)
The national poet of Scotland has written a new introduction to her study of the American blues singer, whom she idolised as a young black girl growing up in Glasgow.

Keats by Lucasta Miller (Cape)
A new biography “in nine poems and an epitaph” by the author of The Brontë Myth, to coincide with the bicentenary of the poet’s death.

Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla (Bluebird)
A memoir from the Bristol-based editor of The Good Immigrant, which is also an exploration of “how to raise a brown baby in an increasingly horrible world”.

Karachi Vice by Samira Shackle (Granta)
An impressive account of the inner workings of the Pakistani city, as exposed by the stories of five individuals.

The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster)
The biographer of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a book about Crispr, the revolutionary tool that can edit DNA.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (Allen Lane)
The co-founder of Microsoft discusses the tools needed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Raceless by Georgina Lawton (Sphere)
Reflections on identity along with recollections of growing up as a mixed-race girl raised by two white parents who pursued the untruth that the author’s darker skin was the product of a so-called “throwback gene”.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu (Sceptre)
A descendant of Ashanti royalty recounts growing up without a mother, travelling from country to country and feeling an absence of home – her experience told through the metaphor of earthquakes.

19 Bicentenary of the birth of the explorer, linguist and author Richard Burton, who translated The One Thousand and One Nights and the Kama Sutra into English.


Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
An “Artificial Friend” considers humanity and the meaning of love in Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel literature prize.

Edward St Aubyn.
Edward St Aubyn. Photograph: Timothy Allen

Double Blind by Edward St Aubyn (Harvill Secker)
The author of the Patrick Melrose books investigates themes of inheritance, knowledge and freedom through the connections between three friends over one tumultuous year.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Viking)
This follow-up to her debut Homegoing, focusing on an immigrant Ghanaian family in the American South, has been a huge hit in the US.

Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore (MacLehose)
The French author took the Wellcome science prize for her bravura novel about a heart transplant, Mend the Living; this new book is set in the world of trompe l’œil painting.

Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley (John Murray)
Her debut Elmet made the Booker shortlist; this followup tackles money and class through the inhabitants of London’s Soho.

Kitchenly 434 by Alan Warner (White Rabbit)
The Sopranos author’s tale of a rock star’s butler at the fag end of the 1970s promises to be “Remains of the Day with cocaine and amplifiers”.

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Corsair)
In the sequel to Pulitzer winner The Sympathizer, that novel’s conflicted spy finds himself in the underworld of 80s Paris.

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Michael Joseph)
From the New Zealand writer, a propulsive parallel-worlds fantasy epic about the power of stories and storytelling.

The Mysterious Correspondent by Marcel Proust, translated by Charlotte Mandell (Oneworld)
Nine previously unseen stories illuminate a young writer’s development.

Jeet Thayil.
Jeet Thayil. Photograph: Ishan Tankha/The Guardian

Names of the Women by Jeet Thayil (Cape)
From Mary of Magdala to Susanna the Barren, women whose stories were suppressed in the New Testament.

Redder Days by Sue Rainsford (Doubleday)
Twins in an abandoned commune prepare for apocalypse, in the follow-up to her standout debut Follow Me to Ground.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward (Viper)
A woman believes she has found the monster who snatched her younger sister as a child … Full of twists and turns, this high-concept gothic horror is going to be huge.

Children’s and teen

The Wild Before by Piers Torday (Quercus)
Can one hare change the world? A prequel to the Guardian prize-winning The Last Wild.


Malika Booker.
Malika Booker. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different, edited by Maisie Lawrence and Rishi Dastidar (Corsair)
An anthology celebrating 20 years of writers’ collective Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, featuring work by now well-known alumni including Warsan Shire, Inua Ellams, Roger Robinson and Malika Booker herself.


Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (Allen Lane)
Having spent a year in rehab, the controversial Canadian psychologist, self-styled “professor against political correctness” follows up his global bestseller 12 Rules for Life.

Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert (Bodley Head)
The Pulitzer prize-winning writer of The Sixth Extinction meets scientists and researchers and asks: can we change nature, this time to save it?

Isabel Allende offers an autobiographical meditation.
Isabel Allende. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP

The Soul of a Woman: Rebel Girls, Impatient Love, and Long Life by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury)
An autobiographical meditation from the bestselling novelist on feminism and what women want.

New Yorkers by Craig Taylor (John Murray)
The sequel to Taylor’s bestselling Londoners is another work of oral history, 10 years in the writing and drawing on hundreds of interviews.

The Diaries of Chips Channon, Volume 1: 1918-1938 edited by Simon Heffer (Hutchinson)
The unexpurgated version of the often-quoted diaries of Henry Channon, social climber and Tory MP, who liked to gossip about politics and London society.

A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib (Allen Lane)
From Josephine Baker to Beyoncé … reflections on black performance from the author of a superb book on A Tribe Called Quest.

Inventory of a Life Mislaid by Marina Warner (William Collins)
A memoir from the writer known for her books on feminism, myth and fairytales, which is structured around objects, from her mother’s wedding ring to a 1952 film cylinder.

Friends by Robin Dunbar (Little, Brown)
An exploration of friendship by the anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist known for the Dunbar Number, his theory that we can have meaningful relationships with only 150 people.

The Gun, the Ship and the Pen by Linda Colley (Profile)
The historian best known for Britons retells modern history by considering the spread of written constitutions.

Failures of State by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnot (Mudlark)
Investigative journalists explore all the things the British government got wrong over Covid.

9 Bicentenary of the birth of the influential French poet, translator and critic Charles Baudelaire, author of Les Fleurs du Mal.


Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor (4th Estate)
An inquiry into the meaning of courage in the aftermath of a disastrous Antarctic research expedition, following the Costa-winning Reservoir 13.

Gwendoline Riley.
Gwendoline Riley. Photograph: Adrian Lourie/Writer Pictures

My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley (Granta)
Fearless, darkly witty novel anatomising a toxic mother-daughter relationship.

Civilisations by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor (Harvill Secker)
A “counterfactual history of the modern world” from the author of HHhH, examining the urge for power across time and space.

The High House by Jessie Greengrass (Swift)
Sight was shortlisted for the Women’s prize in 2018; in Greengrass’s second novel, an ordinary family prepares for climate catastrophe.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross (Faber)
Set on a magical archipelago, a big, carnivalesque novel that takes on desire, addiction and postcolonialism, but is also a celebration of food, love and joy.

Haruki Murakami.
Haruki Murakami. Photograph: Ali Smith/Photograph by Ali Smith

First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel (Harvill Secker)
A new collection of eight stories that play with the boundary between memoir and fiction.

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer (4th Estate)
A climate change conspiracy thriller about ecoterrorism and extinction.

The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany (Faber)
A polyphonic novel about the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Male Tears by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury)
Farmers, boxers, ex-cons … Short stories about men and masculinity.

Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith (Cape)
The US army runs a secret genetics programme in this epic graphic novel from the Marvel and Conan artist, 35 years in the making.

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes (Simon & Schuster)
The latest in the thriller series behind Netflix stalker blockbuster You.

Children’s and teen

Weirdo by Zadie Smith and Nick Laird, illustrated by Magenta Fox (Puffin)
This first picture book from the husband and wife writers celebrates “the quiet power of being different” through the story of a guinea pig in a judo suit.

Bone Music by David Almond (Hodder)
The Skellig author’s new novel focuses on a young girl who moves from Newcastle to rural Northumberland and finds herself “rewilded”.


Tishani Doshi.
Tishani Doshi. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

A God at the Door by Tishani Doshi (Bloodaxe)
The witty, wise and clear-eyed novelist, dancer and poet deploys both rage and sharp analysis covering issues from the precarious state of the environment to the treatment of women.

A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi (Chatto & Windus)
The second collection from the Dylan Thomas prize-winner explores both the personal and cultural influences of inheritance.


