Just what it says on the tin: some books that are going to be published in 2019 that I cannot wait to get my hands on. Summaries (italicized) are from Goodreads, and all publishers & publication dates are for the U.S. unless otherwise indicated.
Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich
January 3, 2019
Serpent’s Tail (UK)
“For the first ten years of her life, Jana was a simple Czech girl, a watercolour. Her days were a clock run by the Czechoslovakian State Security, snapping hidden photos in their plainclothes. Much fervent artwork was created: Man Subverting Republic (Black and White), Woman Distributing (Tryptic). Man and Woman Organizing (Reprint). Jana was a watercolour, until the raven-haired girl Zorka came. Jana, now an interpreter in Paris, hasn’t seen Zorka in a decade.
Aimée is in Paris too, happily married and trying to get into her hotel room. On the other side of the door is her wife Dominique, face down on the hotel linen, one hand drooping off the side of the bed, fingers curled in, wedding ring white gold like an eye frozen mid-wink.
A body now, no longer a person.
As Aimée and Jana’s stories slowly circle through time and place, they lead inexorably together…”
I’ve read this summary multiple times and still couldn’t tell you what this book is actually going to be about – all I know is that it sounds like it could be genius.
Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan
translated from the French by George Miller
January 10, 2019
(originally published in 2018)
“Adults are as lost as the children they should be protecting, in this compelling exploration of the destructive secrets and loyalties that are kept behind closed doors.
Thirteen-year-old Theo and his friend Mathis secretly drink on an almost daily basis. Their teacher, Helene, suspects something is not right with Theo and becomes obsessed with rescuing him, casting aside her professionalism to the point of no return.
Cecile, mother of Mathis, discovers something horrifying on her husband’s computer that makes her question whether she has ever truly known him.”
This is a short little novel translated from French that I certainly hope will be as hard-hitting as it sounds.
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
February 7, 2019
“Iceland, 1686. The brutal, lava-scarred landscape can swallow a man without so much as a volcanic gasp.
Jón Eiríksson has just married his second wife in a year. But Rósa’s new home in the windswept village of Stykkishólmur is terrifyingly isolated – the villagers are suspicious of strangers and fearful of something which they will not name.
What is Rósa’s new husband secret, and why does the spectre of his first wife Anna haunt them so?
Set against the backdrop of the seventeenth-century Icelandic witch trials, in a land governed by religion and fear, THE GLASS WOMAN is addictive, breathtaking, and perfect for readers of BURIAL RITES and THE ESSEX SERPENT.”
I hate to admit that I’m occasionally pulled in by comp titles, but “for readers of Burial Rites” is a hard sentence for me to resist. I just love books set in Iceland. (To be published in the US on September 3 by Harper, but I’m including the UK edition in this post as the US edition does not yet have a cover reveal.)
The Cassandra by Sharma Shields
February 12, 2019
Henry Holt and Co.
“Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.
Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra’s story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man’s capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.”
This is a retelling of the Cassandra myth and I could not be more excited for it.
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
translated from the Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt
February 12, 2019
(originally published in 1979)
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
“It is spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment. Territory of Light follows her over the course of a year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-old daughter alone. Her new home is filled with light streaming through the windows, so bright she has to squint, but she finds herself plummeting deeper into darkness, becoming unstable, untethered. As the months come and go and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become.”
I recently read a short story by Yuko Tsushima that I really enjoyed and am looking forward to reading more of her work, so I’m glad I have an ARC of this!
When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
March 5, 2019
Thomas Dunne Books
“If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said?
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual ¬- though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerful and poignantly laid bare.”
The first of many Irish titles you’ll unsurprisingly see on this list. It’s blurbed by John Boyne so I don’t see how we can go wrong here.
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
March 19, 2019
“Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.
Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.”
I’m a Lisa See superfan – I’ve read six of her novels and I think she writes some of the best historical fiction out there. This one’s going to be a departure for her as it’s set in Korea rather than China, but she’s proven to be an impeccable researcher and I can’t wait to see what she does with this great premise.
