66 Books Coming In 2019 That You'll Want To Keep On Your Radar

We tried to keep it short. (Presented in no particular order.)


1. Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

Bowlaway revolves around the eccentric Bertha Truitt and the New England bowling alley she owns. It’s a Dickensian saga spanning the 20th century, it’s full of whimsy (Bertha opens the bowling alley after being found unconscious in a cemetery with nothing on her but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and 15 pounds of gold), and it’s a heartfelt portrait of human relationships and entanglements.

Pub date: Feb. 5

2. Sugar Run by Mesha Maren

When 35-year-old Jodi McCarty is released after 18 years in prison, she sets off to find someone from her past — someone she promised she’d rescue a long time ago. Along the way, she meets and falls in love with a single mother who’s running from her own demons, kids in tow. Together the mismatched group head toward the abandoned West Virginia farm that once belonged to Jodi’s grandmother, hoping maybe they can turn it into a home.

Pub date: Jan. 8

3. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People, already longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, follows the relationship between Connell and Marianne — the former a popular football star, the latter more of an introvert — as they weave in and out of each other’s lives through high school and then university, at Trinity College in Dublin. As the pair discover new desires and temptations, they redraw the boundaries of their identities and navigate intimacy as new adults.

Pub date: April 16

4. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the genre-bending first installment in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, and it is fertile ground — rich in mythology and full of vibrant characters. Black Leopard focuses specifically on the mercenary called Tracker, who travels across a fantastical Africa in search of a kidnapped boy, encountering strangers who warn of shapeshifters, necromancers, and witches along the way. But who is this boy everyone is looking for — and why is he so important?

Pub date: Feb. 5

5. We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

In We Cast a Shadow, Maurice Carlos Ruffin presents a biting satire of anti-blackness in the US, imagining a near-future South so plagued by violent racism and oppression that many black residents are turning to Dr. Nzinga for a “complete demelanization.” When a father sees his biracial son seemingly getting darker every day, he considers the procedure, worried for Nigel’s fate — but there’s such a fine line between protection and harm.

Pub date: Jan. 29

6. Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Between 2005 and 2009, in a small Mennonite community in Bolivia, more than 100 girls and women were drugged and assaulted by men in the colony — who then told the women these were the acts of demons. Miriam Toews’ sharp and devastating novel imagines the aftermath: While the men leave to post bail for their attackers, eight women gather secretly to decide their next steps. What follows is a two-day long discussion about justice, forgiveness, faith, and anger — and, through the discussion, a testament to the power of women’s collective voices.

Pub date: April 2

7. An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

When young poultry farmer Chinonso sees a woman ready to jump off a highway bridge, he convinces her to step away and the two fall in love. But their love is doomed — Ndali’s wealthy family disapproves of Chinonso’s lack of education, but when he sells all he owns for a spot at a university in Cyprus, he arrives only to find it was a scam. Penniless and disillusioned, he must find a way to return to his love and his farm; this saga is a twist on The Odyssey — narrated by a guardian spirit, traversing earth and space, but grounded in the universal themes of love, ambition, and loss.

Pub date: Jan. 8

8. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Oyeyemi’s latest beguiling novel tells the story of Harriet and Perdita Lee, an oddball mother-daughter duo who live in London and make delicious gingerbread — a family recipe supposedly quite popular in Harriet’s (possibly fantastical?) homeland of Druhástrana. As daughter Perdita grows older and more curious about her mother’s mysterious upbringing, she digs into the past and ferrets out a thorny family legacy.

Pub date: March 5

9. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is written as a letter from Little Dog, a man in his late twenties, to his mother, who can’t read. The evocative letter unravels into their family’s past, beginning in Vietnam before Little Dog’s birth and continuing into the US. Through this history, the son is able to welcome his mother into parts of his life he’s never shared, contemplating issues of race, class, masculinity, and trauma.

Pub date: June 4

10. Lot by Bryan Washington

Bryan Washington’s debut short story collection is an ode to Houston, Texas, and a vibrant portrait of the myriad people who call it home. There’s the young boy figuring out his sexual identity while holding down a job at his family restaurant; around him, a city of creators, survivors, and hustlers. Throughout is Washington’s effervescent prose, exploring family, community, and love.