Philip Roth, in 1968.
Philip Roth, in 1968. Photograph: Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Philip Roth: The Biography by Blake Bailey (Jonathan Cape)
Renowned biographer Bailey was appointed by the American novelist, who died in 2018, and granted independence and complete access to the archive.

Go Big: How To Fix Our World by Ed Miliband (Bodley Head)
Inspired by his “Reasons to be Cheerful” podcast, the shadow cabinet member investigates 20 “transformative solutions” to problems as intractable as inequality and the climate crisis.

How to Love Animals in a Human-Shaped World by Henry Mance (Jonathan Cape)
Tapping into new thinking about animals and our changing perception of them, the FT journalist works in an abattoir, talks to chefs and philosophers and looks to a better future.

Everybody by Olivia Laing (Picador)
An investigation into bodies, which travels across countries, looks at protests and alternative medicine and has at its heart the psychoanalyst and sexual evangelist Wilhelm Reich.

Olivia Laing sitting in her garden
Olivia Laing. Photograph: Ryoty/PR

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne (William Collins)
The biographer of Jane Austen takes on another much-loved English novelist who specialised in social comedy.

One of Them: An Eton College Memoir by Musa Okwonga (Unbound)
Okwonga spent five years at Eton in the 1990s and recalls that time, as well as engaging with such related issues as privilege, the political right and the “boys’ club” of government.

Letters to Camondo by Edmund de Waal (Chatto & Windus)
The author of The Hare with Amber Eyes tells the story of Count Camondo, a prominent Jewish banker and the creator of a vast collection of decorative arts, who lost a son in the first world war and whose daughter and grandchildren died in the Holocaust.

Rachel Kushner.
Rachel Kushner. Photograph: Chloe Aftel

The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner (Cape)
The first essay collection from the American author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room, covering topics such as the San Francisco music scene and her first love, motorbikes.

I Belong Here by Anita Sethi (Bloomsbury)
The report of a lone walk along the Pennines, the “backbone of Britain”, undertaken in the wake of a race hate crime.

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in The Black Widow, to be released in May.
Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in The Black Widow, to be released in May. Photograph: Allstar/MARVEL STUDIOS\DISNEY/JAY MAIDMENT

7 Release of Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the Marvel comic book character.
9 Centenary of the premiere of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.
11 20 years since the death of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.
21 Release of Lawrence: After Arabia, depicting the final phase of TE Lawrence’s life – was his death in a motorcycle accident suspicious?
27 Hay festival opens, running until 6 June.
28 Release of Cruella, starring Emma Stone as Dodie Smith’s character Cruella de Vil.


Second Place by Rachel Cusk (Faber)
Following her Outline trilogy, Cusk explores relationships, male privilege and the power of art through an encounter between a woman and a famous male artist.

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker)
From the author of Year of the Runaways, the twin stories of a bride in rural Punjab in 1929, and a young man travelling there from England 70 years later, traumatised by addiction and racism, looking for a sense of home.

The Rules of Revelation by Lisa McInerney (John Murray)
Further misadventures in Cork from the Women’s prize-winning author of The Glorious Heresies.

Jhumpa Lahiri.
Jhumpa Lahiri. Photograph: Nico Rodriguez/EPA

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)
Lahiri fell in love with Italy as a young woman; she wrote this novel about a woman at the midpoint of her life in Italian before creating an English version.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday)
The second novel by the Dylan Thomas prize-winner is a big, ambitious narrative about a vanished female aviator.

Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell (Faber)
A second collection of stories from the Northern Irish playwright focuses on women finding their place in the world.

Careless by Kirsty Capes (Orion)
Coming-of-age debut about a girl in the care system.

Red Milk by Sjón, translated by Victoria Cribb (Sceptre)
The story of a young neo-Nazi in post second world war Iceland sheds light on the far-right global movement today.

Panenka by Rónán Hession (Bluemoose)
The follow-up to cult hit Leonard and Hungry Paul features a man who has suffered half his life for the mistakes of the past.

