There’s no need to temper your expectations about 2022, at least in terms of reading selection. The year ahead promises new releases by big-name authors—Jennifer Egan, Elena Ferrante, Marlon James, Hanya Yanagihara—and debut novels by writers poised to become fan favorites, such as Jean Chen Ho and Xochitl Gonzalez. If you’re more of a memoir person, look forward to revealing and insightful reflections from Prince Harry, the late Paul Newman and Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo. Here, the 22 most anticipated books of 2022.
Olga Dies Dreaming, Xochitl Gonzalez (Jan. 4)
Xochitl Gonzalez delivers a healthy dose of tough love with her buzzy debut Olga Dies Dreaming. The novel dives into the complex family dynamics of Olga and Prieto Acevedo, siblings taking New York City by storm. Prieto is a rising star in the local politics scene and Olga is a wedding planner to the city’s elite, but their lives are turned upside down once their mother Blanca, a radical activist for Puerto Rico’s independence who left them as children, returns to the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood where they grew up. With Blanca back in town, Olga and Prieto must revisit their family’s past in order to forge a new path for their future.
Fiona and Jane, Jean Chen Ho (Jan. 4)
The complex depth of female friendship provides endless fodder for Jean Chen Ho in her debut novel, Fiona and Jane. Centering on nearly two decades of best friendship between the two titular Taiwanese American women, the novel reads like a love letter to the beauty and intensity of their relationship. Bonded by their shared experience of coming of age in Los Angeles in immigrant families, Fiona and Jane’s friendship is challenged over the years by distance, romantic relationships and betrayal. But throughout it all, they are constants in each other’s lives—reminders for one another of who they once were and all that they can be.
To Paradise, Hanya Yanagihara (Jan. 11)
Hanya Yanagihara follows her celebrated 2015 novel, A Little Life, with To Paradise, a deeply vulnerable exploration of love and loss. Tracing three fantastical, heartbreaking narratives across distinct timelines, the novel follows the lives of multiple characters who, despite being separated by centuries, find connection through the shared space of a townhouse on the edge of Washington Square Park in New York City. Yanagihara ties their lives together through recurring themes of illness and death, privilege and poverty, affection and desire, and their ever-dogged pursuit of utopia in a country that is anything but.
Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, Bernardine Evaristo (Jan. 18)
Bernardine Evaristo makes a dazzling nonfiction debut with her memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, a triumphant meditation on her life as a writer, a Black woman and an activist. In taking stock of her experiences, Evaristo—who became the first Black woman to win the Booker prize with her 2019 novel Girl, Woman, Other—not only provides a compelling look at her life and career, but also provides valuable insights into the intersections of race, gender and identity in our world.
South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, Imani Perry (Jan. 25)
Imani Perry, professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, returned to her hometown in Alabama seeking to challenge what we think we know about the South. In South to America, Perry shows readers that there is no one archetype of the American South, as she considers everything from immigrant communities to the legacy of slavery to her own ancestral roots. As she encounters new places and new people, Perry argues that in order to understand American identity, we must take a look below the Mason Dixon line.
Moon Witch, Spider King, Marlon James (Feb. 15)
Marlon James opened his Dark Star trilogy in 2019 with Black Leopard, Red Wolf, a National Book Award finalist that’s set to be adapted for film by Michael B. Jordan. In the much-anticipated second installment, Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon the Moon Witch—who’s 177 years old—provides her own perspective on the events of the first book, retelling the adventure tale from a separate point of view. James has crafted yet another dark fantasy that blends history and mythology in an epic setting.
When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East, Quan Barry (Feb. 22)
Quan Barry’s most recent novel, We Ride Upon Sticks, centered on a field hockey team that dabbled in witchcraft—an imaginative story with few contemporary comparisons. When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East again demonstrates Barry’s flair for examining the metaphysical and transporting readers to far-away places. It’s about estranged twin brothers in Mongolia who set out on a journey to find the reincarnation of an important spiritual leader. One of the brothers is a novice Buddhist monk, the other has renounced his religion, and their relationship and faith are inevitably tested during their travels.
In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing, Elena Ferrante (March 15)
Though the true identity of Elena Ferrante remains unconfirmed, curious fans can at least get a candid look inside her writing process thanks to In the Margins, a collection of razor-sharp essays that detail her journey to becoming the internationally renowned author she is today. On topics from her early love of reading and entry into writing to the trials and tribulations of handling language, the essays are a candid look into Ferrante’s development of not only her craft, but also her life-long passion for literature. The most poignant of the pieces deals with the complex legacy of women writers, a topic that Ferrante no doubt knows intimately.
Buy Now: In the Margins on Amazon
Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation, Maud Newton (March 29)
Maud Newton delves deep into her family’s unconventional—and at times, shocking—past in her debut book, Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation. Newton has long been fascinated by her family’s colorful, almost folkloric history; she had a grandfather who was shot by one of his 13 wives and a female ancestor who was accused of being a witch in puritanical New England. But a closer look at her family tree prompted Newton to reckon with darker secrets, like her family’s role in slavery and native genocide. In grappling with her history, Newton explores intergenerational trauma, genetics and epigenetics, considering all the ways in which getting to know our ancestors can help us gain perspective on ourselves.
The Trayvon Generation, Elizabeth Alexander (April 5)
In an expansion of her 2020 New Yorker essay, author and poet Elizabeth Alexander, a Pulitzer finalist, examines the experiences of the generation of Black kids in America who were born after Trayvon Martin was killed—a generation that has grown up in the glare of racial trauma. With a mother’s eye, Alexander provides her perspective on this current moment in U.S. history, analyzing the past and looking forward to how we can work toward a more hopeful, safer future.