Pub date: March 19

11. The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

When Driss Guerraoui is hit by a speeding car, the effects of his death are surprising and widespread. In linked narratives from alternating perspectives — Nora, Guerraoui’s estranged daughter; his widow, Maryam, who misses their home country Morocco; Efrain, an undocumented immigrant who saw the accident but is too afraid to come forward; Jeremy, a veteran of the Iraq War; Coleman, a detective learning secrets about her own family; and of course Driss himself — Lalami explores the bonds that connect people otherwise divided by race, religion, and class.

Pub date: March 26

12. Biloxi by Mary Miller

In Biloxi, Mississippi, newly retired 63-year-old Louis McDonald Jr. has lost his wife (by divorce) and father (by death) and, awaiting an inheritance check that might never arrive, spends his days watching bad TV and drinking beer — until, one day, he finds and brings home an overweight mixed-breed dog named Layla. Through the lens of Louis’s renewed purpose, Miller draws out those moments of warmth, mundanity, and absurdity that make up daily life.

Pub date: May 21

13. 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai

When 12-year-old Marwand returns to Afghanistan for the first time in six years, all he remembers of this “home” is Budabash, the guard dog who watches over his extended family’s compound in Logar. Knowing only American house dogs, Marwand approaches Budabash as a friend — resulting in a lost finger and an escaped dog. Together with his cousins, Marwand sets off on a 99-night journey across Afghanistan in search of the family dog; it’s a story full of humor and heart.

Pub date: Jan. 22

14. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

As thousands of families are being separated and detained at the US–Mexico border, another family takes a cross-country trip from New York to Arizona, in search of Apacheria, the stolen home of the Apaches — listening to the news about this “immigration crisis” along the way. As tension mounts in the car and outside of it, Luiselli focuses on the ways in which empathy, justice, and passion play out within one family’s summer.

Pub date: Feb. 12

15. The Affairs of the Falcóns by Melissa Rivero

The Affairs of the Falcóns presents the long and exhausting struggle of living undocumented in the US, as seen through the experience of one family. When Ana Falcón fled Peru for New York with her husband and two young children in the 1990s, she was only looking to escape economic and political hardship, to give her family a chance — now, she is struggling to keep them afloat. Up against inhumane working conditions, an intimidating loan shark, and a cousin who might throw them out of her home at any moment, Ana is forced to consider just how much she’s willing to sacrifice.

Pub date: April 2

16. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

In a Southern California college town, an epidemic spreads: Victims are falling into unending sleep, and the only thing doctors know for sure is the sleepers are experiencing some kind of unprecedented, heightened dreams. The town descends into panic and chaos, trying to stay awake but also trying to understand: What are they dreaming about?

Pub date: Jan. 15

17. You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

Just over a year ago, Kristen Roupenian’s short story “Cat Person” — about a sexual encounter that was anywhere from cringey to assault, depending whom you ask — was published by the New Yorker and quickly took over the internet. In You Know You Want This, Roupenian explores more of what made “Cat Person” so captivating — shrewd and unselfconscious writing about all manner of sexual proclivities and power dynamics.

Pub date: Jan. 15

18. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical device known as the Miracle Submarine; patients enter the pressurized oxygen chamber with the hope that it will cure a range of ailments and issues like infertility or autism. When the machine explodes, the couple are put on trial, in a case that upends the entire community, unearthing shameful secrets, rivalries, and scandals.

Pub date: April 16

19. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

King has spent years safeguarding an island territory that has kept his wife and three daughters sequestered from the outside world — a world, he warns them, full of dangerous toxins and violent men. But when King goes missing and three strange men — the first they’ve ever seen, apart from King — arrive intent on taking their home, the girls must figure out how to survive.

Pub date: Jan. 8

20. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Trust Exercise studies the inner machinations of an elite performing arts high school in the 1980s, focusing on the romance of two freshman — something that should be innocent but isn’t quite what it seems. And through Choi’s inventive storytelling, this relationship and its aftermath acts as the nexus in a sprawling story of adolescence, loyalty, truth, and fiction.

Pub date: April 9

21. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls takes the reader back to 1940s New York City, through the perspective of 89-year-old Vivian Morris reminiscing about her wild time in the theater. Her story is rich with memorable characters — the eccentric aunt she moves in with who owns her own theater, albeit one in major disrepair; the larger-than-life leading lady; the chorus of showgirls; the alluring leading man — and a vibrant setting, all of which come tumbling down when Vivian finds herself in the midst of a sexual scandal.