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (Viking)
A story of prejudice and murder in the 1950s, based on a real wrongful conviction in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay.

Last Days in Cleaver Square by Patrick McGrath (Hutchinson)
An old man who fought in the Spanish civil war is haunted by the ghost of General Franco, in a novel about reckoning with the past set in 70s London.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Hutchinson)
Family secrets fly in the follow-up to bestseller Daisy Jones and the Six, as a glamorous clan in 80s Malibu throws a party that gets out of control.

Children’s and teen

The Swallows’ Flight by Hilary McKay (Macmillan)
A companion novel to the Costa-winning The Skylarks’ War, following friends on both sides of the conflict in the second world war.


Pandemonium by Andrew McMillan (Cape)
The Guardian first book prize-winner, acclaimed for his studies of bodies experiencing pressure and pleasure, now turns his attention to stresses placed on the mind.


Graphic novel illustrator and cartoonist Alison Bechdel.
Alison Bechdel. Photograph: Oliver Parini/The Observer

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (Jonathan Cape)
A graphic memoir exploring the American cartoonist’s obsession with exercise and fitness fads.

Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R Sunstein (William Collins)
Three authors, known for Thinking Fast and Slow, Nudge and other books, combine in a study of how to improve decision-making by reducing “background noise”.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (Picador)
An American investigative journalist uncovers the secrets of the controversial pharmaceutical family.

Burning Man: The Trials of DH Lawrence by Frances Wilson (Bloomsbury)
A sparkling biography that focuses on Lawrence between 1915 and his diagnosis with TB in 1925.

Deborah Levy.
Deborah Levy. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Real Estate by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton)
The final instalment in the award-winning “living autobiography” series following Things I Don’t Want To Know and The Cost of Living

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard (Allen Lane)
A forest ecologist who has conducted decades of research on the “wood wide web” considers how trees communicate with each other.

Everything You Really Need to Know about Politics by Jess Phillips (Simon & Schuster)
The opposition frontbench politician lifts the lid on the mysteries of Westminster.

Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson (Allen Lane)
The historian takes a timely look at disasters, and how nations cope with them.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal.
Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/MCA/UNIVERSAL

International Booker prize winner announced.
7 Fifty years since the publication of Frederick Forsyth’s thriller The Day of the Jackal.
10 Centenary of publication of first full edition of DH Lawrence’s Women in Love.
16 Women’s prize for fiction winner announced, in the month that marks 25 years since Helen Dunmore won the inaugural Orange prize.


A Shock by Keith Ridgway (Picador)
This long-awaited follow-up to Hawthorn & Child focuses on marginal figures on the fringes of London life.

Tokyo Redux by David Peace (Faber)
The third novel in Peace’s Tokyo trilogy follows a missing persons investigation during the postwar US occupation.

The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
Smith translates Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath” to northwest London in a rollicking dramatic monologue.

The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus)
From a twice Booker-shortlisted author, the story of South Africa from apartheid to Jacob Zuma, through the decline of one Afrikaner family.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Bloomsbury)
Buzzy debut set in publishing that explores race and class in the workplace.

Assembly by Natasha Brown (Hamish Hamilton)
Debut about race in modern Britain, set over one day as a high-flying black woman considers her relationship to the establishment.

Monument Maker by David Keenan (White Rabbit)
Genre-straddling epic set around France’s great cathedrals from the author of This Is Memorial Device.

Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver (Borough)
A married couple decide on a suicide pact to avoid the indignities of old age, in a satire on society’s attitudes to ageing that plays with multiple endings.

Yan Lianke.
Yan Lianke. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Hard Like Water by Yan Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas (Chatto & Windus)
Love and sex during the Cultural Revolution, from the author of Serve the People!.

The Day I Fell Off My Island by Yvonne Bailey-Smith (Myriad)
A semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel set in Jamaica and London in the 60s and 70s from Zadie’s mother.