The Ghost Factory by Jenny McCartney
March 21, 2019
4th Estate (UK)
“The Troubles turned Northern Ireland into a ghost factory: as the manufacturing industry withered, the death business boomed. In trying to come to terms with his father’s sudden death, and the attack on his harmless best friend Titch, Jacky is forced to face the bullies who still menace a city scarred by conflict. After he himself is attacked, he flees to London to build a new life. But even in the midst of a burgeoning love affair he hears the ghosts of his past echoing, pulling him back to Belfast, crying out for retribution and justice.”
In my Milkman-inspired quest to read more fiction from Northern Ireland, this book came to my attention and it sounds perfect, quite frankly.
The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan
(Frankie Sheehan #2)
April 2, 2019
“Death is no stranger to Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, but she isn’t the only one from her small, coastal suburb to be intimately acquainted with it. Years ago, teenager Seán Hennessey shocked the tight-knit community when he was convicted of the brutal murder of his parents and attempted slaying of his sister, though he always maintained his innocence. Now, Seán is finally being released from prison—but when his newfound freedom coincides with the discovery of two bodies, the alleged connection between the cases only serves to pull Frankie further from answers even as it draws her closer to her town’s hidden darkness. With a television documentary revisiting Seán’s sentence pushing the public’s sympathies into conflict on a weekly basis, a rabid media pressuring the police like never before, and a rising body count, Frankie will need all of her resources if she is not only to catch a killer, but put to rest what really happened all those years ago.”
I really really enjoyed Kiernan’s debut Too Close To Breathe, despite my usual hatred of police procedurals. The characters were fantastic and I’m looking forward to diving back into their story.
Doggerland by Ben Smith
April 4, 2019
4th Estate (UK)
“In the North Sea, far from what remains of the coastline, a wind farm stretches for thousands of acres.
The Boy, who is no longer really a boy, and the Old Man, whose age is unguessable, are charged with its maintenance. They carry out their never-ending work as the waves roll, dragging strange shoals of flotsam through the turbine fields. Land is only a memory.
So too is the Boy’s father, who worked on the turbines before him, and disappeared.
The boy has been sent by the Company to take his place, but the question of where he went and why is one for which the Old Man will give no answer.
As the Old Man dredges the sea for lost things, the Boy sifts for the truth of his missing father. Until one day, from the limitless water, a plan for escape emerges…”
I’m still not completely sure what this is about but I am so ready for it.
The Fire Starters by Jan Carson
April 4, 2019
Transworld Digital (UK)
“Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter might not be as harmless as she seems.
Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too.
The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect?
Dark, propulsive and thrillingly original, this tale of fierce familial love and sacrifice fizzes with magic and wonder.”
I saw this on Lisa McInerney’s Instagram (aka the queen) – I’m not sure if it has her stamp of approval yet, but it does have Donal Ryan’s, so that’s good enough for me.
The Last by Hanna Jameson
April 9, 2019
“For fans of high-concept thrillers such as Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts, this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war—along with twenty other survivors—who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.”
Murder mystery meets dystopia sounds like a promising combination.
The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
April 23, 2019
“Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago—her father.
Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.
Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her—as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighbourhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.
When the first nighttime intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything.”
I never got around to reading Elliott’s debut, The French Girl, but I’m still interested in reading that at some point, and the summary of her new one sounds wonderful.
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
April 23, 2019
“Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power, and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding.
Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong, and clever—a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma.”
I really should read more McEwan before declaring myself a fan, but On Chesil Beach was just so good that I want to read everything he writes ever.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
June 4, 2019
“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.”
I haven’t yet read Vuong’s poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, but I’ve heard nothing but good things and this novel sounds like it’s going to be excellent.
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
(The Poppy War #2)
August 6, 2019
[spoilers for The Poppy War]
“In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.
With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.
But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.”
The Poppy War was one of the best books I read all year and certainly one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read, and I cannot wait to continue this story.
Are you looking forward to any of these? And what are some of your most anticipated 2019 releases? Comment and let me know!