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32 Books You Should Watch Out For In 2017

Here are the books we can’t wait to read in 2017! (Ranked in no particular order.)

Set in past and present rural Mississippi, Jesmyn Ward’s novel Sing, Unburied, Sing follows one Southern family across the state — drug-addicted Leonie’s children usually live with their grandparents but when their white father is released from prison, she takes them in a car and sets off toward the state penitentiary. A portrait of one troubled family’s journey through racism and poverty, Sing, Unburied, Sing speaks to maintaining hope in the face of one’s plight, and the true strength (and fragility) of familial bonds.
Publication date: Sept. 5
Ottessa Moshfegh’s debut short story collection Homesick for Another World comes on the heels of her critically acclaimed debut novel Eileen. In Homesick for Another World, Moshfegh shows off her range with a variety of flawed, unlikeable characters in unfortunate situations — the result is a dark yet humorous observation on the grotesqueness of humanity.
Publication date: Jan. 17
Elif Bautman’s novel The Idiot is at heart a tender, funny coming-of-age story: In 19 year old Selin’s first year at Harvard, she begins an email correspondence with an older student in Hungary, which leads her to spend the next summer in Europe. The trip is a journey of growth and self-reflection for Selin, and one that will feel familiar to anyone who has faced the confusing uncertainties of youth and adulthood.
Publication date: March 14
Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women is a collection of stories about…difficult women: women from all walks of life who are complex, relatably human, and ultimately unforgettable. With empathy and heart, Gay captures the struggles and traumas these women face, speaking to modern love and loss and the intricacies of human relationships.
Publication date: Jan. 3
Gay also has a memoir coming out in June of 2017 called Hunger, about her relationship with body image, weight, and food; her past struggles with self-care; and emotional, psychological, and physical hunger.
Lincoln in the Bardo is the first novel from short story master George Saunders — in 1862, when the Civil War has just begun, Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie dies after becoming gravely ill in the White House. An original father-son tale that expertly blends history and fiction (and even the supernatural), Lincoln in the Bardo explores grief, loss, life, death, and a literal purgatory called the bardo where Willie waits among a chorus of other ghosts.
Publication date: Feb. 14
Helen Moran, the protagonist of Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, is as unique as Cottrell’s voice: a 32-year-old woman, single and childless, is working as a guardian of troubled youths in New York City when she finds out her adoptive brother has died. Helen buys a one-way ticket to her childhood home in Milwaukee to investigate her brother’s suicide, and there must face her estranged adoptive family, grief, private depression, and one very zealous grief counselor named Chad.
Publication date: March 14
Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up follows a 39-year-old woman who lives her unconventional life — unmarried and without children — by choice and on her own terms. But when her niece is born with severe birth defects, she is forced to re-examine herself and what being an adult really means. A raw, honest, and often hilarious ride of a novel.
Publication date: March 7
Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women is a collection of seven stories about the lives of middle-aged men who find themselves alone. Written with Murakami’s signature humor and magical realism, Men Without Women is filled with lonely people trying to find their place in the world or avoiding their pasts, and, of course, cats.
Publication date: May 9
In Alissa Nutting’s hilarious, absurd novel Made for Love, Hazel escapes from the clutches of her tech mogul husband Byron (who wants to meld their minds together with brain chips) to live with her father (and his sex doll Diane) in a trailer park of senior citizens. While Hazel tries to make a new life and adjust to her new home, she isn’t free quite yet from Byron, who is using his corporation’s technology to hunt her down.
Publication date: July 4
In John Darnielle’s novel Universal Harvester, creepy, disturbing home video footage begins showing up spliced in VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut in a small Iowa town in the late 1990s. But things get even more interesting when the video store’s owner recognizes the barn in the footage as a farmhouse in a nearby town.
Publication date: Feb. 7
Jenny Zhang’s debut short story collection Sour Heart centers on adolescent girls growing up in Chinese or Taiwanese immigrant families in 1990s New York City. In seven stories, Zhang portrays the complex inner lives of these young women struggling to come to terms with their identities, bodies, history, families, and poverty.
