Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021

228 Books We're Looking Forward to This Year


Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl

Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl, Atria (June 1)

Zakiya Dalila Harris’s The Other Black Girl is a brilliant, twisty, and highly relevant thriller inspired by the author’s own experiences in working in the still very white world of publishing. An editor at a prestigious publishing imprint is elated when she finally gets another Black colleague, but her happiness quickly turns to confusion and trepidation when her coworker seems more interested in competing with her than helping her. Things get weirder when Harris’s heroine notices how strangely comfortable her colleague is in the white world, and starts getting notes on her desk telling her to leave the company—before it’s too late. Perfect for fans of Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching, or Amina Akhtar’s #FashionVictim.  –MO


Kristen Arnett, With Teeth

Kristen Arnett, With Teeth, Riverhead (June 1)

Kristen Arnett is my favorite person on Twitter. On December 14th, she tweeted: “hear me out: pringles can but it’s full of hamsters.” What? Reader, I lost it. She’s hilarious. She brands herself as the internet’s 7/11-loving, dog-owning boat dad. If you share her specific and weird brand of humor (and if you read and loved her first novel, Mostly Dead Things), then you will surely enjoy With Teeth. It’s about a woman who’s afraid of her son, uneasy about motherhood, and envious of her wife. Funny? Heartbreaking? This could really go either way, and knowing Kristen Arnett, it’ll be a little bit of both in a surprising and delightful way.  –KY


Benjamin Percy, The Ninth Metal

Benjamin Percy, The Ninth Metal, Houghton Mifflin (June 1) 

A comet’s debris crashes into northern Minnesota, destroying much but also leaving behind a priceless asset: a ninth metal called omnimetal, with energy-renewing potential that could reroute humanity from destroying the planet for a tad longer. So begins a modern gold rush, full of greedy bad guys, shady business deals, and families torn apart—including the Frontiers and their prodigal son, John, who’s returned home at either the best or worst time.  –ES


Marissa Levien, The World Gives Way

Marissa Levien, The World Gives Way, Redhook (June 1)

It’s hard not to feel parallels between our world—a floating rock protected by an atmosphere we can’t stop punching holes into—and the world of Levien’s debut novel: a ship the size of Switzerland on a 300-year trip to a new inhabitable planet, protected by a hull . . . that now has a hole in it. But in this book, it’s only Myrra, a contract worker on the run, knows the fate that’s about to befall everyone she’s ever known, including Tobias, a rookie security officer tasked with bringing her to justice, and Charlotte, the baby she may or may not have kidnapped. A charming novel about the end of the world (the ship).  –ET


Ashley C. Ford, Somebody’s Daughter

Ashley C. Ford, Somebody’s Daughter, Flatiron (June 1)

In addition to her own hosting roles (see The Chronicles of Now and Lovecraft Country Radio), Ashley Ford consistently shows up as a guest in my podcast queue, which is the only reason I need to stop whatever I’m doing and listen. Wise and insightful, she writes in her memoir about growing up with her father’s absence and the mystery of his incarceration—until that reason is revealed, and has profound implications for her life and relationship with him. Expect to see Somebody’s Daughter make waves this year.  –ES


Rivka Galchen, Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch

Rivka Galchen, Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch, FSG (June 8)

You should know that I’m not impartial; I just love Rivka Galchen. Loved Atmospheric Disturbances, her celebrated 2008 debut on psychic fracture and marital devotion whose nails were bitten to the quick from both the suspense of its plot and the neuroses of its narrative voice. Loved American Innovations, her 2015 collection of some of the most ingenious stories written by anyone anywhere in the past ten years. LOVED (and needed) Little Labors, her 2016 miscellany of sketches and lists and stories all on the theme of babies and literature. And will love, I am sure, her return to the novel form in Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch, a mini epic of forever war and plague and societal fracture in 17th-century Germany that also has lots to say about… well, unfortunately, you know.  –EF


Lisa Taddeo, Animal

Lisa Taddeo, Animal, Avid Reader Press (June 8)

