In our good books

If resolutions are worth making, vowing to read more in 2015 is one of the best. Antonia Charlesworth rounds up what should be on your radar for the year ahead

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The Serpent Paper
Jessica Cornwell
(January, Quercus, £14.99)

The first in a series of three thrillers acquired by Quercus in a six-figure deal. There is already talk of a film deal for The Serpent Papers by multilingual London-based Californian Jessica Cornwell. It’s been dubbed the literary Da Vinci Code, but don’t let that put you off. A feminist gothic thriller set in Barcelona, it moves back and forth between the 1300s and the present day as heroine Anna Vecro (think Lisbeth Slander) tracks a magical medieval manuscript.

The First Bad Man
Miranda July
(Feb, Canongate, £12.99)

The debut novel from renowned filmmaker Miranda July promises to be as weird and wonderful as her already impressive canon of work. Dark and unsettling and hilarious in equal measure, it tells the story of Cheryl, an anxious woman living alone, who’s obsessed with Phillip, a lecherous philanderer, and haunted by the wandering soul of a baby she met once as a nine year old. Her eccentric world is thrown out of orbit when Clee, her boss’s daughter – a selfish blonde bombshell – bullies Cheryl into reality and provides her the love of a lifetime.

A Spool of Blue Thread
Anne Tyler
(Feb, Chatto & Windus, £18.99)

Marking 50 years of publishing, Pulitzer Prize-winner Anne Tyler’s 20th novel has all the hallmarks of the well-loved author’s best work – wonderful observation, intricate detail, nuanced humour and, of course, a family whose shared stories and secrets combine to define them. A cross-generational study, A Spool of Blue Thread claims to be poignant yetUnknown-rgbunsentimental novel in praise of the family and all its complexity.

The Illuminations
Andrew O’Hagan
(Feb, Faber, £14.99)

This exciting new instalment from the twice Man Booker Prize nominated Scottish author is set in Blackpool where an elderly former documentary photographer returns to an old guest house from her past with her beloved grandson Luke, a captain with the Royal Western Fusiliers, recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Their stories and secrets unfold simultaneously with themes of love, memory and modern warfare, central to the timely yet timeless tale.

The Shore
Sara Taylor
(March, William Heinemann, £12.99)

This title from American author Sara Taylor is a series of interconnected stories about a group of fierce and resilient women who inhabit a collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean, where nature runs wild. With tumbledown houses, oyster-shell roads, unwanted pregnancies, murder, storm-making and dark magic in the marshes it traces various generations over the course of 150 years and is a promising debut from an original new voice in fiction.

The Girl in the Red Coat
Kate Hamer
(March, Faber, £12.99)

There is much buzz about this debut from Kate Hamer. Tipped for fans of The Light Between Oceans and The Snow Child, it is a compulsive thriller about an abducted child. Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different – sensitive, distracted, with a heart-stopping tendency to go missing. When she disappears at a festival her mother Beth is unable to accept that she might, this time, be gone for good. Dually narrated by mother and daughter, the novel’s the otherworldly aspect begins to unfold – holding some of the clues to Carmel’s abduction.

The Buried Giant
Kazuo Ishiguro
(March, Faber, £20)

The Buried Giant is the long-awaited novel from the author of 1989 Booker Prize-winner Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, the sci-fi romance adapted for the big screen starring Keira Knightly. Set in a Britain declining into ruins after the departure of the Romans, it begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years. Savage and moving, it is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

Blood Relatives
Stevan Alcock
(March, Fourth Estate, £14.99)

Set in Leeds,1975 – a time of social unrest as well as personal unrest for teenage delivery boy Ricky. He has a lot on his plate – he’s gay and hiding it, and as he delivers Corona pop the Yorkshire Ripper looms large. Following his capture Ricky’s life and the Ripper’s draw closer in this fresh and funny coming-of-age novel from Dales-born Stevan Alcock.

A Decent Ride
Irvine Welsh
(April, Jonathan Cape, £12.99)

In what promises to be his funniest and filthiest installment yet, the Trainspotting author’s tenth novel centres on a familiar character “Juice” Terry Lawson, the misogynist hustler of Glue fame. Out on his own, driving a cab on the streets of Edinburgh, Juice is looking for missing beauty Jinty Magdalen and trying to keep her idiot lover Wee Jonty out of prison. Terrible events unfold and rob him of his sexual virility so he turns to golf as he faces life without a “decent ride”. Welsh promises readers will find some decency in the distasteful protagonist.