The Candy House, Jennifer Egan (April 5)
More than a decade after winning a Pulitzer Prize for A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan delivers its highly anticipated sibling novel. The Candy House, which follows many of Goon’s characters into their futures and pasts, transcends worlds and dimensions while examining what happens when our memories become available for others’ consumption. It’s a complex, compelling read that showcases Egan’s masterful storytelling.
Buy Now: The Candy House on Amazon
Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel (April 5)
Over the past year or so, while readers around the world have rediscovered Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel about a swine flu pandemic, the author herself passed the time writing her sixth book. After crossing the Atlantic into exile, Edwin St. Andrews finds himself in a forest on Vancouver Island in 1912, where the notes of a violin playing from an airship terminal send a shock to his system. Two centuries later, writer Olive Llewellyn, far from her home on one of the moon’s colonies, is traveling across earth on a book tour for her novel—which contains a striking passage about a man playing a violin on an airship terminal, surrounded by forest. Their stories are brought together by a detective investigating the North American wilderness. Sea of Tranquility explores parallel worlds in a resonant tale of art, time travel and, yes, plague.
Young Mungo, Douglas Stuart (April 5)
Douglas Stuart follows his Booker Prize-winning novel, Shuggie Bain, with the revelatory Young Mungo, a queer love story set in a working-class community in Scotland. The novel centers on a first romance between Mungo and James, young men from different religious backgrounds who must hide their relationship from their families and their community. In their world, hard-edged masculinity reigns supreme, especially for Mungo, whose brother is the leader of a local gang. Parsing the complexities of love—between romantic partners, friends and especially family—Young Mungo bears witness to the fight to protect it against all odds.
Time Is a Mother, Ocean Vuong (April 5)
Ocean Vuong, a 2019 MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, plumbs the depths of loss in his tender and heartbreaking second volume of poetry, Time Is a Mother. Written after the death of Vuong’s mother, this collection of poems thoughtfully considers grief, both as an emotion and a sacred act, revisiting the history he shared with his mother and the understanding of family they forged together. Delving back into the visceral themes that made his 2019 novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous a revelation, Vuong traverses the intensely personal and the broadly political with grace and courage.
Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life, Delia Ephron (April 12)
At 72, best-selling novelist and You’ve Got Mail screenwriter Delia Ephron had given up on the thought of her own happy ending. After the heartbreaking losses of both her sister and later her husband to cancer, she channeled her grief into a New York Times op-ed. When it was published, she received an email from Peter, a man living in the Bay Area in California, who was also grieving the loss of his spouse—and had dated Ephron more than 50 years ago. Ephron let herself fall, first over email and then in person as Peter flew to visit her. But four months later, her own diagnosis of an aggressive form of leukemia plunged their relationship into uncertainty. Ephron’s memoir is a heart-wrenching tale of second chances at life and love.
Either/Or, Elif Batuman (May 24)
In 2018, Elif Batuman’s witty campus novel, The Idiot, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. It introduced readers to Selin, a Harvard freshman who is the daughter of Turkish immigrants, as she embarks on an intoxicating quest for love that goes awry. Now, Batuman returns with a sequel, Either/Or, that picks up during Selin’s just-as-messy sophomore year. Expect a master course in snappy social observation.
Rainbow Rainbow, Lydia Conklin (May 31)
In this collection of stories, Lydia Conklin—whose work has appeared in such outlets as Tin House and The Paris Review—highlights queer, gender-nonconforming and trans characters. Most are seeking some sense of connection: there’s a young lesbian who tries to have a baby using an unscrupulous sperm donor, and a nonbinary person who tests an open relationship during the pandemic. Conklin portrays them all with warmth and compassion.
Tracy Flick Can’t Win, Tom Perrotta (June 7)
In his 1998 novel Election, adapted into a celebrated film starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Perrotta introduced readers to Tracy Flick, a high school student determined to win student body president. Nearly 25 years later, Perrotta returns to Tracy, now a high school assistant principal who is finally up for a promotion. Determined to show her worth, Tracy agrees to help choose students to induct into Green Meadow High School’s new Hall of Fame. But as her male colleagues insist on honoring Vito Falcone, a former star-quarterback with an unremarkable NFL career, Tracy is forced into an unwelcome trip down memory lane, re-examining how sexism and male power have continued to impact her own experiences.
The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays, CJ Hauser (July 12)
Ten days after calling off her wedding, writer CJ Hauser traveled to Texas to research whooping cranes and realized that she almost committed to a life that wasn’t meant for her. The story of that experience, first published in The Paris Review in 2019, instantly went viral. Now, in her first work of nonfiction, Hauser returns to The Crane Wife and offers 17 additional essays, weaving together a memoir about redefining love and living life outside of traditional boundaries.
Untitled Prince Harry memoir (TBA)
A little over a year after stepping back from his role as a senior member of the royal family, Prince Harry announced his plan to write a memoir and share, for the first time, the life experiences that shaped him. Few details about the book have been confirmed, but it’s already gaining buzz for its rumored criticisms of the royals. Described by Harry as “accurate and wholly truthful,” the firsthand account promises to cover everything from his childhood in the public eye to his experiences as a father, and is set to be released sometime late 2022.
Untitled Paul Newman memoir (TBA)
Perturbed by unauthorized biographies and public examinations of his life, the late actor Paul Newman began recording his own oral history in the 1980s. Fourteen years after his death, his family has decided to turn the recordings into a memoir. Compiled from transcripts found in the basement of his Connecticut home, the currently untitled memoir will include Newman’s reflections on his boyhood, his rise to Hollywood stardom and his thoughts on fame and love.
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