50 books we’re looking forward to in 2019 (Pt 3)


Coming our way laden with praise from Phillip Pullman (“almost an allegory, almost a dystopian-future warning, partly an elegant study of the nature of storytelling itself”) and Joshua Ferris (“A dystopian distillation of our troubled times, and an allegorical glimpse at a still-grimmer future”), John Lanchester’s latest novel, The Wall, concerns a man called Kavanagh, whose job it is to patrol the wall, enduring “cold and fear day after day, night after night…”

“When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away…” Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut My Sister the Serial Killer is “as smart and murderous as Killing Eve…” which is just about as much of a recommendation as we need…

Young love, the Iraqi conflict, the opioid epidemic, PTSD, bank robbers…Nico Walker’s debut Cherry ticks all of the boxes for what the once great American novel should be tackling in 2019. According to the press release, the book “marks the arrival of a raw, bleakly hilarious, and surprisingly poignant voice straight from the dark heart of America…” File alongside your Chuck Palahniuks and your Bret Easton Ellises apparently.

We probably don’t have to remind you about how much we liked Nora Krug’s Heimat, which concerned a young German woman living in New York attempting to come to terms with her country’s past. In May 2019, we get Sunday’s Child by Serena Kitt which tells the story of her grandfather who she knew as Opa, interrogating the version of events he liked to share with the world and asking: Did he really not know what the Nazis were doing?

1 September 1939 is “a book about a poet, about a poem, about a city, and about a world at a point of change. More than a work of literary criticism or literary biography, it is a record of why and how we create and respond to great poetry.” Sounds a bit dry, you might say – until you learn it’s by Ian Sansom whose book on Paper was a thrilling cornucopia of whizzy knowledge. We’ve been looking forward to this for as long as we’ve known about it (which given its presence on last year’s Books We’re Looking Forward to… list is quite some time!)

In The Merchants of Truth, Jill Abramson takes us behind the scenes of four media titans: Buzz Feed, VICE, The New York Times & The Washington Post, exposing – via “the deal-making tycoons, thrusting reporters and hard-bitten editors, the egomaniacs, bullshitters, provocateurs and bullies” – “the people and decisions that brought us to now.” According to Walter Isaacson, the book is “Filled with colourful inside stories, this book is essential for anyone who wants to understand today’s media and how it is affecting our society.”

Paul Morley’s latest, The Awfully Big Adventure, puts Michael Jackson – yes, Michael Jackson – under the microscope to see “how we turned the most outrageous child star talent of the late 20th century into a monster [and] how his decline soundtracked the end of Pop and the end of American Imperialism.” It’s a slim read, clocking in at just over 200 pages, but we are genuinely really interested to see what Morley has to add to the weight of Jackson debate.

Before Sunday’s Child (see above), there was Heimat, and before Heimat there was Nina Bunjavec’s Fatherland, a graphic novel we really enjoyed all the way back in 2014. Now Bunjavec is back with Bezimena, which takes the myth of Artemis and Siproites as a jumping off point and fashions a “gripping, noirish, Nabokovian tale, by turns surreal and harrowing, that turns the male gaze inside-out…” Another book we have high hopes for in 2019.

“Phoebe Siegler first meets Charles Heist in a shabby trailer on the eastern edge of Los Angeles. She’s looking for her friend’s missing daughter, Arabella, and hires Heist – a laconic loner who keeps his pet opossum in a desk drawer – to help. The unlikely pair navigate the enclaves of desert-dwelling vagabonds and find that Arabella is in serious trouble – caught in the middle of a violent standoff that only Heist, mysteriously, can end. Phoebe’s trip to the desert was always going to be strange, but it was never supposed to be dangerous…” Jonathan Lethem’s first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn, The Feral Detective is top 5 in the books we’re looking forward to…

Jess Kidd (of both The Hoarder and Himself fame) is also back with a detective novel, Things in Jars, which is set in London in 1863 and concerns Bridie Devine, “the finest female detective of her age”, who is tasked with finding Christabel Berwick, a child who is “not supposed to exist”. At this point, that’s a puzzle we’d like to hear more about…


In Part 4 of the Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2019 list you can look forward to books by such luminaries as Bret Easton Ellis, Kristen Roupenian, Roddy Doyle and Kerry Hudson…

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