With the new decade nearly upon us we are looking forward to some of the titles we will be publishing in 2020.
In the first six months of the year we have an extraordinary list of novels coming your way, from The Street by Ann Petry to a startling debut from C Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills is Gold. Plus some thought provoking and inspiring non-fiction to sink your teeth into, including Rosalind Miles’s Rebel Women and Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb, and many many more. Here is a handful of titles to add to your 2020 reading list:
by Ann Petry
With a new introduction by TAYARI JONES, author of An American Marriage
'This is a wonderful novel - the prose is clear, the plot is page-turning, the characters are utterly believable' CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
'Ann Petry's first novel, The Street, was a literary event in 1946, praised and translated around the world - the first book by a black woman to sell more than a million copies . . . Her work endures not merely because of the strength of its message but its artistry' NEW YORK TIMES
'My favorite type of novel, literary with an astonishing plot . . . insightful, prescient and unputdownable' TAYARI JONES
New York City, 1940s. In a crumbling tenement in Harlem, Lutie Johnson is determined to build a new life for herself and her eight-year-old boy, Bub - a life that she can be proud of. Having left her unreliable husband, Lutie believes that with hard work and resolve, she can begin again; she has faith in the American dream. But in her struggle to earn money and raise her son amid the violence, poverty and racial dissonance of her surroundings, Lutie is soon trapped: she is a woman alone, 'too good-looking to be decent', with predators at every turn.
Shortlisted for the Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
In Chia-Chia Lin's piercing debut novel, The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and contractor, while the loving, strong-willed, unpredictably emotional mother holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes a week later to learn that his younger sister, Ruby, was infected too. She did not survive.
Routine takes over for the grieving family, with the siblings caring for one another as they befriend the neighbouring children and explore the surrounding woods, while distance grows between the parents as each deals with the loss alone. When the father, increasingly guilt-ridden after Ruby's death, is sued over an improperly installed water well that gravely harms a little boy, the chaos that follows unearths what really happened to Ruby.
With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, Chia-Chia Lin explores the fallout from the loss of a child and a family's anguish playing out in a place that doesn't yet feel like home. Emotionally raw and subtly suspenseful, The Unpassing is a deeply felt family saga that dismisses the myth of the American dream for a harsher, but ultimately profound, reality.
'Graceful and precise' TIME
'A breathtaking novel, full of characters as strong and as wild as the Alaskan landscape they inhabit . . . Chia-Chia Lin is a remarkable writer' Yaa Gyasi
by Rosalind Miles
Rosalind Miles' The Women's History of the World was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and translated into almost forty languages.
Now it is time for a new women's history - for more famous, infamous and little-known rebels.
We begin with the French Revolution when women took on the fraternite of man, then it's off to America to round up the rebels fighting side by side for freedom with their men, before heading back to Britain to witness the courage of the suffragettes. From Australia to Iceland, from India to China and from many other countries, we track women who - often at a very high cost to themselves - have stood up to age-old cruelties and injustices. Recording the important milestones in the long march of women towards equality through a colourful pageant of astonishing women, we chart the birth of modern womanhood. Women in sport, women in business, women in religion, women in politics and women in power - all female life is there.
We end in the present day thrilled with what women have done - and can and will do.
Rebel Women is as brave and as brilliant as its renegades, viragos and heroines.
Edited by Helena Whitbread
by Anne Lister
'The Lister diaries are the Dead Sea Scrolls of lesbian history; they changed everything. By resurrecting them and editing them with such loving attention and intelligence, Helena Whitbread has earned the gratitude of a whole generation' EMMA DONOGHUE
'Engaging, revealing, at times simply astonishing: Anne Lister's diaries are an indispensable read' SARAH WATERS
Anne Lister (1791-1840) was one of the most remarkable women of her time. Fearless and uncompromising, she was
determined to live life on her own terms, both financially and sexually. She wrote extensive diaries in 'crypthand', which
allowed her to record her life in intimate, and sometimes explicit, detail. When they were decoded by Helena Whitbread, lesbian history was changed for ever. This is the second volume of her diaries.
No Priest But Love begins in 1824. After an ill-fated love affair with a married woman, Anne Lister embarks on a journey alone to post-revolutionary Paris, a city alive with political intrigue. Here, she becomes romantically involved with a young widow, a relationship at odds with her social ambitions. Anne's efforts, firstly to extricate herself from this new 'scrape' and then to make a choice between the two women in her life, provides an absorbing sexual and social drama.
