We’ve wrung every bestseller list and piece of analysis out of the year just gone, and now we must look forward. What literary treats does 2016 bring? Which books are we most looking forward to? Here is our unscientific and completely unobjective look at the best of 2016 (according to us, at this moment)! Wherever possible we have included the publication date, so you can pre-order the ones you like and put the pub date into your diary!
Those without an Australian publisher/no Oz release date are listed as “import”, but are definitely still available to order (just keep in mind those release dates)! We will update this post with Australian release dates if and when they’re announced!
I’m about to get stuck into Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa, set over a single day during the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, and Diane Williams’ Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (import, Jan 26), which has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen (I’m sure what’s inside is just as striking). I can’t wait for Emma Cline’s The Girls (import, June 14), about two women caught up in a Manson-like cult in the 1960s; Ashley Warlick’s The Arrangement (import Feb 9), based on the life of legendary food writer MFK Fisher; Sari Wilson’s Girl Through Glass (import, Jan 26), which promises a glimpse into the intense world of a 1970s New York ballet school; and Herta Müller’s The Fox Was Ever The Hunter (May 25), set during the final days of Romania’s Communist Ceausescu regime.
Finally, I’m very excited that at least two, maybe three, of my favourite authors have new novels out this year: Julian Barnes’s The Noise of Time (Feb 1) is about the life of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich; Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (May 1) is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice (honestly, I don’t think we need another one, but if anyone can do it, Curtis can); Jennifer Egan apparently has a new novel coming out, too. Hurray!
There’s appears to be such a great selection of short stories due out this year. The one I’m most excited about is Mark Haddon’s The Pier Falls and Other Stories (import, May 10). Like many of his other fans I still find The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time such a memorable book. I’m also intrigued about Bryan Cranston’s Say My Name (September).
I’m excited about a lot of (possibly too many) things…
Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta (import, March 8) sounds so up my alley that I feel like I can add it to my best reads of 2016 already. Set in 80s Los Angeles, this novel tells the story of two female filmmakers, Meadow and Carrie, whose lives collide with Jelly, an older, mysterious loner who cold calls men for pleasure. Yes please and thank you.
I’m really looking forward to anew book by one of my favourite photographers Nan Goldin called Diving for Pearls. Invited by the Louvre, she photographed artworks of her choice at the museum and, guided by aesthetic and associative considerations, connected them to earlier photographs of her friends and lovers.
Surveys (Feb 1), the debut novel of Natasha Stagg (a senior editor of the fashion magazines V and VMan), looks to be a wry coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of Los Angeles public relations and digital celebrity.
I only recently read White Noise by Don DeLillo and found it so clever and funny that I can’t wait for his new novel, Zero K (import, May 10), to be released this year. I’m also excited for Beyond the Beyond: Music From the Films of David Lynch (import, April 26), a large coffee table book with companion CD about David Lynch’s use of music from his early experimental short films, Twin Peaks and Angelo Badalamenti, to the soundtracks of his recent films.
Two international novels I’m looking forward to reading includes a debut and then a firm personal and Avid favourite.
First up is Blackass (July 15) by Nigerian author A Igoni Barret which promises to be a hilarious Kafkeaesque satire of life in Lagos. A young Nigerian wakes up to find that he’s become a white man with all the associated privileges. Just one thing; his ‘ass’ is still black.
I have to wait a few months for the new novel by Louise Erdrich, LaRose (import, May 10), which opens on a summer day in North Dakota, 1999. A man named Landreaux stalks a deer along his property line. He shoots and misses, but he’s hit something else: his neighbor’s five-year-old son. Landreaux’s close with his neighbors, in part because he has a five-year-old son of his own, LaRose, and the boys were inseparable. Erdrich’s 15th novel explores the complicated aftermath of the death, as Landreaux and his wife decide to give LaRose to their grieving neighbors as retribution.
I’m also looking forward to raising a glass of wine to celebrate the publication of some of our favourite Australian writers including Anita Heiss, Ashley Hay, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Hannah Kent.
Some books I’m looking forward to reading…
The Girls by Emma Cline, because cults (import, June 14)
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie, because squirrels (Feb 1)
Suicide: Dream Baby Dream by Kris Needs, because New York art punk heroes (March 8)
Patience by Daniel Clowes, because psychedelic love story and Daniel Clowes (March 1)
I’m looking forward to Maxine Beneba Clarke’s memoir The Hate Race (late 2016) which is about her experiences of growing up black in Australia. I’m reading Americanah at the moment and am a big fan of Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist who writes often about her experiences as a black woman in America, so I’m curious to read about black lives in Australia. Incidentally, Roxane Gay’s new book Hunger (import, June 14), is also out later in the year.
There is nothing better than trying to plan out your reading year, and it looks like 2016 will be chock-full of goodness! I have been lucky enough to preview two books that I think will be on a lot of best-of lists come the end of the year: Chris Cleave’s brilliant new WWII novel Everyone Brave is Forgiven (April 26), and Alice & Oliver (import, April 5), a forensic and heartfelt narrative of a marriage being dismantled by leukemia.
2016 is the year of great Australian writing. Ellen Van Neerven has her first book of poetry, Comfort Food out through UQP (May 30). I managed to get a sneak peek of an early draft and it has the wonderful voice and startling imagery that made Heat and Light so great.
Patrick Holland’s new novel One (April), has the same landscape that he travelled so beautifully in The Mary Smokes Boys. That is still one of my favourite books. I have the early butterflies about his new book. Ashley Hay has a new manuscript being prepared for publication. I have read an early draft – title still to be finalised – and it is gorgeous. My fingers are crossed for a September publication. Nike Sulway has a new novel, Dying in the First Person coming out May 1. I have loved everything that Nike has ever written. Never a dud note in a book by this local author!
Steven Amsterdam has a ripper of a novel due out in September. I have read an early draft of An Easy Way Out, a novel about euthanasia. It is going to be a book we talk about and remember for a very long time. We’ve been proud to launch Inga Simpson’s first two books, which quickly became Avid favourites, and I have no doubt Where the Trees Were (March 22) will continue this trend!
Georgia Blain has a new book out on March 28, Between a Wolf and a Dog, which looks wonderful and I do love Georgia’s dark, nuanced fiction. John Birmingham has a non-fiction book called How to be a Writer (June 1). If you have ever read his essays you will know how sharp his observations are. This will be a great one for writers and fans of Birmo’s essays alike.
On the international fiction front I am super excited about Anakana Schofield’s Martin John (Feb 24) which was recommended by one of my favourite new authors Lidia Yuknavitch. I am also keen to read the new Annie Proulx, Barkskins (June 1), and the new Don Delillo. A new book by David Vann, Bright Air Black, is due in September. I devour his books too quickly and I have been waiting far too long for a new one!
That should get you started on your 2016 reading list. Don’t forget to get those pre-orders in!