Lists and Notable Articles

Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview

By posted at 6:00 am on January 3, 2012 83

2012 is shaping up to be another exciting year for readers. While last year boasted long-awaited novels from David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, and Jeffrey Eugenides, readers this year can look forward to new Toni Morrison, Richard Ford, Peter Carey, Lionel Shriver, and, of course, newly translated Roberto Bolaño, as well as, in the hazy distance of this coming fall and beyond, new Michael Chabon, Hilary Mantel, and John Banville. We also have a number of favorites stepping outside of fiction. Marilynn Robinson and Jonathan Franzen have new essay collections on the way. A pair of plays are on tap from Denis Johnson. A new W.G. Sebald poetry collection has been translated. And Nathan Englander and Jonathan Safran Foer have teamed to update a classic Jewish text. But that just offers the merest suggestion of the literary riches that 2012 has on offer. Riches that we have tried to capture in another of our big book previews.

The list that follows isn’t exhaustive – no book preview could be – but, at 8,400 words strong and encompassing 81 titles, this is the only 2012 book preview you will ever need.

January or Already Out:

coverThe Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus: No venom seems more befitting an author than words, words, words. In Ben Marcus’s Flame Alphabet, language is the poison that youth inflict on adult ears. Utterances ushered from children’s mouths have toxic effects on adults, while the underage remain immune to the assault. The effects are so harmful that The Flame Alphabet’s narrator, Sam, and his wife must separate themselves from their daughter to preserve their health. Sam sets off to the lab to examine language and its properties in an attempt to discover an antidote and reunite his family. Marcus’s uncharacteristically conventional narrative makes way for him to explore the uncanny eccentricities of language and life. (Anne)

coverThe Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq: Michel Houellebecq, the dyspeptic bad boy of French letters, has been accused of every imaginable sin against political correctness. His new novel, The Map and the Territory, is a send-up of the art world that tones down the sex and booze and violence but compensates by introducing a “sickly old tortoise” named Michel Houellebecq who gets gruesomely murdered. The book has drawn charges of plagiarism because passages were lifted virtually verbatim from Wikipedia. “If people really think that (is plagiarism),” Houellebecq sniffed, “then they haven’t the first notion what literature is.” Apparently, he does. The Map and the Territory was awarded the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize. (Bill)

coverDistrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson: One of our most prescient and tuned-in writers of science fiction is coming out with his first collection of non-fiction. Distrust That Particular Flavor gathers together articles and essays William Gibson wrote, beginning in the 1980s, for Rolling Stone, Wired, Time, The Whole Earth Catalog, The New York Times and other publications and websites. There are also forewords, introductions and speeches, even an autobiographical sketch. While these pieces offer fascinating glimpses inside the machinery of Gibson’s fiction writing, their central concern is technology and how it is shaping our future, and us. “What we used to call ‘future shock,'” Gibson writes, “is now simply the one constant in all our lives.” (Bill)

coverThe Last Nude by Ellis Avery: With starred reviews from both Booklist and Library Journal, Ellis Avery’s second novel The Last Nude imagines the brief love affair between the glamorous Art-Deco Painter Tamara de Lempicka and the young muse for her most iconic painting The Beautiful Rafaela.  Set in 1920s Paris, among the likes of Jean Cocteau, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, and a fictional American journalist named Anson Hall (a sort of Ernest Hemingway type), Avery explores the costs of ambition, the erotics of sexual awakening, and the devastation that ensues when these two converge.  Critics have praised The Last Nude as riveting, elegant, seductive, and breathtaking. (Sonya)

coverHope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander: Auslander has made a name for himself with side-splitting appearances on This American Life and his equally funny memoir Foreskin’s Lament that have marking out a fruitful career as a Jewish humorist. Auslander’s new book is his first novel, which New York says is “kind of about the lighter side of collective Holocaust guilt” Kirkus, meanwhile, has called the book, which explores the Holocaust as “an unshakable, guilt-inducing fixture in the life of any self-aware Jew,” “Brutal, irreverent and very funny. An honest-to-goodness heir to Portnoy’s Complaint.” (Max)

coverSmut by Alan Bennett: Given the existence of Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes, a new book entitled Smut would seem to have a lot to live up to—at minimum, it should descend into dimensions so filthy and moist that they would cause Baker’s own thunderstick to droop in disgusted admiration. Instead, the absurdly prolific, versatile, and esteemed writer of The History Boys and The Madness of King George provides a pair of very English stories about the sexual adventures of two middle-aged, middle-class British women. So, rather than a lightspeed journey smack into a rigid “Malcolm Gladwell,” Smut is, in the words of the Guardian, a “comedy of false appearances.” And that’s probably not such a bad thing. (Jacob)

coverLife Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts by William H. Gass: Random House will publish Gass’s latest collection of non-fiction this January. In Life Sentences, his tenth non-fiction book, Gass explores the work of a number of his own favorite writers, with essays on Kafka, Proust, Stein, Nietzsche, Henry James and Knut Hamsen. Gass, the author of Omensetter’s Luck and The Tunnel, is a central figure in postmodern literature, and his critical essays have been hugely influential (he coined the term “metafiction” in his 1970 essay “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction”). (Mark)

coverAt Last and The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
Edward St. Aubyn is probably neck-and-neck with Alan Hollinghurst for the title of “purest living English prose stylist.” However, where Hollinghurst traces a line of descent from the prodigious Henry James, St. Aubyn’s leaner style harkens back to the shorter comic novels of Waugh and Henry Green. For 20 years, he’s been producing a semiautobiographical series whose chief interest – one of them anyway – is seeing all that fineness applied to the coarsest of behaviors: abuse, addiction, abandonment. Booker nominations notwithstanding, readers on these shores have paid little attention. Then again, Hollinghurst took a while to find his audience, too, and with the publication of the final “Patrick Melrose novel,” At Last, St. Aubyn should finally get his due. Latecomers can prepare by immersing themselves in the new omnibus edition of the previous titles: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk. (Garth)

February:

coverHalf-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan: In addition to being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Edugyan’s sophomore novel was and nominated for all three of the major Canadian literary prizes, and won the Scotiabank Giller award for best Canadian novel published this year, whose jury said “any jazz musician would be happy to play the way Edugyan writes.” Praised by The Independent for its “shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang,” Half-Blood Blues follows the dangerous exploits of an interracial jazz band in Berlin, Baltimore, and Nazi-occupied Paris. (Emily K.)

coverThe Recognitions by William Gaddis: Fifty-seven years after its first publication, Dalkey Archive Press reissues William Gaddis’s classic with a new introduction by William H. Gass. Gaddis’s mammoth work of early postmodernism (or very late modernism, depending on who you ask) is one of the key entries in the canon of American postwar fiction, and a major influence on the likes of David Foster Wallace. Set in the late ’40s and early ’50s, the novel is a thoroughly ruthless (and ruthlessly thorough) examination of fraudulence and authenticity in the arts. Given its influence on postmodern American fiction, Dalkey Archive Press seems a natural home for the novel.