'[Anne Lister's] sense of self, and self-awareness, is what makes her modern to us. She was a woman exercising conscious choice. She controlled her cash and her body. At a time when women had to marry, or be looked after by a male relative, and when all their property on marriage passed to their husband, Anne Lister not only dodged the traps of being female, she set up a liaison with another woman that enhanced her own wealth and left both of them free to live as they wished . . . The diaries gave me courage' JEANETTE WINTERSON
by C Pam Zhang
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2020
LONGLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE 2021
A BARACK OBAMA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
'The boldest debut of the year . . . It is refreshing to discover a new author of such grand scale, singular focus and blistering vision' Observer
America. In the twilight of the Gold Rush, two siblings cross a landscape with a gun in their hands and the body of their father on their backs . . .
Ba dies in the night, Ma is already gone. Lucy and Sam, twelve and eleven, are suddenly alone and on the run. With their father's body on their backs, they roam an unforgiving landscape dotted with giant buffalo bones and tiger paw prints, searching for a place to give him a proper burial.
How Much of These Hills is Gold is a sweeping adventure tale, an unforgettable sibling story and a remarkable novel about a family bound and divided by its memories.
'The 19th-century American West is the setting for C Pam Zhang's impressive debut. Rickety wagons, gambling dens, dusty towns and dodgy outlaws stalk its pages . . . How Much of These Hills is Gold breaks the mould [as a] revisionist immigrant fable of the making of the West . . . a daring and haunting epic' Sunday Times
'A truly gifted writer' Sebastian Barry, two-time Costa Book of the Year winner
'Pure gold' Emma Donoghue, Booker-shortlisted author of Room
'Dazzling' Daisy Johnson, Booker-shortlisted author of Everything Under
A GWYNETH PALTROW BOOK CLUB PICK
by Bess Kalb
**I HAVE NOT BEEN AS PROFOUNDLY MOVED BY A BOOK IN YEARS' JODI PICOULT**
**I LOVED THIS BOOK MORE THAN I CAN SAY**NIGELLA LAWSON
A brilliantly original memoir of a grandmother speaking to her granddaughter from beyond the grave, telling the story of her life with hilarious candor and love.
Bess Kalb has saved every voicemail message her grandmother - her best friend, her confidante - ever left her until the day she died.
In this wildly imaginative memoir, Bobby Bell's voice is still in Bess's head. Stubborn, glamorous, larger than life, she gives Bess critical advice on everything and tells the history that made them both. Beginning with her mother's escape from the pogroms of Belarus in the 1880s to the rambunctiously cramped Brooklyn apartment where Bobby was born, it swings through her loving marriage, blazes over the rebellious youth of her daughter and finally - falls madly in love with her granddaughter, Bess.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me are the truths - full of devotion, killer instincts and hard-won experience - that Bess's grandmother tells even when they hurt - and even though she's gone.
This unusual love story celebrates the bond of women across generations and the personalities that live on through grief and love. Told through documents, photographs, and verbatim dialogue, it's a memoir like none you've ever read before.
by Maria Reva
'Bright, funny, satirical and relevant. . . . A new talent to watch!' MARGARET ATWOOD (via Twitter)
'Bang-on brilliant' MIRIAM TOEWS
This brilliant and bitingly funny novel-in-stories, set in and around a single crumbling apartment building in Soviet-era Ukraine, heralds the arrival of a major new talent.
'A comic triumph' GLOBE AND MAIL
A cast of unforgettable characters--citizens of the small industrial town of Kirovka--populate Maria Reva's ingeniously entwined tales that span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Weaving the strands of the narrative together is an unforgettable, chameleon-like young woman named Zaya: an orphan turned beauty-pageant crasher who survives the extraordinary circumstances of her childhood through a compelling combination of ferocity, intelligence, stubbornness and wit.
Inspired by her own family's history, Reva's Good Citizens Need Not Fear takes us from paranoia to tenderness and back again, exploring what it is to be an individual amid the roiling forces of history.
'Luminous' YANN MARTEL
'Outstanding' ANTHONY DOERR
'Maria Reva's enthralling debut of interlinked short stories achieves the double effect of timelessness and timeliness' KAPKA KASSABOVA, GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE DAY