New Fiction to Look Out for in 2020

Is your new year’s resolution to read more books in 2020? You’ve come to the right place. Here, I explore the titles that we will find at the top of the bestsellers lists this upcoming year and highlight some literary gems that I can’t wait to have on my bookshelf. From dystopias to historical drama to funny fiction, there is something for everyone.

Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

After the success of Animals, Emma Jane Unsworth is back with a hilarious satire of our current state of self-promotion, social media and the impossibilities of womanhood. Told in narrative, texts, emails, script dialogue and social media forms, this novel promises to be light relief from the stress of second term.

Expected: 20/01/2020

Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride

A nameless woman enters a nondescript hotel room that she’s been in once before, many years ago. The room hasn’t changed, but she has. As she occupies a series of hotel rooms around the world – each of which reflects back some aspect of herself – we discover what has or might transpire in these rooms, the rules of engagement between her and the men she sometimes meets, and the outlines of the absence she is trying to forget.

Fierce, frank and full of dark humour, Eimear McBride’s third novel delves deep into the female psyche. It promises to be a work of profound intensity and an immersive, engaging travelogue unlike any other.

Expected: 06/02/2020

English Monsters by James Scudamore

When ten-year-old Max is sent to boarding school, his idyllic childhood comes to an abrupt end. Away from the magical freedom of his grandfather’s farm, a world of unfathomable rules and arbitrary punishment awaits. But so too does the companionship of a close-knit group of classmates.

Years later, as Max and his friends face down adulthood, a dark secret from their schooldays is revealed, drawing them together in unforeseen ways. Who knew what, and when? And who is now willing to see justice done, regardless of the cost to themselves?

For fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History comes this tour de force novel spanning several decades that asks integral questions about friendship, masculinity and patriarchy.

Expected: 05/03/2020

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Inspired by a teenage obsession with Nabokov’s Lolita, Russell picks apart her themes of love and loyalty and manipulation in relation to the impact of the #metoo movement. It has been deemed a psychosexual thriller that politically engages with crucial issues of our day. Undoubtedly, this dark, unsettling debut will be “the book everyone will be talking about” and it promises to hook the reader with every sentence. 

Expected: 31/03/2020

Hammet by Maggie O’Farrell

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Inspired by the life of Shakespeare’s son, this new novel by Maggie O’Farrell is a story about twins, grief and marriage. For the first time, we are given access to the tale behind the heartbreaking loss that led to the creation of the most famous play ever written.

Expected: 31/03/2020

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back.
But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?
Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.

After The Water Cure was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year, Sophie Mackintosh is back with another brilliant exploration of patriarchy that falls under the umbrella of speculative fiction. This time, she examines issues of motherhood and liberty in a world that is unsettling and utterly strange.

Expected: 07/05/2020

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.
Writers & Lovers follows Casey―a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist―in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.

Described as one of America’s “great literary treasures”, Lily King writes about creativity, inspiration, struggle and love in her new novel that promises to be hilarious, heartfelt and intelligent.

Expected: 28/05/2020

Sisters by Daisy Johnson

Something unspeakable has happened to sisters July and September.

Desperate for a fresh start, their mother Sheela moves them across the country to an old family house that has a troubled life of its own. Noises come from behind the walls. Lights flicker of their own accord. The dank basement, where July and September once made a blood promise to each other, is deeply disquieting.

In their new, unsettling surroundings, July finds that the fierce bond she’s always had with September is beginning to change in ways she cannot understand.

After being treated with Fen and Everything Under, books praised for their lyrical beauty and prosaic charm, we are finally receiving another work by the wonderful Daisy Johnson. This time, it is a gothic thriller about siblings that is set to rival Shirley Jackson and Stephen King.

Expected: 02/07/2020


Featured image: Photo by Janko Ferlic from Pexels.

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