The President’s Daughter by Bill Clinton and James Patterson (Century)
Another outing for the high-profile thriller writing duo.

Children’s and teen

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Usborne)
Gossip Girl meets Get Out”: the debut thriller about high-school racism by a British student that netted a million-dollar deal in the US.


12 Bytes by Jeanette Winterson (Jonathan Cape)
A dozen essays on AI from the writer and feminist, whose most recent novel is Frankissstein.

Sinéad O’Connor brings out her memoir, Rememberings, in June.
Sinéad O’Connor brings out her memoir, Rememberings, in June. Photograph: Andrew Chin/Getty Images

Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor (Sandycove)
A “revelatory” memoir from the Irish singer-songwriter, known for her controversial political gestures and conversion to Islam.

Seven Ways to Change the World by Gordon Brown (Simon & Schuster)
News ways of thinking in the light of the global pandemic, by the former PM.

All in It Together: England in the Early 21st Century by Alwyn Turner (Profile)
A history of modern times, ranging from the smoking ban and Grindr to Brexit and Covid.

An Extra Pair of Hands by Kate Mosse (Wellcome)
A “deeply personal” memoir from the bestselling novelist about finding herself, in middle age, caring for her relatives.

Connections: The Story of Human Feeling by Karl Deisseroth (Viking)
An ambitious story-packed study of mental illness and the nature of human emotion from a neuroscientist who has conducted breakthrough research.

My Mess Is a Bit of a Life by Georgia Pritchett (Faber)
A funny memoir about anxiety from a comedy screenwriter who has worked on Miranda, Veep and Succession.

Consumed by Arifa Akbar (Sceptre)
A memoir from the Guardian chief theatre critic about her sister who died of TB, which also considers the history of the disease.

The Nature of Middle-earth by JRR Tolkien
The Nature of Middle-earth. Photograph: HarperCollins

The Nature of Middle-earth by JRR Tolkien, edited by Carl F Hostetter (HarperCollins)
A collection by Tolkien of previously unpublished scholarly companion pieces to his stories, covering such topics as Elvish immortality and the geography of Gondor.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness by Charlie English (William Collins)
A study of the Prinzhorn collection of art made by mental health patients, and Hitler’s campaign against “degenerate art”.

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Absolutely Everything by Jordan Ellenberg (Allen Lane)
The author of a bestselling book on the “power of mathematical thinking” looks at how geometry affects computer-learning, democracy and much else besides.

A Stinging Delight by David Storey (Faber)
A posthumous autobiography by the professional rugby league player, Booker prize-winner and author of This Sporting Life.

27 75th anniversary of the death of Gertrude Stein.


Author Lisa Taddeo photographed at her home in Washington, Connecticut, USA by Christopher Beauchamp, June 2019 for the Observer New Review
Lisa Taddeo. Photograph: Christopher Beauchamp/The Observer

Animal by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury)
The debut novel from the author of nonfiction hit Three Women is a road trip featuring a woman who is driven to kill.

The Cuckoo Cage: British Superheroes, edited by Ra Page (Comma)
Derek Owusu, Courttia Newland and more draw on folk heroes from protest history to imagine a new generation of radical changemakers.

Jane Is Trying by Isy Suttie (W&N)
The comic’s debut novel features a woman in her late 30s whose life is going off the rails.


Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire (Chatto & Windus)
A first full collection by the poet best known for featuring in Beyoncé’s Lemonade film engages with “sex, death, race, religion and feminism”.


the sea is not made of water by Adam Nicholson (HarperCollins)
The versatile author, whose recent The Making of Poetry received rave reviews, turns his attention to the sea.

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah (Dialogue)
Six years of conversations about sex and relationships have resulted in a report that is being compared to Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women.

Home in the World by Amartya Sen (Allen Lane)
The memoir of the influential Indian economist who witnessed the Bengal famine in 1943 and has gone on to hold numerous top academic jobs.

Lucy Ellmann follows her novel Ducks, Newburyport with a collection of essays.
Lucy Ellmann follows her novel Ducks, Newburyport with a collection of essays. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Things Are Against Us by Lucy Ellmann (Galley Beggar)
Essays on sex strikes, Trump, Hitchcock and other subjects from the author of the acclaimed novel Ducks, Newburyport.

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig (Canongate)
The bestselling author returns with a blend of “philosophy, memoir and self-reflection”, described as “a hug in written form”.

Twenty-five years since Bloomsbury accepted JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel in 1996.
14-30 Edinburgh international book festival.
15 250th anniversary of the birth of the seminal historical novelist Walter Scott.


The Women of Troy by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton)
In this sequel to The Silence of the Girls, former queen Briseis observes the aftermath of the fall of Troy.

Karl Ove Knausgård.
Karl Ove Knausgård. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgård, translated by Martin Aitken (Harvill Secker)
His first novel since the autobiograpical My Struggle series will be very different, with a range of characters reacting to the appearance of a new star in the sky.

The Country of Others by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor (Faber)
In the first volume of a trilogy about a French family after the second world war, a French woman falls in love with a Moroccan soldier.

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad (Picador)
The author of American War gives a child’s view of the global refugee crisis.

Waiting for the Waters to Rise by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox (World Editions)
From the “alternative Nobel laureate”, a love letter to the Caribbean islands, in which a child is in search of their family in Haiti.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday)
A man is murdered on a London houseboat in the new thriller from the Girl on the Train author.

Children’s and teen

Malorie Blackman
Malorie Blackman. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Endgame by Malorie Blackman (Penguin)
The final volume in the groundbreaking Noughts & Crosses series.


The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan (Bloomsbury)
An investigation into male sexual entitlement, porn and other areas where sex and politics meet, by the youngest ever Chichele professor of social and political theory at Oxford, who is also the first woman and person of colour to hold the post.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman (Bodley Head)
If you live to 80 your lifespan is four thousand weeks … an uplifting and original exploration of how to use our time well by the former Guardian columnist.

Tunnel 29 by Helena Merriman (Hodder & Stoughton)
The story, already told in a successful podcast, of Joachim Rudolph, who dug a tunnel underneath the Berlin wall to rescue people from the GDR.

A replica of “Tunnel 29” at the museum of the original escape tunnel from West Berlin to East Berlin at Brunnenstrasse.
A replica of “Tunnel 29” at the museum of the original escape tunnel from West Berlin to East Berlin at Brunnenstrasse. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

School’s Out by Ryan Wilson (Chatto & Windus)
Described as “warm and witty”, the memoir of a teacher from stumbling first days to head of sixth form to burnout.

Dante by Alessandro Barbero (Profile)
A new biography, translated by Allan Cameron, marking the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet’s death.

Curepedia: An A to Z of the Cure by Simon Price (White Rabbit)
A biography of the still-feted band by a music journalist who became a fan of the Cure as a 16-year-old in the 1980s.


The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Viking)
The Master centred on Henry James; here Tóibín explores the life and work of Thomas Mann.

Colson Whitehead.
Colson Whitehead. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Fleet)
Whitehead describes his follow-up to The Nickel Boys as a “lively heist” novel set amid the crime syndicates of 1960s New York.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers (William Heinemann)
His tree epic The Overstory was Booker shortlisted; now Powers focuses on an astrobiologist searching for life on other planets and negotiating his relationship with his troubled son.

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka (Bloomsbury)
The Nobel laureate’s first novel in almost 50 years promises “murder, mayhem and no shortage of drama” in contemporary Nigeria.

The Thursday Murder Club 2 by Richard Osman (Viking)
Last year the Pointless co-host’s cosy crime debut set in a retirement home broke sales records; here comes the sequel.

Waters of Salvation by Richard Coles (W&N)
A new crime series from everyone’s favourite vicar begins as a proposal to refurbish a village church ends in murder; Canon Daniel Clement must investigate.

Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout (Viking)
Following 2019’s much loved Olive, Again, a new novel from the Pulitzer prize-winner.

Matrix by Lauren Groff (William Heinemann)
The follow-up to US hit Fates and Furies traces a 12th-century Frenchwoman who becomes the prioress of a failing abbey in England.

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson)
A new novel from the Birdsong author, set against the build-up to the second world war.

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett (Jonathan Cape)
The second novel from the author of Pond is about a woman “who finds herself in love, in conflict with life and death, and in a life made of books”.

A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris (Viking)
A novel of fathers and sons from the Booker-shortlisted US author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.

The Whistleblower by Robert Peston (Zaffre)
The journalist’s debut thriller is set amid dodgy interests in 1997, with New Labour on the brink of power.

Untitled by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins)
The historical novelist’s first Sharpe novel since 2006’s Sharpe’s Fury.


All The Names Given by Raymond Antrobus (Picador)
Antrobus explores his own ancestry to trace how the long legacies of colonialism and the more immediate influences of childhood play themselves out.

The Owl and the Nightingale by Simon Armitage (Faber)
After Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl, the poet laureate returns to Middle English verse and the argument between two birds that was captured in literature’s first “debate poem”.


Rationality by Steven Pinker (Allen Lane)
A “toolkit for thinking rationally” from the psychologist and outspoken atheist convinced that everything is getting better

Untitled by Eileen Atkins (Virago)
A memoir from the award winning actor and co-creator of Upstairs, Downstairs.

Ai Wei Wei’s memoir will be published in September.
Ai Wei Wei’s memoir will be published in September. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Untitled by Ai Wei Wei (Bodley Head)
A memoir and cultural history from the Chinese artist and activist, who has taken critical stances against his country’s government.

Foragers and Kings by David Graeber and David Wengrow (Allen Lane)
A new history of humanity, finished three weeks before the death last year of the anthropologist and anarchist Graeber.

Terry Pratchett: The Official Biography by Rob Wilkins (Doubleday)
The life of the much-loved author of the Discworld series by his right-hand man and friend for 25 years.

Terry Pratchett in 2008.
Terry Pratchett in 2008. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/REX

On Freedom by Maggie Nelson (Jonathan Cape)
The hugely influential writer of The Argonauts considers how the concept of freedom is used and abused in relation to art, sex, drugs and climate.

Greek Myths by Charlotte Higgins (Jonathan Cape)
An inspired retelling by the Guardian journalist of the story of Heracles, the Trojan war and other tales – as if they were scenes being woven on to textiles by women.

The Gold Machine by Iain Sinclair (Oneworld)
The psychogeographer and phrasemaker retraces with his daughter a journey to Peru made in 1891 by his great-grandfather.

Shutdown: How the Coronavirus Made a Financial Revolution by Adam Tooze (Allen Lane)
A high-speed account from the respected historian of how Covid-19 ravaged the global economy.

Hard Times: The Permanent Problem of Political (Dis)order by Helen Thompson (OUP)
A dissection of our political predicament by the Cambridge professor and contributor to the Talking Politics podcast

Dune will be released in October.
Dune will be released in October. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

1 Release of Dune, based on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic starring Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson and Timotheé Chalamet.
3 Twenty-five years since the premiere of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.
8-17 Cheltenham literature festival.
18 Seventy-fifth anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine’s debut in the second of the Rev W Awdry’s children’s books.


Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate)
A hat tip to Middlemarch in the first of the A Key to All Mythologies trilogy, examining the myths and realities of American life through the story of one family in the 1970s.

Burntcoat by Sarah Hall (Faber)
A dying sculptor looks back on her erotic life during lockdown in a new novel from the acclaimed short-story writer.

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Saraband)
From the Booker-shortlisted author of His Bloody Project, a metafictional investigation into analysis and responsibility focused on a controversial 60s psychotherapist.

A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls (Fitzcarraldo)
The concluding volume in a major series from the great Norwegian writer.