coverWhat We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander: Nathan Englander, 41, burst onto the literary scene in 1999 with his widely praised collection of short stories For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. This February he releases his second collection of stories, eight in all, that draw on themes from Jewish history and culture. The title story, about two married couples playing out the Holocaust as a parlor game, appeared in the December 12 edition of The New Yorker. The collection as a whole is suffused with violence and sexual desire. In a starred review Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “[Englander] brings a tremendous range and energy to his chosen topic. (Kevin)

coverSatantango by László Krasznahorkai, translated by George Szirtes: What is it with Hungary? It may not have produced the highest number of Nobel Peace Prize candidates, but it almost certainly boasts the highest population-density of contenders for the Nobel in Literature. There are the two Péters, Nádas and Esterhazy. There’s Imre Kertesz, who deservedly took home the laurels in 2002. More recently, English-language monoglots have been discovering the work of László Krasznahorkai. Susan Sontag called The Melancholy of Resistance, “inexorable, visionary”…(of course, Susan Sontag once called a Salade Nicoise “the greatest light lunch of the postwar period.”) More recently, James Wood hailed War and War and Animalinside as “extraordinary.” Satantango, Krasznahorkai’s first novel, from 1985, now reaches these shores, courtesy of the great translator George Szirtes. Concerning the dissolution of a collective farm, it was the basis for Bela Tarr’s 7-hour movie of the same name. (Garth)

coverBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo: Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker and an astute chronicler of America’s poor, turns to India for her first book, a work of narrative nonfiction exploring Annawadi, a shantytown settlement near the Mumbai airport. Behind the Beautiful Flowers follows the lives of a trash sorter, a scrap metal thief, and other citizens of Annawadi, and delves into the daily life and culture of a slum in one of the world’s most complex and fascinating cities. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly says “Boo’s commanding ability to convey an interior world comes balanced by concern for the structural realities of India’s economic liberalization…and her account excels at integrating the party politics and policy strategies behind eruptions of deep-seated religious, caste, and gender divides.” (Patrick)

coverVaramo by Cesar Aira: With a new book out in translation seemingly every time you turn around, the Argentine genius Cesar Aira is fast achieving a Bolaño-like ubiquity. And with more than 80 books published in his native land, there’s more where that came from. Aira’s fascinating writing process, which involves never revisiting the previous day’s writing, means that his novels lack the consistency of Bolaño’s. Instead, you get an improvisatory wildness that, at its best – as in Ghosts – opens up possibilities where there had seemed to be brick walls. Varamo, recently reviewed in The Quarterly Conversation, features “a Panamanian civil servant [who] conceives and writes what will become a canonical poem of the Latin American avant-garde.” The great Chris Andrews translates.

coverFlatscreen by Adam Wilson: “But maybe Mom’s not the place to start…” So begins the fast, funny debut of Adam Wilson, who’s recently published fiction and criticism in The Paris Review and Bookforum. The story concerns the unlikely…er, friendship between ADHD adolescent Eli Schwartz and one Seymour J. Kahn, a horndog paraplegic and ex-TV star. In the channel-surfing argot that gives the prose much of its flavor: Think The Big Lebowski meets Catcher in the Rye meets that old cable series Dream On. (Garth)

coverNo One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel: A graduate of the MFA program at UC Irvine, Ramona Ausubel brings us a debut novel about a remote Jewish village in Romania. The year is 1939, and in an attempt to protect themselves from the encroaching war, its residents—at the prompting of an eleven-year-old girl—decide to tell a different story, to will reality out of existence, and imagine a new and safer world. Last April, Ausubel published a strange and beautiful story called “Atria” in The New Yorker, and I’ve been anticipating her novel ever since. (Edan)

coverStay Awake by Dan Chaon: Once called “a remarkable chronicler of a very American kind of sadness” (SF Chronicle), the author of Await Your Reply has slowly built a reputation as one of the most incisive writers of our time, specializing in characters who are dark, damaged, and perplexing, but making the reader feel protective of and connected to them. Populated with night terrors, impossible memories, ghosts, mysterious messages, and paranoia, Stay Awake heralds Chaon’s return to the short story with delicate unease. (Janet)

coverZona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer: Geoff Dyer shows no signs of slowing down after seeing two stunning books of essays published in the U.S. in 2011, Otherwise Known As the Human Condition and The Missing of the Somme. This English writer, blessed with limitless range and a ravishing ability to bend and blend genres, is coming out with a peculiar little book about a 30-year obsession. It’s a close analysis of the Russian director Andre Tarkovsky’s 1979 movie Stalker, and Dyer calls it “an account of watchings, rememberings, misrememberings and forgettings; it is not the record of a dissection.” Even so, Dyer brings some sharp instruments to the job, and the result is an entertaining and enlightening joy. (Bill)

coverThe Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal: A book in the form of a duel. In 2003, John D’Agata was commissioned to write an essay about a young man who jumped to his death from a Las Vegas hotel. The magazine that commissioned the story ultimately rejected it due to factual inaccuracies. Is there a difference between accuracy and truth? Is it ever appropriate to substitute one for the other in a work of non-fiction? The Lifespan of a Fact examines these questions in the form of a seven-year correspondence between D’Agata and his increasingly exasperated fact-checker, Jim Fingal; the book is composed of the essay itself, Fingal’s notes on the essay, D’Agata’s responses to the notes, Fingal’s responses to the responses. (Emily M.)

coverDogma by Lars Iyer: Lars Iyer’s debut novel Spurious was published last year to considerable acclaim, and was short-listed for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize. Spurious concerned a narrator named Lars Iyer, also a writer, his friend W., their certainty that we’re living in the End of Times, their longing to think a truly original thought, the mold that’s taking over Lars’ apartment, their parallel searches for a) meaning and b) a leader and c) quality gin. Dogma—an altogether darker work, the second in a planned trilogy—picks up where Spurious left off. (Emily M.)

coverThe Guardians: An Elegy by Sarah Manguso: In this brief book, Manguso, who already has a memoir – the acclaimed Two Kinds of Decay – two poetry collections and two short story collections under her belt, offers a rumination on a friend named Harris who had spent time in a mental institution before killing himself by stepping onto the tracks in front of a commuter train. Kirkus says the book asks the question: “How does the suicide of a friend affect someone who has come perilously close to suicide herself?” (Max)

March:

coverWhen I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson: The exalted author of Gilead and Home claims that the hardest work of her life has been convincing New Englanders that growing up in Idaho was not “intellectually crippling.” There, during her childhood, she read about Cromwell, Constantinople, and Carthage, and her new collection of essays celebrates the enduring value of reading, as well as the role of faith in modern life, the problem with pragmatism, and her confident, now familiar, view of human nature. (Janet)

coverReligion for Atheists by Alain de Botton: In his new book, Alain de Botton argues for a middle ground in the debate between religious people and non-believers: rather than dismiss religion outright, he suggests, a better approach would be to steal from it. de Botton, himself a non-believer, suggests that “while the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false,” religious doctrines nonetheless contain helpful ideas that an atheist or agnostic might reasonably consider borrowing. (Emily M.)

coverArcadia by Lauren Groff: Previewed in our July 2011 round-up of most anticipated books, Arcadia follows Bit Stone, a man who grows up in an agrarian utopian commune in central New York that falls apart, as they generally do. The second half of the novel charts Bit’s life as an adult, showing how his upbringing influenced and shaped his identity. A starred review in Publishers Weekly says, “The effective juxtaposition of past and future and Groff’s (Delicate Edible Birds) beautiful prose make this an unforgettable read.” Hannah Tinti calls it “an extraordinary novel.” (Edan)

coverGods Without Men by Hari Kunzru: Hari Kunzru’s always had an interest in counterculture. His last novel, My Revolutions, concerned ’60s-era unrest and its consequences. That countercultural energy not only pervades the plot of his new novel; it explodes its form. Structured in short chapters ranging over three hundred years of history and several dozen different styles, Gods Without Men has already been likened to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas – but with “more heart and more interest in characterization” (The Guardian.) And the centrifugal structure gives Kunzru license to tackle the Iraq War, Eighteenth Century explorers, hippie communes, and UFOs. (Garth)

coverSuddenly, A Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret: Etgar Keret’s choice of position while writing–facing a bathroom, his back to a window–reveals much about his fiction. He stories are absurd, funny, and unearth the unexpected in seemingly everyday situations. Many stories from his forthcoming collection are set on planes, “a reality show that nobody bothers to shoot,” and deal in wishes and desires. In “Guava,” a plane crashes, a passenger is granted a last wish and is then reincarnated as a guava. Another story involves a wish-granting goldfish, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, and a Russian expatriate who seeks to avoid having strangers knock on his door. Keret’s stories are brief inundations of imagination, an experience that holds true for Keret as much as it does for his reader. Keret says he becomes so immersed while writing that he’s unaware of his surroundings, regardless of his view. (Anne)

coverEnchantments by Kathryn Harrison: As a young writer, Harrison gained fame for her tales of incestuous love, which turned out to be based in part on her own liaison with her father, which she described in her controversial memoir, The Kiss. Now, Harrison tackles a different kind of troubled family in this tale of doomed love between Masha, the daughter of Rasputin, and sickly Aloysha, son of the deposed Tsar Nicholas II, while the Romanovs are imprisoned in St. Petersburg’s Alexander Palace in the months following the Bolshevik Revolution. (Michael)

coverAngelmaker by Nick Harkaway: Nick Harkaway’s second novel—his first was the sprawling and wildly inventive The Gone-Away World—concerns a clockwork repairman by the name of Joe Spork, a quiet single man in his thirties who leads an uneventful life in an unfashionable corner of London, and a nearly-ninety-year-old former spy by the name of Edie Banister. Their worlds collide when Spork repairs an especially unusual clockwork mechanism that effectively blows his quiet life to pieces and immerses him in a world, Harkaway reports, of “mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, determined and extremely dangerous receptionists, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe.” (Emily M.)