God Help the Child
Toni Morrison
(April, Chatto & Windus, £12.99)

The return of the Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison this year will be a thrilling moment for book lovers. Three years since Home, God Help the Child is her eleventh novel and, true to form, looks set to deal with epic themes beautifully. At the centre of God Help the Child, which is about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of an adult, is Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love.
The Wolf Border
Sarah Hall
(April, Faber, £17.99)

Though Cumbrian-born Sarah Hall’s catalogue of work is varied in subject, she continues to explore themes of nature, wilderness and wildness throughout, and her forthcoming novel is no exception. It considers the most obsessive aspects of humanity – sex, love and conflict – within a two-stranded narrative about a controversial scheme to reintroduce the grey wolf to the English countryside and a woman involved with it, Rachel Caine, who faces impending motherhood and reconciliation with her estranged family.

War of the Encyclopaedists
Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite
(May, Hamish Hamilton, £16.99)

A big American novel brought to the heart of the 21st century, this joint effort is attracting buzz on both sides of the Atlantic. It follows best friends Mickey Montauk and Halifax Corderoy, whose plans are disrupted by global events when one of them is deployed to Baghdad. They communicate by editing a Wikipedia article about themselves – their smart and funny updates morphing and deepening throughout the year and culminating in a tragic and poetic document.

The Green Road
Anne Enright
(May, Jonathan Cape, £17.99)

The new novel from the Irish author of the Man Booker Prize-winning The Gathering, The Green Road is about selfishness and compassion within a family, spanning 30 years. Beginning in County Clare in 1980 the Madigan matriarch Rosaleen is at home with her four children. One by one they leave the family home – to start a family, to join the priesthood and for exotic lands. The book culminates in them all returning home for one last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold, as Rosaleen plans to sell up.

The Gracekeepers
Kirsty Logan
(May, Jonathan Cape, £17.99)

Kirsty Logan’s collection of short stories The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales found the Scottish writer hailed as an exciting new voice in fiction, drawing comparisons to Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood. This year she releases her debut novel, The Gracekeepers, about a circus boat in a flooded world. North and her bear live on the Circus Excalibur, floating between the scattered archipelagoes that are all that remains of the land. To survive, the circus must perform for the few fortunate islanders in return for food and supplies. It is a bewitching tales that promises to establish that voice.

A Year of Marvellous Ways
Sarah Winman
(June, Tinder Press, £16.99)

Four years after her bestselling triumph, When God was a Rabbit, Sarah Winman returns to the evocative Cornish landscape to tell the tale of a woman at the other end of life to the protagonist of her debut. Marvellous Ways is 90 and living alone in a remote creek where she waits – for what, she’s not sure. It arrives in the form of Drake, a young soldier who literally washes up on the shore, broken in body and spirit. An unlikely friendship develops – he allowing her to say goodbye, she giving him what he needs to go on.

The Versions of Us
Laura Barnett
(June, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99)

This accomplished debut novel from journalist Laura Barnett caused a scramble amongst publishers. Eva and Jim are 19 and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. David, Eva’s then lover, is an ambitious actor who loves her deeply. Following the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting it portrays love, betrayal, ambition and an enduring connection that wins out in spite of fate. It is chicklit (One Day meets Sliding Doors) but with elegance and quality.

A Igoni Barrett
(July, Chatto & Windus, £12.99)

Provocative Nigerian author A Igoni Barrett was the winner of the 2005 BBC World Service short story completion and several other accolades. Blackass is his satirical first novel. Born and bred in Lagos, Furo Wariboko wakes up one morning to find he’s turned into a white man. His hometown transformed beneath his feet, he finds a world of opportunity in his new identity but, despite the white skin, green eyes, and red hair, his ass remains stubbornly black.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Max Porter
(Sept, Faber, £10)

A debut from someone familiar in the publishing world – Max Porter is the senior editor at Granta. Sensitive and affecting, his novel follows two young boys and their father in the weeks following the death of their mother. In this moment of grief, they are visited by a mythological crow. An antagonist, a trickster, a healer and babysitter, Crow moves in and insists on sticking around as long as they need him.

If by the end of January you are still resolute in reading more you’ll reap big rewards from two major authors who announced new books at the beginning of February. 55 years on from To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee announced the sequel, Go Set A Watchman. The book was written before Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic but lost until last Autumn. It features the same characters in the same fictional town 20 years on and will be published by William Heinemann in July. On the same day Milan Kundera, the Czech author of The Unbearable Lightness Of Being announced he would publish his first novel in 13 years. The Festival of Insignificance will be published by Faber in June and has been described as a “wryly comic yet deeply serious glance at the ultimate insignificance of life and politics, told through the daily lives of four friends in modern-day Paris”.

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