50 Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2021 (Pt 1)

  1. For those of us who lapped up his debut short story collection, Lot, the news of Memorial, a debut novel by Bryan Washington is pretty damn exciting. And despite hitting our shores in early Jan, it’s already been snapped up by the hottest of production houses, A24 (the people behind The Lighthouse and Midsommer and Waves and The Last Black Man in San Francisco, among others) making this the very definition of a hot product.
  2. And speaking of writers who debuted with a terrific short story collection and are choosing to follow that in 2021 with their debut novel, The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin. You’ll remember that we loved McLaughlin’s debut, Dinosaurs on Other Planets, and her first novel promises to be a “sharp, entertaining examination of the nature of art and its power to inspire and corrupt” (according to Roddy Doyle and who are we to doubt Roddy?).
  3. Max Porter – he of Grief is the Thing with Feathers and Lanny is back with a slim volume, The Death of Francis Bacon in which he “translates into seven extraordinary written pictures the explosive final workings of the artist’s mind.” At this point, we’re right to expect fireworks, aren’t we?
  4. With both Irvine Welsh and Alan Warner providing advance praise for her latest, Luckenbooth, Jenni Fagan starts the year off with a bang, with a novel that features an infamous madam, a spy, a famous Beat poet, a coal miner who fears daylight, a psychic, a terrible curse and an enraged spirit, amongst other things. We’ve got high hopes for this.
  5. And speaking of high hopes – Steven Hall is back. That’s right. Steven Hall of Raw Shark Texts fame. Maxwell’s Demon is “a freewheeling investigation into the magic power locked inside the alphabet, love through the looking glass, the bond between parents and children, and, at its heart, the quest for meaning in a chaotic and untidy world.”
  6. If nonfiction is more your beverage of choice, Samira Shackles’ Karachi Vice might be worth a peek: it’s a fast-paced journey around Karachi in the company of those who know the city inside out, where lavish wealth and absolute poverty live side by side, and where the lines between idealism and corruption can quickly blur…
  7. For those of us who look forward to books a lot, Paul Kingsworth’s Alexandria was among the big setbacks of 2020 (it got delayed because of… you know what) – but we’ll finally be getting our hands on the third instalment of the Buccmaster trilogy which, perhaps unsurprisingly, given what we know of the first two books, is set on the far side of an ecological apocalypse. Colour us very excited about this one.
  8. Did you know in Tudor times all the brothels were south of the river in Southwark and it was only much later that they moved up this way to Soho. Stews, they were called then.’ Sometimes all you need is a sentence to make you think, I’ll be reading that one. Elmet author Fiona Mozeley’s latest, Hot Stew is a case in point. You can look forward to “an insightful and ambitious novel about property, ownership, wealth and inheritance.”
  9. Did we say we were looking forward to the third instalment of the Buccmaster trilogy in 2021? We’re also looking forward to the third instalment of David Peace’s Tokyo trilogy. We’ll be re-reading Tokyo Year Zero and Occupied City between now and May so that we are good to go when Tokyo Redux finally lands.
  10. “A sensual meditation on the nature of love and addiction, this dazzling and incisive novel satirises postcolonial society and celebrates oddness” – that’s quite literally all we need (we’re always up for a celebration of oddness) to have our interest piqued in This One Sky Day by Leone Ross, which will be published by Faber in April 2021.

Don’t forget to check out part 2 of our Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2021, coming your way tomorrow, and featuring Gwendoline Riley, Kazuo Ishiguro, Harry Sword and Alison Bechdel, amongst others!

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