Start the New Year with incredible fiction, moving memoirs and more…
2020 is full of incredible new books from debut authors, breakout names and literary heroes – we’ve celebrated some of January’s unmissable reads in both fiction and non-fiction – but here are 10 more titles you need to know about for the New Year. For unmissable memoirs, Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House and Rachel Clarke’s Dear Life are essential buys while fiction from Liz Moore, Angie Cruz, Steph Cha and Maaza Mengiste kicks off a year of must-read thrillers and stories that’ll leave you utterly bowled over. You’re going to need a bigger bookcase…
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Best new books for 2020: feminism, fiction, race and beyond
Welcome in the New Year with 10 brilliant new releases everyone will be reading.
The fascinating non-fiction: In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Last year, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body And Other Parties became one of the most talked-about releases of 2019 thanks to its fusion of feminism and horror (which has also led to it being picked up for TV). This memoir (out 2 January) is no less astonishing as it explores the toxicity of an abusive queer relationship. Drawing on intimate reflections, pop culture, politics and more, Machado writes with such precision and poetry it’s hard not to be utterly blown away as she pinpoints those moments that can cause the destruction of all relationships. An absolute must-read for 2020.
The addictive thriller: Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Described as feminist take of The Wire by its publisher, Long Bright River (out 9 January) is a brilliant and harrowing thriller which explores the streets and people of Kensington, Philadelphia, a neighbourhood destroyed by opioid addiction. Telling the story of two sisters – one a cop, one struggling with drugs – whose lives diverge to tell two very different tales of women struggling against a backdrop of exploitation, unemployment and the breakdown of their community. Beautifully told, this is a book to totally lose yourself in.
An immigrant’s tale: Dominicana by Angie Cruz
“The first time Juan Ruiz proposes, I’m eleven years old, skinny and flat chested. I’m half asleep, my frizzy hair has busted out from a rubber band, and my dress is on backwards.” Four years later, Ana marries Juan (32) in an arranged marriage that her family believes will give her a better life in America. Finding herself in a filthy apartment in New York where her husband controls her every movement, Ana is miserable but is persuaded to stay by Juan’s brother. Then one day, Juan returns to the Dominican Republic and Ana begins to experience just what life can bring. Do not miss this book (out on 23 January)…
A truly moving medical memoir: Dear Life by Rachel Clarke
Dr Rachel Clarke is a specialist in palliative medicine facing up to the reality of what people endure when they only have weeks to live. Her role is to make people as comfortable as they can be but then, in 2017, her own father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In Dear Life (out 30 January), Clarke writes so movingly about what it means to face death, the grief that gets left behind and how hospices do such vital work in allowing people to die being looked after and surrounded by the people they love.
Northern voices: The Book Of Newcastle edited by Angela Readman & Zoe Turner
Sheffield, Tehran, Tokyo… Comma Press has created a wondrous library of anthologies inspired by the character of cities from around the globe. And now it’s Newcastle’s turn as 10 writers capture the spirit of the city that was once an industrial revolution powerhouse and now personifies everything from cultural wealth to modern economic decline. Featuring tales of call centre workers to escapes from the Town Moor (a huge patch of green just outside the city centre), authors include Saltwater writer Jessica Andrews and novelist Julia Darling.
The literary mystery: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
This fun and infinitely readable book delves into one of literature’s greatest mysteries: why did Jane Austen’s beloved sister, Cassandra, destroy hundreds of letters by the writer after her death (thus depriving the world of some more Austen wisdom). Moving between timelines featuring Cassandra as an elderly woman and a young girl while exploring just what it means to be an elderly spinster in Regency England, this is the perfect book to wrap yourself around as the evenings stay dark and cold (it’s out 23 January). Steve Coogan’s TV production company has also snapped up the rights so it’ll be coming to a small screen near you next year…
A story of total suspense: Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Two people, two families and a past trauma that’s about to catch up with them… Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay (out 16 January) has been a huge hit in the US as it explores the under-reported violence that occurred between Korean-American and African-American communities during the 90s. Bubbling with tension and a page-turning narrative, this is the sort of book you need to pick up on a quiet weekend then just revel in Cha’s ability to tell a story and unpick the knotty violence of race relations in LA.
The one we should all read: Six Weeks To Zero Waste by Kate Arnell
It’s time to learn the 5 Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot) as the UK is producing more than 100 million tonnes of waste every year; that’s the equivalent of our own body weight every seven weeks! In this helpful and non-patronising guide, eco blogger Kate Arnell explores the simple changes we can all make to start living more sensitively. Even if you’re already reducing single-use plastic and composting, this book has useful hacks (eating without waste, pets, homemade beauty products) galore to leave you inspired for 2020.
Women’s side of history: The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
In 1895, Ethiopia and Italy went to war and Italy lost (making it the first European country to lose to an African country). Forty years later and Italy is in the hands of fascist dictator, Mussolini, who decides it’s time for revenge and to rebuild the Roman Empire (it sounds nuts but it’s all true). However, what he didn’t count on was the women of Ethiopia moving against him… In this truly original and astonishing read (which has more than a few nods to Greek tragedy), Maaza Mengiste creates a poetic epic that’s unlike anything else you’ll ever read (out 7 January).
The tensest of thrillers: Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
In a read that’s not for the faint-hearted but is utterly brilliant, Rosamund Lupton explores a three-hour siege by a gunman in a snow-bound Somerset secondary school. Moving back and forth in time and from character to character and the politics that inspires hatred, this is an incredibly tense book that gets to the heart of violence, terror and the emotional impact of those caught up in events beyond their control. Written with real perception and beauty, Three Hours is set to be a breakout read for book groups and beyond in 2020 (out 9 January).
Images: courtesy of publishers
Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown