I’m going to be reading last year’s books for a long time to come—it was a really great year for fiction—but I can never resist a peek ahead, and there are a lot of exciting titles coming in 2016.
There’s nothing like a book you’ve been anticipating for years. Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night (Feb. 2), which our starred review says “follows the intrigues and passions of a star soprano in 19th-century Paris,” is his first book since 2002, while Ethan Canin’s A Doubter’s Almanac (Feb. 16), about a troubled math genius, is his first since 2009. Objectively, 2012 wasn’t very long ago, but Louise Erdrich’s fans feel like they’ve been waiting a long time for a follow-up to her National Book Award-winning Round House, and it will be here in May: LaRose.
I wasn’t familiar with Elizabeth McKenzie’s work before, but our starred review of her new novel, The Portable Veblen (Jan. 19), has me seriously intrigued: “On the brink of her marriage, a charmingly quirky, unassumingly intelligent, and winningly warmhearted young woman forges an unusually strong bond with a squirrel.”
Playwright Theresa Rebeck will publish her first novel, I’m Glad About You, in February. Our starred review says it has “the snappy dialogue and plot you’d expect from a veteran dramatist plus the rich exploration of character that novels are made for.” Other highly anticipated first novels include Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Jan. 12), by Sunil Yapa (also the first title from Lee Boudreaux’s new imprint at Little, Brown); Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest (Mar. 22); Molly Prentiss’ Tuesday Nights in 1980 (Apr. 5); Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us (May 3); Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (Jun. 7); Emma Cline’s The Girls (Jun. 14); and Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers (Aug. 23).
Jonathan Lee has published several novels in his native Britain, but High Dive (Mar. 8), will be his first U.S. publication. After their success with Welsh novelist Cynan Jones’intense The Dig last year, Coffee House will be publishing Everything I Found on the Beach on April 5. Text Publishing has been introducing American readers to the Australian novelist Elizabeth Harrower over the past few years; Kirkus called her “rich and rewarding.” Now we’ll get to sample her short stories in A Few Days in the Country (Apr. 12).
The authors of some of my favorite recent summer-vacation reading will have new books this year: Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (Apr. 19), Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s June (May 31), and Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers (May 31). I’m also looking forward to Dana Spiotta’s Innocents and Others (Mar. 8), Jane Mendelsohn’s Burning Down the House (Mar. 15), Lydia Millett’s Sweet Lamb of Heaven (May 3), and Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone (May 5). Looks like I’m going to have to Marie Kondo-ize my bookshelves to make room for all the great fiction coming out this year!
Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.