Diary of A Suburban Lady by Lucy Mangan (Souvenir)
The Guardian journalist’s first novel is a comedy of domestic life, inspired by EM Delafield’s classic Diary of a Provincial Lady.

The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola (Dialogue)
Raw novel about a young Londoner facing police brutality and political angst, who must decide if his life is worth living.


Louise Glück.
Louise Glück. Photograph: Daniel Ebersole/AP

Winter Recipes from the Collective by Louise Glück (Carcanet)
2020 Nobel literature laureate’s first poetry collection in seven years.


Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit (Granta)
The American writer takes a distinctive approach to Orwell’s life and messages, centred on his love of nature and gardening.

David Sedaris.
David Sedaris. Photograph: Publicity image

A Carnival of Snackeries by David Sedaris (Little, Brown)
More funny vignettes and revelations from the American humorist in a second volume of diaries, following Theft by Finding.

HG Wells by Claire Tomalin (Viking)
The renowned biographer of Pepys, Jane Austen, Dickens and others has long been at work on this study of the author of The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man.

This Book Is a Song by Jarvis Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
The Pulp frontman and broadcaster, who is in danger of becoming a national treasure, writes about creativity.

Spiderwoman by Lady Hale (Bodley Head)
A memoir from the former president of the supreme court of the UK with the spider brooch, known for her bombshell ruling that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the Brexit deadline in 2019 was unlawful.

The Joy of Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson (Faber)
A witty and wise appreciation of the small pleasures of life from the Guardian columnist.

Lady Hale during the verdict on the prorogation of British parliament, 24 September 2019.
Lady Hale during the verdict on the prorogation of British parliament, 24 September 2019. Photograph: Supreme Court/HANDOUT HANDOUT/EPA

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (Fig Tree)
The Devil Wears Prada and The Hunger Games actor on growing up in an Italian American family, and the importance of a good meal

Winston Churchill by Tariq Ali (Verso)
A biography, likely to be the “life and crimes” rather than the “life and times” of the wartime leader and imperialist.

Everything, All the Time, Everywhere by Stuart Jeffries (Verso)
A history of postmodernism, from the early 70s to now, appearing at a moment when it is so often implicated in the culture wars.

Booker prize awarded.
Fifty years since the Booker prize went to VS Naipaul for In a Free State, the first winner of colour.
11 Bicentenary of the birth of Fyodor Dostoevsky.


Untitled by John Banville (Viking)
A new novel from the Booker-winning author of The Sea.

Helen Oyeyemi.
Helen Oyeyemi. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (Faber)
The story of a mysterious train journey from the ingenious author of White Is for Witching and Mr Fox.

Twelve Percent Dread by Emily McGovern (Picador)
Second graphic novel from the Bloodlust and Bonnets author, in which two young women navigate the anxieties of modern life in London.

The Gardener by Salley Vickers (Viking)
The follow-up to 2019’s Grandmothers.


Howdie-Skelp by Paul Muldoon (Faber)
Muldoon’s compelling capaciousness here takes in a remade The Waste Land, an elegy for his fellow Northern Irish poet Ciaran Carson, sonnet responses to lockdown and translations from 9th-century Irish.


Silent Catastrophes: Essays on Literature by WG Sebald (Hamish Hamilton)
A collection of literary criticism from the author of Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn.

The Waste Land: TS Eliot, Ezra Pound and the Making of a Masterpiece by Matthew Hollis (Faber)
The poet, editor and Costa biography award-winning author of a study of Edward Thomas considers the writing of one of the 20th century’s most famous poems.

Steve Van Zandt with Bruce Springsteen.
Steve Van Zandt with Bruce Springsteen. Photograph: Dave Allocca/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Untitled memoir by Steve Van Zandt (White Rabbit)
Recollections from the guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, who also starred in The Sopranos.

12 Bicentenary of the birth of the French novelist Gustave Flaubert, best known for Madame Bovary.
27 One hundred and fifty years since the publication of Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll’s second Alice novel.

Originally published in the Guardian UK

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