Taddeo, who made a big splash with her formally daring work of literary reportage about women and sex, Three Women, follows that up with a debut novel depicting “female rage at its rawest.” Billed as “a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society,” Animal tells the story of Joan, who flees a horrific act of violence in New York City to find solace with an old friend on the west coast, from where she might finally find the resolve to strike back.  –JD


Akwaeke Emezi, Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, Riverhead (June 8)

Video artist and author Akwaeke Emezi burst onto the literary scene in 2018 when their autobiographical debut novel Freshwater became one of the most talked about and critically-acclaimed books of that year. In the short period since, they have published two more novels (Pet, a National Book Award finalist, and The Death of Vivek Oji, a New York Times bestseller) and garnered a slew of major award nominations. Their latest work—an intimate and harrowing memoir of transformation, built from correspondences with lovers, friends, and family—promises to be another spellbinding addition to their already-remarkable body of work.  –DS


Jonathan Lee, The Great Mistake

Jonathan Lee, The Great Mistake, Knopf (June 15)

From the author of High Dive comes another rich and riveting work of character-driven historical fiction. The Great Mistake opens with the 1903 assassination of famed city planner Andrew Haswell Green, the man responsible for Central Park, the NYPL, and the MET. From there, Lee takes us back though the life of this complex, conflicted, deep-feeling man as he rises from the humblest of beginning to become “the Father of Greater New York,” all the while haunted by a longing he can never truly express. A triumph of humane historical portraiture, and one of the finest and most pleasurable New York novels I have ever read.  –DS


Eleanor Henderson, Everything I Have Is Yours

Eleanor Henderson, Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage, Flatiron (June 15)

The first memoir from the author of Ten Thousand Saints and The Twelve-Mile Straight unravels twenty years in a marriage shaped by her husband’s chronic, baffling illness. I’m always interested in reading more from Henderson, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this one.  –ET


Lydia Davis, Essays Two

Lydia Davis, Essays Two, FSG (June 15)

Lydia Davis is one of my favorite living writers, the literary embodiment of mercurial curiosity and earned erudition, two of my favorite qualities in a human. This essay collection, focused on the complexities of translation and the delights of language, is an early candidate for best 2021 palate-cleanser of the Horrible, Terrible Plague Year that preceded it.  –JD


Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, The Cult of We

Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion, Crown (June 15) 

The story of WeWork is one of extremes, from the ambitious founder who promised to remake urban office space as we know it to the dramatic disintegration of the company and its mission. For WeWork devotees and skeptics alike, this will be a compelling read; the excesses of startup founder culture are well-documented, but WeWork’s Adam Neumann is an especially demonstrative case of the failures of a system that predominantly rewards charismatic men whose bombastic promises usually prove false.  –CS


Kelsey McKinney, God Spare the Girls

Kelsey McKinney, God Spare the Girls, William Morrow (June 22)

In this debut novel, two daughters of an evangelical megachurch pastor discover that their father has been having an affair—and all you-know-what breaks loose. McKinney is a reporter and a co-owner of Defector, and is very funny on Twitter, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading her longform fiction.  –ET


Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals

Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals, Riverhead (June 22)

From the Man Booker finalist (and frequent contributor to this website) comes this debut collection of linked short stories, about young adults entangled in their own complex (and oftentimes competing) desires, repulsions, and attachments. There is a young man who grapples with loneliness, a young woman who is battling cancer, a babysitter on the brink of an emotional break, and couples who struggle to make things work. Roxane Gay praised Taylor as “a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways.” And this collection offers us contexts to think about how fraught longing is, how painful it can be, and why we still yearn for it.  –RS


Clare Sestanovich, Objects of Desire

Clare Sestanovich, Objects of Desire, Knopf (June 29)

Leslie Jamison described the characters in this debut collection from an editor at The New Yorker—where you may remember reading this very good story last year—as being “observed with wry, prism-gazed tenderness; sketched deftly and persuasively with just a few perfect strokes. The details go off like bombs. These stories know strange, important truths about what it feels like to be alive.” Considering I’m in the market for a new favorite realist short story writer (what, sometimes I just have these kinds of thoughts), I’m very excited to give this a try.  –ET

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