coverThe New Republic by Lionel Shriver: After a run of bestsellers, including the Columbine-inspired We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was recently made into a movie with Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, Shriver is digging into her bottom drawer to publish an old novel rejected by publishers when she wrote it in 1998. The New Republic, written when Shriver still lived in strife-torn Northern Ireland, is set on a non-existent peninsula of Portugal and focuses on terrorism and cults of personality. (Michael)

coverThe Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner: It’s been 14 years since Leyner’s last literary release, The Tetherballs of Bougainville, though he’s been busy co-authoring the series of ponderously quirky human anatomy readers that started with Why do Men Have Nipples: Hundreds of Questions you’d Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini. With The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, Leyner returns to fiction, takes on the geographical and cultural contradictions of Dubai, and writes down the mythology of what he’s calling our “Modern Gods.” Also included: a cameo from the Mister Softee jingle, and a host of “drug addled bards.” (Emily K.)

coverThe Vanishers by Heidi Julavits: The fourth novel from Believer editor Julavits tells the story of an academy for psychics and the battle between two powerful women, the masterful Madame Ackermann and her most promising — and hence threatening — student Julia Severn. After Ackermann forces Julia to relive her mother’s suicide, Julia flees to Manhattan where she works a humdrum job in exile. Soon, her talents are needed to track down a missing artist who may have a connection to her mother. Powell’s Bookstore included a galley of the book as a pairing with Erin Morgenstern’s enormously popular The Night Circus, noting that The Vanishershas magic, darkness, whimsy, and flat-out great writing.” (Patrick)

New American Haggadah edited by Jonathan Safran Foer and translated by Nathan Englander: This new translation, brought to us by Foer and Englander (with design work by the Israeli “typographic experimentalist” Oded Ezer), represents an unusual confluence of youthful, modern American Jewish thought. Featuring essays and commentary by an intriguingly diverse group (Tony Kushner, Michael Pollan, Lemony Snicket), the New American Haggadah should deliver an infusion of fresh intellectual energy into the traditional Seder narrative. (Jacob)

coverHot Pink by Adam Levin: Adam Levin works on his short game with this follow-up to his 1,030-page debut novel The Instructions. Hot Pink is a collection of short stories, many of which have appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly and Tin House. From his own descriptions of the stories, Levin seems to be mining the same non-realist seam he excavated with his debut. There are stories about legless lesbians in love, puking dolls, violent mime artists, and comedians suffering from dementia. Fans of The Instructions’ wilder flights of invention (and devotees of the legless lesbian romance genre) will find much to anticipate here. (Mark)

coverReading for My Life: Writings, 1958-2008 by John Leonard: For anyone who aspires to write book reviews – that orphaned form stranded halfway between Parnassus and Fleet Street – the late John Leonard was an inspiration. Tough-minded, passionate, at once erudite and street, he was something like the literary equivalent of Pauline Kael. I’m assuming here we’ll get a nice selection of his best work. (Garth)

April:

coverThe Cove by Ron Rash: For the poet, novelist and short story writer Ron Rash, this could be the break-out novel that gives him the name recognition of such better-known Appalachian conjurers as Lee Smith, Robert Morgan, Fred Chappell and Charles Frazier. The Cove, set in the North Carolina mountains during the First World War, is the story of Laurel Shelton and her war-damaged brother Hank, who live on land that the locals believe is cursed. Everything changes when Laurel comes upon a mysterious stranger in the woods, who she saves from a near-fatal accident. “Rash throws a big shadow now,” says Daniel Woodrell, “and it’s only going to get bigger and soon.” (Bill)

coverFarther Away: Essays by Jonathan Franzen: From Franzen, a collection of essays and speeches written primarily in the last five years. The title essay generated considerable attention when it appeared in The New Yorker in April. In it, Franzen told of his escape to a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific following the suicide of his friend David Foster Wallace. Two pieces in the collection—“On Autobiographic Fiction” and “Comma-Then”—have never been published before. Others focus on environmental devastation in China, bird poachers in Cyprus, and the way technology has changed the way people express intimate feelings to each other. (Kevin)

coverImmobility by Brian Evenson: Genre-bender Evenson (Fugue State, Contagion) returns with an inventive mystery centering around a brilliant detective wasting away from an incurable disease and, consequently, frozen in suspended animation for years. Thawed out by a mysterious man, he must solve an important case with enormous stakes, and he must do it all in time to be frozen again before his disease kills him. There’s little information out there on this book, but he has described it as “another weird noir.” (Patrick)

coverThe Secret of Evil by Roberto Bolaño: Published in 2007 as El Secreto del Mal, The Secret of Evil is a collection of short stories and essays culled posthumously from Roberto Bolaño’s archives. Due this April, the collection joins the steady torrent of Bolaño material that has been translated and published since his death. The stories revisit characters from The Savage Detectives and Nazi Literature in the Americas, and feature other members of Bolaño’s now familiar cast. Some have argued that the embarrassment of posthumous Bolaño riches has occasionally bordered on, well, the embarrassing, but Bolaño’s English-language readers hope for the best. (Lydia)

coverAs Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 by Susan Sontag: Susan Sontag said that her books “are not a means of discovering who I am … I’ve never fancied the ideology of writing as therapy or self-expression.” Despite her dismissal of the personal in her own writing, Sontag’s life has become a subject of cultural obsession. The first volume of her journals captivated readers with tales of youthful cultivation, spiced with reading lists, trysts, and European adventures. In the interim since, we’ve fed on reflections like Sigrid Nunez’s Sempre Susan and Phillip Lopate’s Notes on Sontag. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, Sontag’s second volume of journals, picks up in 1964, the year of “Notes on Camp” (which also marked her debut in the Partisan Review) and follows as she establishes herself as an intellect to reckon with. (Anne)

coverHHhH by Laurent Binet: Winner of the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, Laurent Binet’s first novel was recommended to me by a Frenchwoman as an alternative to Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones or William H. Gass’ The Tunnel. In fact, it sounds like a blend of the two. It concerns the assassination of Hitler’s henchman Reinhard Heydrich – and a writer’s attempt to navigate the straits of writing about the Holocaust. (Garth)

Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1964-2001 by W.G. Sebald. This collection was published last November in the UK to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Sebald’s death. Translated and edited by Iain Galbraith, it brings together much of his previously uncollected and unpublished poetry. Writing in The Guardian, Andrew Motion cautioned against seeing these poems as having been “written in the margins” of the novels. The collection, he wrote, “turns out to be a significant addition to Sebald’s main achievement–full of things that are beautiful and fascinating in themselves, and which cast a revealing light on the evolution and content of his prose.” (Mark)

coverWish You Were Here by Graham Swift: With promising reviews from The UK — “… an exemplary tour guide of unknown English lives, a penetrating thinker, a wonderful writer of dialogue and description, a nimble craftsman” (The Telegraph), “ quietly commanding… burns with a sombre, steady rather than a pyrotechnic flame” (The Independent) — Swift’s ninth novel signals a return to the themes of his 1996 Man Booker prize winning Last Orders: Wish You Were Here chronicles a man’s journey to Iraq, in 2006, to collect his estranged soldier brother’s body, and examines the resurfacing of a both personal and international history. (Emily K.)