Pub date: June 4

22. The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

During the reign of the last sultan of Muslim Spain, a concubine named Fatima and her best friend Hassan have a dangerous secret — Hassan, the palace mapmaker, can draw maps that bend reality. When Fatima befriends a woman from the newly formed Spanish monarchy, she makes the mistake of revealing this secret and thus endangering their lives. The friends escape the palace and travel Spain in search of freedom — with the help of a clever jinn.

Pub date: March 12

23. Deep River by Karl Marlantes

In late 19th-century Finland, the three Koski siblings are raised to maintain resilience above all else — especially after their nationalist father is arrested by imperial Russian authorities. With the promise of owning their own piece of land in the New World, the siblings flee to southern Washington, where each sibling is able to forge an identity: Ilmari acts as a sort of spiritual guide; Matti, the entrepreneur, becomes a successful logger; Aino sacrifices her own needs for her work as a union activist. It’s a rich and sprawling family saga that touches on family pride, self-actualization, and what it means to make a home.

Pub date: July 2

24. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s latest offers an alternative history, taking place in a 1980s London where Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher struggles for power, and Alan Turing has figured out how to create near-perfect androids. Charlie and Miranda are in love in this strange world, but their relationship is threatened when they decide to buy a synthetic human of their own — which turns their relationship into a love triangle.

Pub date: April 23

25. Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang’s second fantastical short story collection returns to those eternal questions about the nature of the universe and the meaning of our existence within it, sharing profound insights about ethics and accountability in stories of time portals, AI pets, alien tech, and more.

Pub date: May 7

26. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is a story of sibling love. When their parents die, the eldest of the Butler children, Althea, takes the role of the matriarch at just 12 years old. When, decades later, she and her husband are arrested for fraud, her younger sisters Viola and Lillian must now take care of Althea — namely, they must take over raising her twin teenage daughters. Told from the alternating perspectives of each distinct sister, the story delves into issues of race, sexuality, mental illness, and familial obligation.

Pub date: Feb. 19

27. Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

When Jessa-Lynn Morton finds her father dead by suicide right in the middle of his taxidermy shop, the family business falls on her while the rest of her family falls apart. Her mother can’t stop sneaking into the shop and putting the taxidermied animals into compromising positions; her brother goes silent; her sister-in-law (who Jessa happens to be in love with) walks out. As Jessa struggles to keep her family afloat, she realizes she must come to terms with who these people are — and how they’ve made her who she is, too. It’s hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart.

Pub date: June 4

28. The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott

The stories in The World Doesn’t Require You all take place in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, built by the leaders of the country’s only successful slave revolt. Each story follows different enchanting residents — a struggling musician who is also the last son of God, a PhD candidate whose dissertation unwittingly sparks chaos, a robot; as a whole, the collection weaves incisive criticism, dark humor, and magical realism in profound explorations of belief, love, justice, and violence.

Pub date: Aug. 20

29. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

In the midst of her grief over her mother’s death, Shalini — a wealthy woman from Bangalore — convinces herself the death has something to do with the mysterious disappearance of a family friend from her childhood. She sets off for a remote Himalayan village in Kashmir determined to find answers, but is soon confronted by the dangerous political climate of the region and finds herself ensnared in local conflicts. Grappling with the loss of her mother and her new sense of purpose, she must decide how much danger she’s willing to face.

Pub date: Jan. 15

30. Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

The author of 2016’s devastating novel Here Comes the Sun, Denis-Benn explores familiar themes of strained mother-daughter relationships, class, and sexuality in her sophomore effort, about a Jamaican woman named Patsy who leaves behind her mother and daughter to reunite with her secret Brooklyn lover.

Pub date: June 4

31. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

A fitting follow-up to his brutal, Pulitzer Prize–winning depiction of slavery in The Underground Railroad, Whitehead turns again to America’s grimmest archives, with a fictional account of a real-life Florida reform school, infamous for torturing its poor black students during the 1960s civil rights movement.

Pub date: July 16

32. The White Book by Han Kang

The third of South Korean author Han Kang's books to be published in the US, The White Book explores the devastation of grief as a nameless writer on a retreat in Poland navigates the loss of her sister. It's been shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Pub date: Feb. 19

33. The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

Chung, a former math major at the University of Chicago, leans on her own real-life aptitude for math for her sophomore novel about a talented mathematician named Katherine whose attempt to solve the Riemann hypothesis uncovers secrets about her family's past.

Pub date: June 18

34. Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li’s gutting novel imagines a conversation between a mother and child, months after the child’s suicide. The prose is ethereal and electric, radiating unthinkable pain and profound love.

