Happy New Year! We’ve moved past the “looking back” phase of 2022 and are on to the “looking ahead” phase of 2023. Here are 10 fiction titles to keep an eye out for.
Deepti Kapoor’s Age of Vice (Riverhead, Jan. 3) tells the story of Ajay, a poor boy from Uttar Pradesh who goes to work for a rich, ruthless family. Soon he’s made to take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit. “It doesn’t take long for the reader to become invested in the Mario Puzo–esque drama,” says our review.
Why would a coffee roaster, a lawyer, and their housemates be operating a gunrunning operation from their Brooklyn brownstone? You’ll find out in The Survivalists (Soft Skull, Jan. 10), a novel by Kashana Cauley, a former writer for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. Our starred review says: “What really sets this debut novel apart is its finely tuned balance between extremes: humor and drama, conspiracy and reason, careful preparation and total chaos.”
Cherie Dimaline, a Canadian Métis author, is best known for her young adult fiction (she won the Kirkus Prize for young readers’ literature in 2017). In her adult novel, VenCo (Morrow, Feb. 7), 27-year-old Lucky St. James lives with her grandmother in Toronto—until they’re plunged into a hidden world of witches and magic that takes them to New Orleans in search of an otherworldly spoon.
Fans of Julie Otsuka’s The Swimmers will enjoy Western Lane, a debut novel from Chetna Maroo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 7). It tells the story of Gopi, an 11-year-old who becomes obsessed with the game of squash after her mother dies—and is very good at it. “Gopi’s retrospective narration accumulates slow layers of heartbreak,” according to our starred review. “A debut novel of immense poise and promise.”
In The Sun Walks Down (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 14), Fiona McFarlane creates a farming community in 1883 Australia and follows along as its residents search for a missing child over the course of a week. Our starred review says the book “offers intimate human drama, ruminations on the intersections of art and life, and a sweeping, still relevant view of race and class in Australia—and, by extension, the U.S.…A masterpiece of riveting storytelling.”
Rebecca Makkai follows up her 2018 National Book Award finalist, The Great Believers, with I Have Some Questions for You (Viking, Feb. 21), about a podcast producer who returns to her old boarding school to teach a short class, using the murder of one of her own classmates as material. “Well plotted, well written, and well designed to make its points,” according to our review.
Elizabeth McKenzie’s last book, The Portable Veblen (2016), had some passionate fans at Kirkus, and they’ve been looking forward to her new novel, The Dog of the North (Penguin Press, March 14). This picaresque tale follows Penny Rush from a California road trip with her grandmother’s accountant to a journey to Australia looking for her long-missing parents. “McKenzie has created a wonderful addition to the crew of damaged characters beloved by readers, so very endearing and real,” according to our starred review.
Eleanor Catton made Booker Prize history in two ways with her last novel, The Luminaries (2013)—she was the youngest winner, and her book was the longest. Now, a decade later, she returns with Birnam Wood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 7), about a group of activist gardeners in New Zealand who cross paths with an American billionaire. What could go wrong?
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s short story collection, Friday Black, was one of the most exciting debuts of 2018. His first novel, Chain-Gang All-Stars (Pantheon, April 4), imagines an all-too-plausible dystopian America where the prison system earns big bucks by having prisoners compete like gladiators for their freedom.
I spent most of the summer of 2020 sitting in my backyard, trying to avoid Covid and reading James McBride’s Deacon King Kong. In spite of the background hum, that was one of the most pleasurable reading experiences I’ve ever had. McBride returns with The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store (Riverhead, Aug. 8), moving from Red Hook, Brooklyn, to the Chicken Hill neighborhood of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in the 1970s, introducing the African Americans and immigrant Jews who live together there.
Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.