coverParis, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin: In the grand expatriate tradition, Baldwin went to Paris looking for la vie en rose and found himself in a McDonald’s. The editor of The Morning News and author of You Lost Me There moved his family to Paris for a copywriting job and soon learned that it’s not all croissants and cathedrals. Learning to live with constant construction, the oddities of a French office, the omnipresence of American culture, and his own inability to speak French, Baldwin loses his dream of Paris but finds a whole new reality to fall in love with. (Janet)

coverThe Hunger Angel by Herta Muller: Nobel winner Herta Müller has written a novel about a young man in a Soviet labor camp in 1945. Müller’s own mother, a Romanian-born member of a German minority in the region, spent five years in a Soviet camp, although Müller’s novel is based upon the accounts of other subjects, particularly the poet Oskar Pastior. Despite its provenance and heavy subject matter, the novel, which is already out in German, has received middling reviews from German critics. (Lydia)

coverWaiting for Sunrise by William Boyd: Out in April, Waiting for Sunrise, the newest novel from British author William Boyd will take readers to pre-WWI Vienna and on to the battlefields of Europe. The novel follows the fortunes of a British actor cum spy, as he visits the analyst’s couch, meets intriguing beauties, has coffee with Freud, and battles ze Germans. Exciting stuff from the author of Any Human Heart, a Whitbread winner and Booker shortlister. (Lydia)

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens: Perhaps because Christopher Hitchens was writing so honestly and movingly of his illness right up until his death, we were surprised when it came, even though it seemed clear all along that his cancer would be fatal. Hitchens’ essays, in his final year, helped humanize and soften a writer who welcomed conflict and whose prose so often took a combative stance. This memoir, planned before his death, is based on those last Vanity Fair essays. The UK edition is said to be coming out “early this year” and Amazon has it listed for April, while the timing of the US edition is unclear. (Max)

May:

Home by Toni Morrison: Morrison’s latest is about a Korean War veteran named Frank Money who returns from war to confront racism in America, a family emergency (Money’s sister, in crisis, needs to be rescued and returned to their hometown in Georgia), and the after effects of his time on the front lines. Morrison, 80, has been reading excerpts from the novel at events since early 2011. At an event in Newark in April, she read a few pages and remarked, “Some of it is soooo good — and some of it needs editing.” (Kevin)

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: Those of us who gobbled up Hillary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall eagerly await the release of its sequel, the ominously-titled Bring Up the Bodies. In Wolf Hall, we saw the operatic parallel rise of both Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn in the court of Henry VIII. In Bring Up the Bodies, Anne’s failure to produce a male heir, and Henry’s eternally wandering attentions, present Cromwell with the challenge of his career: protecting the King, eliminating Anne, and preserving his own power base. How we loved to hate Anne in Wolf Hall; will her destruction at the hands of the king and his chief minister win our sympathies? If anyone can effect such a complication of emotional investment, Mantel can. (Sonya)

coverThe Passage of Power by Robert Caro: The much-anticipated fourth volume of Caro’s landmark five-volume life of Lyndon Johnson appears just in time for Father’s Day. This volume, covering LBJ’s life from late 1958 when he began campaigning for the presidency, to early 1964, after he was thrust into office following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, comes ten years after The Master of the Senate, which won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. The new volume, which focuses on the gossip-rich Kennedy White House years, will no doubt be another runaway bestseller. (Michael)

coverCanada by Richard Ford: Richard Ford fans rejoice! A new novel set in Saskatchewan is pending from the author of the Frank Bascombe trilogy. The first of Ford’s novels to be set north of the border, Canada will be published in the U.S. by Ecco, with whom Ford signed a three-book deal after his much-publicized 2008 split from Knopf. The novel involves American fugitives living on the Saskatchewan plains, and according to Ford it is inspired structurally by The Sheltering Sky. Ford, who calls himself “a Canadian at heart” talked about the novel and read an excerpt on the Canadian Broadcasting Company program Writers and Company. (Lydia)

coverThe Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger: Freudenberger is famous for taking a knockout author photo and for catching all the breaks (remember the term “Schadenfreudenberger”?), but she has turned out to be an interesting writer. The Newlyweds, which was excerpted in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 series, is loosely based on the story of a Bangladeshi woman whom Freudenberger met on a plane. The woman, a middle-class Muslim, married an American man she’d met through the Internet, and the novel follows their early years of marriage in fictional form, marking Freudenberger step away from stories about young women and girls and toward those about grown women living with the choices they’ve made. (Michael)

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey: Two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey returns in May with The Chemistry of Tears, his first novel since 2010’s much-loved Parrot and Olivier in America. As in Parrot, Carey again stokes a conversation between past and present, albeit more explicitly: in the wake of her lover’s passing, a present-day museum conservator throws herself into the construction of a Victorian-era automaton. If the parallel between the sadness of death and the joy of rebirth might seem a tad “on the nose,” expect Carey, as always, to swath the proceedings with sharp observation, expert stylistics, and a sense of genuine sorrow. (Jacob)

coverRailsea by China Mieville: The British fantasy writer China Mieville, as we noted in a recent career retrospective, is an equal-opportunity plunderer of the high and the low, everything from fellow fantasy writers to mythology, folklore, children’s literature, epics, comics, westerns, horror, Kafka and Melville. Never has his kinship with Melville been more apparent than in his new young adult novel, Railsea, in which a character named Sham Yes ap Soorap rides a diesel locomotive under the command of a captain obsessed with hunting down the giant ivory-colored mole, Mocker-Jack, that snatched off her arm years ago. Fans of Mieville’s previous YA novel, Un Lun Dun, should brace themselves for another whiplash ride. (Bill)

coverA Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava: Is self-publishing the new publishing? Not yet. Still, De La Pava’s audacious debut, called “one of the best and most original novels” of the last decade by Open Letters Monthly and subsequently heralded by the blogosphere, may upend some assumptions. This one began life as a self-publication, and though many self-published authors seem to feel they’ve written masterpieces, this might be the real thing. It’s simultaneously a Melvillean tour of the criminal justice system, a caper novel, and a postmodern tour de force. Now that University of Chicago press is reissuing it, heavy-hitting critics like Steven Moore are starting to take notice. (Garth)

coverThe Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel: This spring brings a third, dazzling novel from our very own Emily St. John Mandel. It’s 2009, and disgraced journalist Gavin Sasaki, “former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives and otherwise at loose ends,” returns to his native Florida where he gets embroiled in the mystery of an ex-girlfriend and her missing daughter—who looks a lot like Gavin. The Lola Quartet has garnered high praise from booksellers like Joe Eichman of Tattered Cover, who says, “This sad, yet sublime, novel should bring Emily St. John Mandel a widespread readership.” (Edan)

coverThe Lower River by Paul Theroux: Theroux’s latest is about sixty-year-old Ellis Hock who retreats to Malawi, where he spent four Edenic years in the Peace Corps, after his wife leaves him and his life unravels back home in Medford, Massachusetts. The book appeared first as a short story in The New Yorker in 2009. In it Theroux returns to a theme he’s mined so successfully throughout his prolific career—the allure of ex-pat life, and the perils of living as an outsider in a foreign country. (Kevin)

Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ben Fountain: In this follow-up to his PEN/Hemingway award-winning short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, Fountain delivers a satirical novel about a 19-year-old soldier from Texas, home on leave and, along with his army squad, a guest of honor at a Dallas Cowboys game. Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn, calls it “A Catch-22 of the Iraq War.” Here’s a more in-depth description of the novel. (Edan)

Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif: Booker longlister Mohammed Hanif wrote Our Lady of Alice Bhatti on the heels of his celebrated debut novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes. His second novel, also set in Pakistan, tells the story of Alice Bhatti, a spirited crypto-Christian nurse of lowly origins who works at the Karachi Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments and endures all manner of indignities at the hands of her colleagues and compatriots. Part absurd and unfortunate love story (between the titular Alice and a body-builder ruffian), part searing social commentary from a promising writer. (Lydia)

In One Person by John Irving: Irving returns to first-person voice for the first time since A Prayer for Owen Meany to tell the story of a lonely bisexual man working hard to make his life “worthwhile.” The story is told retrospectively as the man, approaching 70, reflects on his life and his early years growing up in a small Vermont town in the 1950s. The novel is being described as Irving’s “most political novel” since The Cider House Rules. (Kevin)

June:

