• Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024

    230 Books We’re Looking Forward to Reading This Year

    MAY

    Kailane Bradley, The Ministry of Time

    Kailane Bradley, The Ministry of Time
    Avid Reader Press, May 7

    This much-hyped genre-bending (time travel/romance/spy thriller/workplace comedy) debut—in which a civil servant of the future is tasked with babysitting a 19th century explorer, and of course falls in love with him—sounds like a hell of a lot of fun. Also, not for nothing, but this book has blurbs from writers as disparate as Eleanor Catton, Emily Henry, and Max Porter, which is intriguing on its own. Will be reading. –ET

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Bite By Bite

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Bite By Bite
    Ecco, May 7

    Lyrical essays about food? I’ll have seconds. In Bite by Bite, Aimee Nezhukumatathil looks at how food shapes our identities, focusing on minor miracles like rambutan, shaved ice and who knows what other delights. Nezhukumatathil is a professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, and this looks like just the thing for Vittles fans. –JM

    Lilly Dancyger first love

    Lilly Dancyger, First Love: Essays on Friendship
    Dial Press, May 7

    Any work that treats friendship as a weighty and valued thing, rather than second fiddle to romantic relationships, will always be on my TBR pile. The concept of this new book reminds me of the beautiful Atlantic article on best friendship from 2020 that felt revelatory and radical in its centering of female friendships over any other kind of relationship. Lilly Dancyger gives the proper due to each of her primary female friendships, each essay dissecting a certain friendship, as well as braiding in literary and cultural analysis. Every book and article like this shows me that we’re on a path to understanding friendship in a new light, and I know I’m only grateful to witness the carving of that path, thanks to people like Lilly Dancyger. –JH

    Lindsay King-Miller, The Z Word

    Lindsay King-Miller, The Z Word
    Quirk Books, May 7

    “The first Pride was a riot, the last Pride is a bloodbath” goes the cover quote and King-Miller’s debut is going to be kick-ass. It’s about a chaotic bisexual and her group of friends/lovers/frenemies from the queer scene in an Arizona town struggling to save Pride and stop a zombie plague from breaking out—heartfelt, heart-warming, and heart-eating. –DB

    Colm Tóibín, Long Island

    Colm Tóibín, Long Island
    Scribner, May 7 

    Colm Tóibín, inarguably one of Ireland’s greatest living writers, has penned plenty of successful novels, but none have had a greater cultural impact 2009’s Brooklyn, which was nominated for a clutch of top tier literary awards before being adapted into a Major Motion Picture starring Ireland’s favorite daughter, Saoirse Ronan. Fifteen years on from our first introduction to Eilis Lacey, we’re now getting a sequel, set in the Spring of 1976 on the titular island where a now-fortysomething Eilis lives with Tony and their two teenage children. One day, while Tony is out at work, a mysterious Irishman comes to the door to tell Eilis that his wife is pregnant with Tony’s baby, and that he (the mysterious Irishman) intends to leave the child on Eilis’ doorstep as soon as it’s born. –DS

    Dino Buzzati, trans. Anne Milano Appel, The Singularity

    Dino Buzzati, trans. Anne Milano Appel, The Singularity
    NYRB Classics, May 7

    A new translation of this seminal work of Italian science fiction, about a Cold War-era professor sent on a secret mission to an isolated research center where he assumes he’ll be working on nuclear weapons, but discovers instead that he and his colleagues are working on the very nature of consciousness. Another classic work predicting the dangers of artificial intelligence and human hubris? They never stop being timely! –DB

    Claire Messud, This Strange Eventful History

    Claire Messud, This Strange Eventful History
    W.W. Norton, May 14

    There are few genres more enjoyable than the sprawling, decade-spanning family saga (especially in the hands of a brilliant novelist). Claire Messud’s latest novel tells the story of an Algerian-born French family from 1940 through 2010 as they navigate personal and political upheaval. Yiyun Li calls it “a tour de force… one of those rare novels which a reader doesn’t merely read but lives through with the characters.” Sold. –JG

    Kathleen Hanna, Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk

    Kathleen Hanna, Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk
    Ecco, May 14

    Kathleen! Hanna! Memoir! Get ready for the story of the 90s punk rock scene told through the badass Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman, the heart of the Riot Grrrl movement, which she documents in an “uncut voice all her own…Hanna reveals the hardest times along with the most joyful—and how they continue to fuel her revolutionary art and music.” –EF

    Miranda July, All Fours

    Miranda July, All Fours
    Riverhead, May 14

    This is a gut-punch of a novel, a must-read for every woman nearing or over forty, confronting the malaise of midlife, fertility, marriage, and menopause, packaged in July’s delirious style. The publisher judiciously describes “July’s wry voice, perfect comic timing, unabashed curiosity about human intimacy, and palpable delight in pushing boundaries…” and calls All Fours “one woman’s quest for a new kind of freedom.” But it’s also an absolute excavation of what it means to be a woman in the world. –EF

    Hari Kunzru, Blue Ruin

    Hari Kunzru, Blue Ruin
    Knopf, May 14

    A covid-era novel about Jay, once-promising artist-turned-gig worker living out of his car invites his ex-girlfriend’s invitation to isolate with her, her boyfriend (and Jay’s former friend) along with an erratic gallery owner and his girlfriend, Kunzru’s novel promises to be harrowing and darkly funny. Kunzru has a knack for the nightmarish present, and few things feel more nightmarish than a forced confrontation with the past in the early stages of the pandemic. –JG

    Kimberly King Parsons, We Were the Universe

    Kimberly King Parsons, We Were the Universe
    Knopf, May 14

    In Kimberly King Parsons’s much anticipated follow-up to her 2019 story collection Black Light (longlisted for a National Book Award), a young mother, Kit, navigates life in the aftermath of youthful expectation, finding herself caught in increasingly vivid reminiscences of past glories. But after an attempted adventure with an old friend misfires, Kit’s flights of imagination cross the line from nostalgia to projection, and it becomes harder and harder to distinguish what was, what is, and what might be. –JD

    Honor Levy, My First Book

    Honor Levy, My First Book
    Penguin Press, May 14

    The bluntness of this title feels like an apt entry for Honor Levy into the mainstream publishing scene: she’s one of those writers I’ve been hearing about for years, reading her various essays and stories, and in my mind, she will always be 24. She’s been touted as the “voice of Gen Z” for some years now, and managed to make a name for herself before she even has a book out. Someone who can do such a thing is always one to watch, and the anticipation has been growing for Levy’s “First Book” for a long time. Finally, her collection of short stories about growing up in the digital age will be released in May: they promise to be ironic and poignant and funny and faith-seeking in a collapsing world. –JH

    K-Ming Chang, Cecilia

    K-Ming Chang, Cecilia
    Coffee House Press, May 21

    If you’re not reading K-Ming Chang, then what are you reading? Chang should be on everyone’s auto-read list. Plus, Cecilia is a novella. That’s the best type of book. This novella follows two adult women meeting for the first time since childhood. Their interaction sparks a surreal cascade of girlhood memories about desire, queerness, and obsession. Cecilia is at once erotic and repulsive, carnal and tasty. In a word: delicious. –MC 

    Mesha Maren, Shae

    Mesha Maren, Shae
    Algonquin Books, May 21

    In the latest novel rom the author of Sugar Run, sixteen-year-old Shae falls in love with Cam, a newcomer to her West Virginia town—but after Shae winds up pregnant, Cam begins transitioning, and once the baby is born, Shae begins to depend on the opioids that once helped manage her pain. “Maren brilliantly gives voice to a New South, introducing us to two unforgettable characters whose journeys echo the struggles of queer people across the country,” wrote Garrard Conley. “This book is essential for the new queer canon emerging from Southern writers.” –ET