Publication date: Aug. 1
In Edan Lepucki’s novel Woman No. 17, set in Southern California, writer Lady Daniels hires S, an eccentric young artist, to be the live-in nanny for her sons while she tries to finish her memoir after separating from her husband. The two women develop an unlikely friendship and grow closer together as S soon becomes entangled in the very complicated personal dynamics in Lady’s life, and all of the secrets and lies that surround it.
Publication date: May 9
Pankaj Mishra’s Age of Anger examines the roots of paranoia, hateful nationalism, xenophobia, and racism and sexism expressed online as well as across the world today. Mishra makes surprising comparisons and connections in order to show a pattern to the rise of militants throughout history, one that helps shed light on our present global state of affairs.
Publication date: Feb. 7
Ariel Levy’s devastating yet inspiring memoir The Rules Do Not Apply is the story of a woman who watched her life fall apart after choosing her own life path against traditional rules: On a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, Levy had a miscarriage; subsequently her marriage failed and she lost her financial security. The Rules Do Not Apply is Levy’s attempt to make sense of that heartbreaking tragedy, and an exploration of her grief and resilience as well as the new ideals of feminism in our culture.
Publication date: March 14
In Catherine Lacey’s novel The Answers, Mary, a young woman in New York City seeks relief for her paralyzing pain in a treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, which is effective but extremely expensive — and Mary is broke. Strapped for cash, she applies for a Craigslist job listing called the “Girlfriend Experiment” by an eccentric actor looking for the perfect relationship (which involves seeking out multiple women to fulfill different roles) and ends up hired as his “Emotional Girlfriend.”
Publication date: June 6
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is a collection of essays by Scaachi Koul about the anxieties and despairs of life, especially as reflected in Koul’s personal experiences as a woman of color and the daughter of Indian immigrants in Western culture. Fierce, sharp, and hilarious, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter examines with honesty and irreverent wit the stereotypes, sexism, racial tensions, gender rules, and other absurdities that exist in our modern society.
Publication date: May 2
Note: Scaachi Koul is currently an employee of BuzzFeed.
Set in the near future, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan depicts our world heading toward extinction and torn apart by greed and the violence of war. Earth’s surface is now radioactive, and the surviving humans — who are pale white, hairless, and sexless — live on a hovering platform above it called CIEL, which is controlled by a cult leader named Jean de Men. Rebels seek to overthrow his bloodthirsty rule and are given hope by a reimagined Joan of Arc heroine — a child named Joan, whose mysterious gift and martyrdom will change history and the destiny of humanity.
Publication date: April 18
Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen returns with The Refugees, a short story collection about immigrants and refugees who grapple with identity and family as they are caught between the lands they have adopted and the ones they were born in. Throughout the eight stories, Nguyen skillfully captures the hardship, ambition, and dreams that arise in leaving one’s homeland and immigrating to an unfamiliar country and uncertain future.
Publication date: Feb. 7
Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen returns with The Refugees, a short story collection about immigrants and refugees who grapple with identity and family as they are caught between the lands they have adopted and the ones they were born in. Throughout the eight stories, Nguyen skillfully captures the hardship, ambition, and dreams that arise in leaving one’s homeland and immigrating to an unfamiliar country and uncertain future.
Publication date: Feb. 7
In Lindsay Hunter’s novel Eat Only When You’re Hungry, the overweight 58-year-old Greg searches for his missing addict son, Greg Junior, renting an RV and driving from West Virginia to Florida, the last place he was seen. Along the way, Greg must reckon with his past mistakes and failings, not only as a parent but as a husband and a “user” of a different kind, realizing that his excessive eating and drinking may not be so different from his son’s addictions.
Publication date: Aug. 8
Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West is set in an unnamed, war-torn country in the Middle East, where two young people begin a secret love affair. As violence and unrest escalates in their city between militants and the government, they try to escape, hearing about doors that can send people far away to the relative safety of the West, but at a price.