The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa: This historical novel by the Nobel Laureate “sits in the tradition of Vargas Llosa’s major novels […] in its preoccupation with political issues and its international scope,” according to Faber, who released it in Spanish this past fall. The Dream of the Celt explores the life of Irish revolutionary Sir Roger Casement, who was knighted by the British Crown in 1911, hanged five years later for treason, and disgraced as a sexual deviant during his trial. His crime: mobilizing public opinion against colonialism by exposing slavery and abuses in the Congo and Peru to the world. At a lecture, Vargas Llosa said that Casement made for a “fantastic character for a novel” — if for no other reason than the influence he had on the eponymous dark view that filled his friend Joseph Conrad’s own best-known novel. (Sonya)

coverThe Red House by Mark Haddon: Early reviews tell us that Mark Haddon’s The Red House renders modern family life as a puzzling tragicomedy. Enough said for this reader, but here’s a little more to entice the rest of you: a brother invites his estranged sister and her family to spend a week with him, his new wife and stepdaughter, at a vacation home in the English countryside. Told through shifting points of view, The Red House is “a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires” with the stage set “for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.” Just what we all need (a little catharsis, anyone?) after the holidays. (Sonya)

coverHow Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti: In spite of its name, Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? is neither etiquette book, self-help manual, nor philosophical tract. It’s a novel and yet it’s a novel in the way that reality TV shows are fictions, with Heti as the narrator and her friends as the cast of supporting characters (even some of their conversations have been transcribed). With the Toronto art scene as the backdrop, Heti ponders big questions by way of contemporary obsessions–genius, celebrity, blow jobs, what is the difference between brand and identity, how is a story told? Read an excerpt (via n+1) to whet your appetite. (Anne)

coverBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: Jess Walter’ 2009 novel The Financial Lives of the Poets is one of the funniest books ever written about the assisted suicide of the newspaper business. His sixth novel, Beautiful Ruins, unfolds in 1962 when a young Italian innkeeper, gazing at the Ligurian Sea, has a vision: a gorgeous blonde woman is approaching in a boat. She’s an American movie starlet. And she’s dying. Fast forward to today, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a Hollywood studio’s back lot searching for the mystery woman he last saw at his seaside inn half a century ago. The publisher promises a “rollercoaster” of a novel, which is the only kind Jess Walter knows how to write. (Bill)

New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and their Families by Colm Tóibín: Family has always been a presiding theme in Colm Tóibín’s fiction. With this forthcoming essay collection, he explores discusses its centrality in the lives and work of other writers. There are pieces on the relationship between W.B. Yeats and his father, Thomas Mann and his children, J.M. Synge and his mother, and Roddy Doyle and his parents. The collection also contains discussions of the importance of aunts in the nineteenth century English novel and the father-son relationship in the writing of James Baldwin and Barack Obama. (Mark)

coverSoul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays by Denis Johnson: Johnson is, of course, best known for beloved and award-winning fiction like Jesus’ Son and Tree of Smoke, but he also spent a decade (2000-2010) as the playwright in residence for the Campo Santo Theatre Company in San Francisco, a relationship that began when the theater staged two stories from Jesus’ Son. While there, he wrote six plays that premiered at the theater, two of which are collected here. Soul of a Whore is about the Cassandras, a classicly Johnson-esque family of misfits and outcasts, while Purvis is about the real FBI agent Melvin Purvis who went after John Dillinger and Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd. (Max)

July:

Broken Harbor by Tana French: According to this goodreads interview with the author, Broken Harbor will be the fourth book in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series; this time it’s Scorcher Kennedy–a minor character from Faithful Place–whose story takes center stage. On Irish writer Declan Burke’s blog, French summarizes the premise this way: “A family has been attacked and the father and two children are dead, the mother’s in intensive care and Scorcher, who is still not one hundred per cent back in everyone’s good books after making a mess of the case in Faithful Place, has been assigned this case with his rookie partner.” (Edan)

A Million Heavens by John Brandon: Brandon’s first two novels — Arkansas and Citrus County — both focused on criminals, but with his third he turns his attention to a comatose piano prodigy. Lying in a hospital bed in New Mexico, he is visited by his father while a band of strangers assemble outside, vigilants for whom he is an inspiration, an obsession, or merely something to do. Watched from afar by a roaming wolf and a song-writing angel, Brandon’s collection of the downtrodden and the hopeful become a community. (Janet)

coverOffice Girl by Joe Meno: At a glance, Joe Meno’s Office Girl might seem like something you’d want to skip: there’s the title, which calls to mind the picked-over genre of office dramedy, with its feeble gestures of protest beneath fluorescent lights. The doe-eyed specter of Zooey Deschanel somehow also looms. But you’d be wrong to dismiss anything by Meno, author of The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned, and The Boy Detective Fails. His latest promises to return us to a postcollegiate moment when a simple sideways glance can reveal the fallacy of our dreams—and how we stubbornly choose to focus instead on the narrowing path ahead. (Jacob)

Mother and Child by Carole Maso: Carole Maso houses beautiful American sentences in unusual, experimental structures – her masterwork, AVA, is an underground staple. The forthcoming Mother & Child is apparently a collection of linked short-shorts, whose two protagonists are, one has to figure, mother and child. (Garth)

You & Me by Padgett Powell: Padgett Powell’s eighth work of fiction is a novel called You & Me that consists of a conversation between two middle-aged men sitting on a porch chewing on such gamey topics as love and sex, how to live and die well, and the merits of Miles Davis, Cadillacs and assorted Hollywood starlets. Since his 1984 debut, Edisto, Powell has won comparisons to Faulkner and Twain for his ability to bottle the molasses-and-battery-acid speech of his native South. One early reader has described You & Me as “a Southern send-up of Waiting for Godot.” Which is high praise indeed for Samuel Beckett. (Bill)

Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu: A short story collection from the author of the highly praised debut novel How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, involving a computer-generated landscape, a zombie that appears—inconveniently—during a big-box store employee’s graveyard shift, a company that outsources grief for profit (“Don’t feel like having a bad day? Let someone else have it for you”), and the difficulty of asking one’s coworker out on a date. (Emily M.)

August:

Lionel Asbo: The State of England by Martin Amis: Martin Amis is dedicating his new novel to his friend Christopher Hitchens, who died in December at 62 after a much-publicized battle with cancer. Amis’s title character is a skinhead lout who wins the lottery while in prison, and a publishing source tells the Independent on Sunday that the novel is “a return to form” that is by turns “cynical, witty, flippant, cruel and acutely observed.” Among the plump targets of this dark satirist are the British press and a society in thrall to sex and money. Sounds like we’re in for a straight shot of 100-proof Amis. (Bill)

coverThe Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle: Victor LaValle, the award-winning author of Slapboxing with Jesus and The Ecstatic, as well as the ambitious and monster-fun Big Machine, returns this August with a new novel, The Devil In Silver. In 2009, LaValle told Hobart Literary Journal: “It’s the story of a haunted house, in a sense, but I guarantee no one’s ever written a haunted house story quite like this.” Sounds like another genre-bending delight to me. (Edan)

Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation by Rachel Cusk: In 2001, the acclaimed English novelist Rachel Cusk published a memoir called A Life’s Work, a highly praised – and vilified – examination of the pitfalls of becoming a mother. At the time she said, “I often think that people wouldn’t have children if they knew what it was like.” Now comes Cusk’s third work of non-fiction, which flows from A Life’s Work and examines marriage, separation, motherhood, work, money, domesticity and love. The British publisher says, “Aftermath is a kind of deferred sequel, a personal/political book that looks at a woman’s life after the defining experiences of femininity have passed, when one has to define oneself all over again.” (Bill)

Fall 2012 or Unknown:

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon: East Bay resident Michael Chabon has spent the past several years working on his novel of Berkeley and Oakland, titled Telegraph Avenue for the street that runs between the two communities. Chabon titillated readers with an essay on his adopted hometown for the Ta-Nehisi Coates blog at The Atlantic, which reveals nothing about the plotline but assures us that the new work will be, if nothing else, a carefully conceived novel of place. Chabon had previously been at work on an abortive miniseries of the same name, which was said to detail the lives of families of different races living in Oakland and Berkeley. (Lydia)