Pub date: Feb. 5

35. The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

Namwali Serpell’s sweeping, marvelous debut novel begins in 1904, on a colonial settlement along the Zambezi River called the Old Drift — where one man’s mistake has cataclysmic consequences. Over the course of the century, Serpell traces the history of Zambia through the experiences of three families entangled in a generations-long cycle of revenge. Full of magic, history, and humor, The Old Drift will be unlike anything you’ve ever read.

Pub date: March 26

36. All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg

A dysfunctional family awaits the death of its patriarch, in Attenberg’s sixth novel. If it’s anything like her breakout best-seller The Middlesteins, expect a warm and moving portrayal of a family in crisis.

Pub date: Oct. 22

37. A novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The superstar author will publish his first novel this year, but what the book is about and when it will come out are tightly under wraps.

Pub date: TBD


38. Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

Go Ahead in the Rain is poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib’s self-described “love letter” to A Tribe Called Quest — but it is an extensively researched and deeply considered one. The book digs into not only the rap group’s history, but also their context, examining the world and climate of rap in the 1990s. And since Abdurraqib writes as a fan, he allows us into his own history alongside the groundbreaking group, blending personal, musical, and cultural insights into something that truly resonates.

Pub date: Feb. 1

39. The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esme Wang’s essay collection is intimate, urgent, and powerful, opening Wang’s experience of schizoaffective disorder to not only those who also have what she calls “the collected schizophrenias” but also those who want to better understand it. Wang writes generously about the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life — how she’s learned to present it to (or hide it from) the world, how it shapes relationships, how it affects the way her body functions — and lends her keen analysis to the big, ethical questions about how we treat those whose experience of the world differs from ours.

Pub date: Feb. 5

40. Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir is a frank but warm examination of the world as it is distilled and understood by Jacob’s 6-year-old son. Looking for the best way to answer the many (many) questions her son — who is half Jewish and half Indian — asks about not only the world but also his place in it, Jacob turns to her own history, and looks at the conversations about race, sexuality, injustice, and love that have helped her make sense of the world.

Pub date: March 26

41. I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Mary Laura Philpott’s memoir-in-essays is like a reassuring pep talk from someone who’s been there, full of wry observations about the expectations and disillusionments of adulthood. Finding herself unsatisfied after doing everything “right” — job, family, house, etc. — she wonders if her only options are a sort of grim resignation or a complete upheaval of all she knows. Those who find both options equally terrifying will be comforted by Philpott’s meditations on identity and the possibility of countless tiny reinventions.

Pub date: April 2

42. The Truffle Underground by Ryan Jacobs

In the extensively reported The Truffle Underground, Ryan Jacobs dives deep into the dark and sometimes deadly world of the truffle supply chain — spies stealing trade secrets, armed farmers guarding their fields, hunters poisoning the dogs of their rivals. Fans of weird true crime will (I’m sorry) eat it up.

Pub date: June 4

43. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

T Kira Madden’s highly anticipated debut memoir is about coming of age in Boca Raton as a queer biracial young woman, living simultaneously in worlds of massive privilege, thanks to her family wealth, and deep alienation. Being the only child of parents living with addiction and in nearly constant conflict, Madden looks elsewhere for solace — and these essays, often about the objects of those searches, are haunting and profound.

Pub date: March 5

44. Screen Tests by Kate Zambreno

Kate Zambreno’s genre-bending Screen Tests is hard to pin down — maybe they’re essays, maybe they’re micro-fictions — but the collection as a whole serves as a peek into the mind of a brilliant woman, meditating on ambition, vanity, age, art, and creativity, and drawing portraits of those who inspire her — Susan Sontag, Kathy Acker, Amal Clooney, and more.

Pub date: July 23

45. Coventry by Rachel Cusk

Rachel Cusk’s highly anticipated Coventry is the provocative author’s first collection of essays, comprising a selection of new and previously published writings that expand on the themes prevalent in her fiction — family, gender, politics, art, and the conflicts between private and public selves.

Pub date: Aug. 20

46. American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation by Adam Morris

In American Messiahs, journalist Adam Morris pulls from years of research into the messianic figures that have captivated Americans throughout history — including Cyrus Teed, Father Divine, and Jim Jones — and demonstrates their function within our nation’s culture. These self-described prophets and leaders could only exist in a country promised an impossible “American dream,” and this fascinating and provocative investigation illuminates the ideals underpinning the work of these flawed, larger-than-life characters.

Pub date: March 26

47. What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence edited by Michele Filgate