Publication date: March 7
Doree Shafrir’s debut novel Startup is an entertaining story of youth, ambition, and the tech community in New York City. Entrepreneur and current It boy Mack McAllister is trying to turn his app into a billion-dollar business, while Katya, a journalist at a tech gossip blog, is desperate for a scoop. When it’s hinted that Mack might be working too closely with a young social media manager under him, the scandal that erupts proves just how small their world is, and that there are some problems technology alone can’t solve.
Publication date: April 25
Note: Doree Shafrir is currently an employee of BuzzFeed.
Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko is the portrait of one Korean family through multiple generations, from the early 1900s where prized daughter Sunja’s unexpected pregnancy threatens to bring shame to her poor family until a minister offers to marry her and start a new life together in Japan. Sunja’s descendants live in exile from their true homeland, and face (and rise above) all kinds of challenges, from poverty to discrimination, while establishing their identity and family in a new country.
Publication date: Feb. 7
Mike Scalise’s The Brand New Catastrophe is a memoir about medicine and illness and family: When a tumor bursts in Scalise’s brain, his hormones go haywire and he must adjust to living in the new reality of his life accordingly. Meanwhile, Scalise’s mother has a chronic heart condition and seems to be competing in “sickness” — yet despite the seriousness of the subject, The Brand New Catastrophe manages to be as funny as it is smart about mortality, the fragility of our bodies, and understanding the worst things that happen to us.
Publication date: Jan. 31
Sarah Gerard’s Sunshine State is a collection of essays that offers a deeply intimate look at Florida and Gerard’s personal experiences growing up along its Gulf Coast. Sunshine State highlights the environmental and economic struggles of living in the state — as well as the physical and emotional — while exploring heavy subjects of addiction, incarceration, homelessness, and religion.
Publication date: April 11
Morgan Parker’s poetry collection There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé looks at the many facets of being a black American woman in the 21st century. Through personal narrative and history, as well as both political and pop culture references and criticism, Parker tackles race, feminism, the media, depression, and our current political climate.
Publication date: Feb. 14
Alana Massey’s All the Lives I Want is a collection of essays examining the lives of famous and infamous women in pop culture through an intimately personal lens. Part clever cultural critique and part passionate fan love letter, All the Lives I Want forces us to see ourselves and our vulnerabilities in the legacies of prominent female figures, from Sylvia Plath to Lil’ Kim.
Publication date: Feb. 7
Set in New York and China, Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers follows 11-year-old Deming Guo after his mother — an undocumented Chinese immigrant — disappears after leaving for work one day. Two white college professors adopt Deming and take him from his home in the Bronx to a small town in upstate New York, renaming him Daniel Wilkinson and trying to make him more American; despite their efforts, Daniel struggles to adjust to his new life and the absence of his mother and community.
Publication date: May 2
Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This is a graphic memoir about how the sudden death of her beloved uncle while she was in college, and seeing an abandoned mining town after his funeral, sparked her obsession with ruins. Imagine Wanting Only This takes us around the world to deserted cities and ruined places from Iceland to the Philippines, considering the people left behind, as well as Radtke’s own family history.
Publication date: April 18
Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky establishes Arimah as a remarkable new talent. The stories in this collection are incredibly human and examine the ties that bind us — between parents, children, couples, friends, even places.
Publication date: April 4
Scratch is a collection of essays by both acclaimed, established authors and rising ones on what it’s really like to try to make a living as a writer. Contributors from Jonathan Franzen to Nick Hornby share with honesty what success means personally and the challenges of balancing work, money, and life.
Publication date: Jan. 3
Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem is a book-length poem about a young, queer, American Indian poet who can’t bring himself to write about nature because it feels stereotypical — and, for someone who was born on a reservation but now lives in a city, also boring. Throughout the book, he grapples with the colonial-white stereotypes that associate him with nature, as well as manifest destiny, disenfranchisement, language, sexuality, and his own identity.
Publication date: May 9

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