Ancient Light by John Banville: Having published a string of popular crime novels under the pseudonym Benjamin Black over the last five years, John Banville returns again to serious literary fiction with Ancient Light. In the novel, the aging actor Alexander Cleave remembers his first sexual experiences as a teenager in a small Irish town in the 1950s, and tries to come to terms with the suicide of his daughter Cass ten years previously. With 2000’s Eclipse and 2002’s Shroud, Ancient Light will form the third volume in a loose trilogy featuring Alexander and Cass. (Mark)

The Book of My Life by Aleksandar Hemon: The brilliant Aleksandar Hemon (MacArthur Genius, PEN/Sebald winner) is reported to be working on his fifth book and first collection of non-fiction pieces. The title, The Book of My Life, alludes to, and will presumably include, his 2000 New Yorker essay of the same name–a short, powerful description of his mentoring literature professor turned war criminal, Nikola Koljevic. This will be Hemon’s first book since the familial tragedy documented in his heartrending 2011 essay “The Aquarium,” also for The New Yorker. (Lydia)

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub: If you spent any time on the literary part of the internet in the past year, the name Emma Straub will ring out to you. She’s a regular contributor to Rookie Mag, among other places, and Flavorwire called her “The Nicest Person on Twitter” (Sorry, Bieber). Her debut novel is about a Midwestern girl who moves to Los Angeles and, at great cost, becomes a movie star in 1940s Hollywood. Straub’s story collection Other People We Married, originally published in 2011 by 5 Chapters Press, will also be rereleased by Riverhead Books early in 2012. (Patrick)

Alt-Country by Tom Drury: There isn’t much information on Drury’s fifth novel, but rumor has it that Alt-Country will be the third installment of tales about the residents of fictional Grouse County, Iowa, where The End of Vandalism and Hunts in Dreams are set. The book is tentatively slated to come out in the fall of 2012. Let’s hope Drury revisits not only Tiny and Joan, but also Dan and Louise, as well as the many odd and memorable minor characters that people his fictional Iowan landscape. (Edan)

Your Name Here by Helen DeWitt with Ilya Gridneff: This long, compendious, delirious “novel” – co-authored with a rakish Australian journalist – should by all rights have been DeWitt’s follow-up to The Last Samurai, but publishers apparently balked at the novel’s enormous formal dare. So the enterprising Miss DeWitt simply began selling .pdfs on her website – a kind of late-capitalist samizdat. Jenny Turner of the London Review of Books wrote a long review of the novel a couple years back that makes it sound like absolutely essential reading. And N+1 ran an excerpt. Now Noemi Press has shouldered the considerable challenges of publishing the whole thing. And if you’re one of the lucky few who has the .pdf already, the money you PayPaled to Helen will be deducted from the cost of the printed book. There’s no telling how many complications are involved in getting there, but in the end, everybody wins! (Garth)





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83 Responses to “Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview”

  1. Morning Bites: Battling Amazon, sexist Sherlock, mystery gold, 2012 book roundup, and more | Vol. 1 Brooklyn
    at 9:31 am on January 3, 2012

    […] The Millions gives one of the best 2012 book roundups we’ve seen. […]

  2. Richard
    at 10:00 am on January 3, 2012

    I strongly doubt that William H. Gass’ introduction to the Dalkey re-issue of The Recognitions is new. His already existing introduction is perhaps the greatest introduction ever written.

  3. C. Max Magee
    at 10:35 am on January 3, 2012

    Thanks for the correction, Richard.

  4. Literature of 2012 | Postertext Blog
    at 10:58 am on January 3, 2012

    […] a beloved or favored author releasing a new novel for all of us to enjoy. Here is an article titled Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Review which features a list of some of the most looked forward to novels which have recently been […]

  5. Marianne Schaefer
    at 11:01 am on January 3, 2012

    Some kind of order would’ve been nice. At least a divide between fiction and non fiction?

  6. Nick Moran
    at 11:47 am on January 3, 2012

    Marianne, the list is arranged by publication month.

  7. Eric Schleder
    at 12:16 pm on January 3, 2012

    I’d been anticipating the Most Anticipated since last week. Even read through last year’s list just to whet the appetite. Love it. Thanks, Millions!

  8. What Book Are You Most Excited About This Year? - GalleyCat
    at 1:16 pm on January 3, 2012

    […] at The Millions, you can explore a much longer list of upcoming books. If you want to add your own book to our list, just follow our Facebook Your New or Upcoming Book […]

  9. Tom B.
    at 1:34 pm on January 3, 2012

    Happy to hear of the next installment of Caro’s LBJ biography, tho’ sad to hear it’s not the final volume. Caro’s not getting any younger.

  10. Steve
    at 1:42 pm on January 3, 2012

    Great list. I’m surprised to see my most anticipated new release missing, though: Steve Erickson’s My Dreams of You.

    Any Erickson fans here?

  11. Steve
    at 1:46 pm on January 3, 2012

    And I’m such a big fan that I can’t get the title right. These Dreams of You. Geez…

  12. Sam
    at 2:14 pm on January 3, 2012

    Indispensable list, as always. Just a note that the biggest novel coming out in January (and probably the best, from what I’ve read so far), will be Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son,” about a North Korean citizen who improbably rises to join Kim Jong-Il’s inner circle.

  13. BookieMonster » What Will You Be Reading This Year?
    at 4:23 pm on January 3, 2012

    […] The Millions have a fairly good handle on the first half of the year… Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview […]

  14. Top Ten Books I’m Excited To Read in 2012 – Confessions of a Book Lush
    at 4:27 pm on January 3, 2012

    […] Millions has come out with their annual Most Anticipated Books Preview just in time for today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and Bookish: Top 10 Books […]

  15. Poornima Apte
    at 5:46 pm on January 3, 2012

    Steve,

    I loved Erickson’s Zeroville a lot. Like you, I am looking forward to These Dreams of You.

    Also looking forward to Glaciers by Alexis Smith (Tin House) not on this list.

  16. Morgan Macgregor
    at 8:20 pm on January 3, 2012

    Isn’t Donna Tartt supposed to be coming out of hiding this year?

  17. Matt Salesses
    at 9:11 pm on January 3, 2012

    The book I am waiting for is Forgotten Country, by Catherine Chung. http://www.catherinechung.com/

  18. Andrew Scott
    at 10:22 pm on January 3, 2012

    So many great books to look forward to, and I always appreciate the “most anticipated” list, but here are a few I would add:

    FICTION
    Debra Spark, The Pretty Girl: Novella and Stories
    Bryan Furuness, The Lost Episodes of Review Bryson
    Natalie Serber, Shout Her Lovely Name: Stories
    Christopher Coake, You Came Back
    Eugene Cross, Fires of Our Choosing: Stories
    Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn: Stories
    Joseph M. Schuster, The Might Have Been
    Chris Hebert, The Boiling Season
    Julianna Baggott, Pure
    Myfanwy Collins, Echolocation
    Jennifer Spiegel, The Freak Chronicles: Stories

    As for nonfiction, I’ve read an ARC of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and it’s great.

  19. Jay
    at 10:37 pm on January 3, 2012

    I always look forward to the Most Anticipated list here at TM. It’s interesting that quite a few novelists are coming out with essay collections this year.

    James Kelman has a new novel coming out in the UK this summer, which is exciting. I think Kelman is one of the world’s major writers in English. Knopf will also be bringing out a new collection by Alice Munro in 2012, which is always cause for rejoicing. And apparently Zadie Smith’s latest novel (six years in the writing) will be ready soon. I believe she’s read portions of it at recent events.

  20. Jon Furgat
    at 10:38 pm on January 3, 2012

    What about
    Four New Messages, Joshua Cohen, Graywolf Press, August
    (http://www.amazon.com/Four-New-Messages-Joshua-Cohen/dp/1555976182)
    and
    Autoportrait, Edouard Leve, Dalkey Archive Press, March
    (http://www.amazon.com/Autoportrait-Edouard-Lev%C3%A9/dp/1564787079)

  21. Tom B.
    at 1:30 am on January 4, 2012

    I read one of the stories in Four New Messages — Emission — and thought it was one of the best things I read in 2011.