    R.O. Kwon, Exhibit

    R.O. Kwon, Exhibit
    Riverhead, May 21 

    This sophomore novel from the blazingly talented Kwon (The Incendiaries) sounds absolutely fascinating. Billed as “a haunting and powerful exploration of art, racism, feminism, and desire” (Madeline Miller), Exhibit is the story of a brilliant young San Francisco photographer, at a crossroads in both her work and marriage, who meets, and becomes entangled with, an injured world-class ballerina, to whom she reveals a long-buried family curse. –DS

    Anna Dorn, Perfume and Pain

    Anna Dorn, Perfume and Pain
    Simon & Schuster, May 21

    I actually don’t think I can do Dorn justice describing the book without just using the promotional copy here—talk about character-writing: “mid-list author Astrid Dahl finds herself back in the Zoom writer’s group she cofounded, Sapphic Scribes, after an incident that leaves her and her career lightly canceled,” starts dating Ivy, who is a student researching 1950s pulp lesbian novels, but at the same time Astrid feels a strange attraction to Penelope, a “painter living off Urban Outfitters settlement money.” Must know what Dorn is up to here. –JM

    Joyce Carol Oates, Butcher

    Joyce Carol Oates, Butcher
    Knopf, May 21

    If you guessed that the title referred to the “father of gyno-psychiatry,” Dr. Silas Weir, you’d be right. Here, JCo takes this very real nightmare of a person and knits together a story about a young Irish servant who becomes Weir’s “subject,” but also the object of his downfall (huzzah!). Sounds like the perfect American novel, delving deep into the horrors of invention. –JM

    Kevin Kwan, Lies and Weddings

    Kevin Kwan, Lies and Weddings
    Doubleday, May 21

    Herein, a comedy of manners on a tropical island, concerned with one man’s quest to find a rich woman to marry. The man is Rufus Leung Gresham, future Earl of Greshambury and son of a former Hong Kong supermodel. The women? A French hotel heiress with a royal bloodline and a girl-next-door with no money to speak of (but all that chemistry). It’s Kevin Kwan so you know it will be entertaining. –JM

    Teddy Wayne, The Winner

    Teddy Wayne, The Winner
    Harper, May 28

    No one writes male characters (and their flaws) like Teddy Wayne, and this thriller about the Cape Cod elite looks like a promising addition to his oeuvre. Conor O’Toole, working-class man, has free summer accommodation at a gated community in return for tennis lessons, but finds his debt is mounting. When a divorcée offers him an especially LARGE fee, he volleys himself into a steamy affair, despite crushing on an artsy girl from the beach, finding himself trapped in a web of his own lies. Since Wayne is scathing in his satire, we must brace ourselves for a dagger late in the novel, which happens to resemble the plot of Aspen Extreme (a tick in its box). –JM

    Emma Copley Eisenberg, Housemates

    Emma Copley Eisenberg, Housemates
    Hogarth, May 28

    Bernie, an aspiring photographer, and Leah, an aspiring writer, become friends through a housemate-wanted ad. Eisenberg sets them off on a road trip in search of a strange inheritance Leah receives from a professor. Bernie is along for the ride to document the characters out on the road, and it is, per a blurb from our resident advice columnist Kristen Arnett, a “wholly, queerly complex” story. –JM

    Noé Álvarez, Accordion Eulogies: A Memoir of Music, Migration, and Mexico

    Noé Álvarez, Accordion Eulogies: A Memoir of Music, Migration, and Mexico
    Catapult, May 28

    Migration can be in the near past without your knowing exactly the path your family took. For Noé Álvarez, a Mexican-descendent American who grew up in a notch of Washington State’s Cascades, the only thing he knows about his grandfather in Mexico is that he played the accordion. The rest has been lost, possibly due to a curse. So he starts where he can: Noé takes up the accordion, traveling across the continent to meet other players and understand its significance. –JM

    Garth Risk Hallberg, The Second Coming

    Garth Risk Hallberg, The Second Coming
    Knopf, May 28

    Nine years on from the publishing event that was City on Fire comes another family epic, this time about a recovering addict ex-con and his estranged daughter across the US and the decades at the turn of the recent millennium. Expect a sprawling cast and another Dickensian attempt to put the entirety of the human experience onto the page, with stirring results. –DB






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