  22. chinabookworm
    at 1:45 am on January 4, 2012

    A book that is already out in Australia and Asia and will be out in April/May in the US and the UK respectively is the fantastic Midnight in Peking by Paul French – a murder mystery, history and China book all rolled into one – it will keep you on the edge of your seats to the very end. I strongly recommend it.

  23. Jamaiah
    at 3:24 am on January 4, 2012

    How about Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch and Steve Erikson’s new book?

  24. Yuri
    at 5:01 am on January 4, 2012

    My friend had sent me this link. Very interesting. Shall make a note of the books mentioned here and bookmark the site itself.

  25. The “Santorum Surge” Daily Quinn « The Daily Quinn
    at 9:31 am on January 4, 2012

    […] releases postlude: What books to look forward to in […]

  26. Woolf’s Suffering for Our Sake (via Haddon) « SONYA CHUNG
    at 9:45 am on January 4, 2012

    […] Haddon‘s new novel, The Red House, will be out in June.  I wrote a brief blurb about it for The Millions‘ “Big Preview,” i.e. our most-anticipated-2012-releases extravaganza.  Check it out — it’s […]

  27. Chris Roberts
    at 10:28 am on January 4, 2012

    “The Map and the Territory”

    A tainted novel from the start, it’s lack of attribution. Michel Houellebecq was forced to admit his use of Wikipedia texts in the British edition. It’s bad enough lifting the work of others (Wikipedia being a collaboration typically), but Wikipedia, really? It’s source value is much the same as the quizzes you find on place-mats at McDonald’s.

    The work. Here is a quote from the character Houellebecq:

    “I’m now only interested in the world as juxtaposition – that of poetry and painting”

    In truth, juxtaposition exists only as an exaggerated opposite which cancels comparisons out. There are many exclamations, reflections and assertions in this work that cross each other out. This author, like the bad art he writes about, is all about posturing. In that posturing we find the recidivist ego found in his body of work.

    Michel Houellebecq has failed on all the points of good literature I list below, I am done with him:

    Truth in literature:

    An empathetic ability to draw out natural conversations between characters.

    A continuity in the storyline that is unfettered and, above all, authentic.

    Original interpretation of locale.

    Stylistically divorced from the practiced craft.

    Intuitive reckoning, or, the point at which the author achieves conceptual fidelity.

    On my last point. It is indeed a reckoning where most authors fall short. There is no great writing, only great concepts unrealized.

    Chris Roberts

  28. David
    at 11:00 am on January 4, 2012

    I’m excited for Amber Dermont’s The Starboard Sea in late February. I’m a sucker for boarding school novels & it’s been getting some good advance buzz.

    It’s too bad that Marisha Pessl’s ever-pushed back “Night Film” (or whatever it might be called these days) didn’t make the “unknown” section this time. That was becoming a bit of a running amusement.

  29. Lee
    at 11:26 am on January 4, 2012

    More additions:

    Tom McCarthy’s Men In Space makes its American debut (Knopf, Feb 2012)

    Amelia Gray’s Threats (FSG, March 2012)

  30. Gil Roth
    at 11:51 am on January 4, 2012

    (psst: “100 proof” means it’s only 50%.)

  31. Brooks
    at 11:52 am on January 4, 2012

    I would have loved to have seem the publisher of each of these – but great list otherwise!

  32. Matt
    at 12:49 pm on January 4, 2012

    Excited about a lot of these, the Marcus, Aira, Dyer, Leyner, Keret and Powell in particular. Probably more excited about the Erickson book than any of ‘em. Also pysched for Amelia Gray’s novel, and new stories from Trinie Dalton plus some upcoming NYRB releases: Stefan Zweig, Robert Walser and Robert Sheckley.

  33. Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview « Readersforum's Blog
    at 1:02 pm on January 4, 2012

    […] here to read the rest of this story Share this:FacebookEmailLinkedInTwitterPrintLike this:LikeBe the […]

  34. Matt Jakubowski
    at 2:50 pm on January 4, 2012

    “Awakening to the Great Sleep War” by Gert Jonke, from Dalkey sometime this year, I believe.

    Final part of the trilogy that began with “Homage to Czerny” then “The Distant Sound.”

  35. Links: Time theft. « La Linterna del Monstro
    at 3:56 pm on January 4, 2012

    […] More books for your reading list. This is the stuff that’ll be released in 2012. A lot of it looks finger-nibblin’ […]

  36. Paul Lamb
    at 4:01 pm on January 4, 2012

    Is there nothing firm about the release of Philip Roth’s new novel Notes for My Biographer, supposedly to be released in May? Or is that maybe not one that anyone besides me is anticipating?

  37. New Year Roundup | HTMLGIANT
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    […] Millions has a useful list of books we can look forward to in […]

  38. Joe Schuster
    at 5:33 pm on January 4, 2012

    Two books that I’m awaiting:

    THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY, by Margot Livesey. All of her earlier novels have been brilliant, especially her last one, THE HOUSE ON FORTUNE STREET, and I expect FLIGHT will be terrific as well. Whatever recognition she’s gotten for her work, she’s vastly underappreciated as a novelist.

    THE TWELVE, by Justin Cronin. The last couple of years, we have seen two amazing books by literary fiction writers marrying their talent to stories that fall clearly into genre work, Cronin’s THE PASSAGE, in 2010, and Colson Whitehead in ZONE ONE, and I expect THE TWELVE will be of the same calibre.

  39. Sara
    at 5:34 pm on January 4, 2012

    Can someone do a poetry round-up? Yes, please, thank you.

  40. Jill Shtulman
    at 5:50 pm on January 4, 2012

    I strongly recommend Thomas Mallon’s Watergate: A Novel. It’s superb. Other recos for 2012: Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman and Cristina Alger’s The Darlings. It’s shaping up to be a good year.

  41. gloriawondrous
    at 2:09 am on January 5, 2012

    while I appreciate the time that went into this (truly, it’s a publicists’ dream), I’m trying to figure out what’s the point? I “recognize all of these brands / authors, because they have been previously, and widely endorsed & approved.

    A list that I would have done more than scanned and read closely would have included authors who aren’t published by the big six, or don’t live in Brooklyn, or aren’t being published b.c. of assiduously gathering blurbs and/or participating in the MFA’ification of literature.

    Maybe, for instance, some people of color, or queers, for example vs. what reads like the most conscientious assemblage of entitled and (predominantly) white people.

  42. Today’s Daily Theme from Nell Freudenberger! | Figment Blog
    at 8:01 am on January 5, 2012

    […] enough, her upcoming novel The Newlyweds is already generating serious buzz as one of the most anticipated books of 2012(and it’s not even out until […]

  43. Matthew Salesses
    at 11:19 am on January 5, 2012

    I second Margot Livesey’s book, too.

  44. Assorted links — Marginal Revolution
    at 12:34 pm on January 5, 2012

    […] Anticipated 2012 books, and visual history of financial […]

  45. The Millions: Great 2012 Book Preview « the_bookshelf
    at 2:09 pm on January 5, 2012

    […] The Millions: Great 2012 Book Preview […]

  46. C B
    at 5:11 pm on January 5, 2012

    You missed Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son out on January 10th! I’ve read it and it’s amazing!! I don’t want to overhype it, but it was my favorite book of 2011.

    I think last year’s list looked more my style though. A lot of my favorite writers released books last year. But I’m hoping Donna Tartt will release a new one this year!

  47. Stephen
    at 6:37 pm on January 5, 2012

    1/5 Penelope Lively, How It All Began

    1/17 Edmund White, Jack Holmes and His Friend

    1/24 Margot Livesey, The Flight of Gemma Hardy

    2/7 A.S. Byatt, Ragnorak

    2/28 Peter Cameron, Coral Glynn

    4/3 Anne Tyler, The Beginner’s Goodbye

    4/24 Gerbrand Bakker, The Detour

    5/1 Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?

    5/22 Irvine Welsh, Skagboys

    6/19 Michael Frayn, Skios

    9/11 David Byrne, How Music Works

    Fall, John Banville, Ancient Light

    11/5 Alice Munro, new collection of stories

  48. Jmscher
    at 9:15 pm on January 5, 2012

    No news on the new Norman Rush, Subtle Bodies? Was hopeful it would be on the list last year and thought for sure this year. Is there still no release date?

  49. My Daily Tweets 01.05.12 « memoirs on a rainy day
    at 10:35 pm on January 5, 2012

    […] 2012 book release are you awaiting most eagerly? (bit.ly/vVz7xq) 5 […]

  50. Nick Moran
    at 5:58 am on January 6, 2012

    Hey Jmscher,

    Rush’s latest is slated for a 2013 release date: http://www.themillions.com/2011/10/norman-rush-excerpt-and-appearance.html

  51. Baby Got Books » Friday Links
    at 8:17 am on January 6, 2012

    […] more?  The Millions has an extensive list of anticipated books in 2012.  Start mapping out your year in reading now. (Also:  I love you China Mieville, But I am […]

  52. Emily St. J. Mandel
    at 12:12 pm on January 6, 2012

    Wonderful to come across all of these other recommendations in the comments. I hadn’t realized Erickson had a new one coming out — I can’t wait to read it.

    From a previous comment: “A list that I would have done more than scanned and read closely would have included authors who aren’t published by the big six, or don’t live in Brooklyn, or aren’t being published b.c. of assiduously gathering blurbs and/or participating in the MFA’ification of literature.”

    There are writers on the list who aren’t published by the Big Six, don’t live in Brooklyn, and don’t have MFAs.

  53. BookPeople & American Short Fiction « BookPeople's Blog
    at 4:41 pm on January 6, 2012

    […] novel is the most highly anticipated literary event of early 2012. It topped The Millions list of books to look forward to in 2012. See the short film in a previous post today to get a […]

  54. PEN.org » Blog Archive PEN Weekly Roundup - PEN.org
    at 4:47 pm on January 6, 2012

    […] The Millions previews a long list of books to look forward to in 2012. […]

  55. Marina de Moura Torres
    at 8:54 pm on January 6, 2012

    Excellent blog! The 2012 Most Awaited Books list gives one that delightful feeling of anticipation mixed with curiosity and relief.

  56. Digest – 9 January 2012
    at 10:40 am on January 8, 2012

    […] Build some anticipation in to your reading for 2012, here are the most anticipated releases for the year    //   The Millions […]

  57. L'indiependente Webzine » Brevario Indie: la prima semana calda dell’anno
    at 10:48 am on January 9, 2012

    […] James Franco pare abbia iniziato la carriera di scrittore, The Millions pubblica una lista delle migliori anticipazioni dei libri del 2012 mese per mese (tra cui Jonathan Franzen, Roberto Bolano, Vargas Llosa e Martin […]

  58. Monday Snax « Little Stories
    at 11:20 am on January 9, 2012

    […] Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview. Wow. Apparently, there are a lot of great books set to come out this year. I’m looking forward to reading many of them! (I’m especially excited about Marilynne Robinson’s When I Was a Child, I Read Books.) (The Millions) […]

  59. Huki-Links: January 9, 2012 | Hawaii Book Blog
    at 6:41 pm on January 9, 2012

    […] -Most Anticipated:  The Great 2012 Book Preview.  [The Millions] […]

  60. Murasaki
    at 11:40 am on January 10, 2012

    Oh, dear. This all sounds so…precious.

  61. Michele
    at 10:52 pm on January 10, 2012

    Wow, very comprehensive and much appreciated – thank-you!

  62. The Millions: Great 2012 Book Preview. « cook.can.read
    at 11:09 pm on January 11, 2012
  63. Books I want to read in January and February | Even Owls Pine
    at 10:30 am on January 12, 2012

    […] out this year that I’m excited about but that will do for now. The Millions has a great list (which is where I got these) so you should check it out if you’re […]

  64. New year, new books: What’s ahead for 2012 | The Hispanic Reader
    at 8:57 pm on January 12, 2012

    […] of some upcoming titles by Latino authors coming in the first half of this year. Special thanks to The Millions website, where I got some of the […]

  65. Most Anticipated Books of 2012 | BOOKFINDS
    at 4:12 am on January 13, 2012

    […] The Millions has listed their most anticipated books of 2012 including works from John Irving, Jonathan Franzen, Lauren Groff, Toni Morrison and Nell Freudenberger. […]

  66. Modern Things » Read this.
    at 5:29 pm on January 13, 2012

    […] Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview. […]

  67. Yael
    at 2:38 am on January 15, 2012

    Always such a pleasure to read your preview of year ahead posts.

  68. Mrs Dalloway is on the Landing | dan powell – fiction
    at 5:20 am on January 17, 2012

    […] should free up a big chunk of reading time too. It sounds easy now but looking at this list and this list of upcoming publications for 2012, the real test is going to be when something by one of my […]

  69. Work in Progress » Blog Archive » The Most Popular Stories of the Month
    at 1:21 pm on January 17, 2012

    […] “The Most Anticipated Books of 2012,” The Millions […]

  70. Ten books to look for in 2012: Part 1 | Books Speak Volumes
    at 8:04 pm on January 25, 2012

    […] some “most anticipated books for 2012″ lists (particularly the extensive list on The Millions), I’ve gotten pretty excited about this year’s literary offerings. There are (what seem […]

  71. The Millions - Ramona Ausubel
    at 1:19 am on January 27, 2012

    […] Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview – The Millions, January 3, 2012 Home | News & Events | Contact | Bio | Published Works Site design by Lisa Ericson […]

  72. And even more reading material. « Robins AFB Library Blog
    at 1:43 am on January 30, 2012

    […] Interesting books coming out in 2012. […]

  73. New year, new books: What’s ahead for 2012 - Latina Lista
    at 12:01 pm on January 31, 2012

    […] of some upcoming titles by Latino authors coming in the first half of this year. Special thanks to The Millions website, where I got some of the […]

  74. Interview Mix: Adam Wilson, A Ribald Replacement For The Last Generation’s Pen Envied Men | Matt Corley
    at 2:07 pm on February 6, 2012

    […] he’s a rising star on the indie lit scene. His book, Flatscreen, has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2012 by The Millions and Amazon declared it one of the best books of the month for February […]

  75. Serena
    at 8:36 am on February 12, 2012

    I don’t think there are enough books by men on any of these lists.

  76. The Millions : Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview – Sarah Anne Johnson
    at 9:53 pm on February 21, 2012

    […] The Millions : Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview. Tweet Pin It Posted in Uncategorized. […]

  77. Pete
    at 7:10 am on March 23, 2012

    You’re not Susan Sontag’s better, Garth.

  78. What I’m Reading: In Praise of Lists « Kelly Davio
    at 7:44 pm on April 2, 2012

    […] this January, when The Millions came out with its list of Most Anticipated books of 2012, I felt as though I’d found that treasure trove of books I’d been looking for. No, […]

  79. Book Preview for April, May, and June 2012… « UKIAH BLOG
    at 8:56 am on April 12, 2012

    […] From THE MILLIONS […]

  80. Brevario Indie: la prima semana calda dell’anno : L'indiependente Webzine
    at 11:21 am on May 6, 2012

    […] James Franco pare abbia iniziato la carriera di scrittore, The Millions pubblica una lista delle migliori anticipazioni dei libri del 2012 mese per mese (tra cui Jonathan Franzen, Roberto Bolano, Vargas Llosa e Martin […]

  81. Jennifer D.
    at 12:07 pm on July 4, 2012

    Just a clarification – in the blurb for Graham Swift’s WISH YOU WERE HERE, you note it is about a brother’s journey to Iraq – it isn’t. The story takes place wholly within England, though Jack Luxton receives his brother’s (Tom’s) body in a repatriation ceremony.

    It was an excellent read and one of my favourites for 2012 – so far!

    I love your ‘most anticipated’ lists and how precariously teetering they make my tbr pile!!

    Thank you.

  82. MERDE!
    at 5:34 pm on July 27, 2012

    robbed me of a joyous surprise in ‘the map and the territory’ you turd!!!!

  83. Brevario Indie: la prima semana calda dell’anno | L'indiependente Webzine
    at 10:03 am on March 18, 2013

    […] James Franco pare abbia iniziato la carriera di scrittore, The Millions pubblica una lista delle migliori anticipazioni dei libri del 2012 mese per mese (tra cui Jonathan Franzen, Roberto Bolano, Vargas Llosa e Martin […]

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