Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Book Releases of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Topics:

January 7: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020
January 14: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019 (these could be books, authors, blogs, websites, apps, products, etc.)
January 21: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf
January 28: Book Cover Freebie (choose what kind(s) of covers you want to talk about: prettiest, most unique, most misleading, weirdest, most memorable, creepiest, ugliest, etc.)

Looking ahead to 2020 and with a little research required, my list includes three big names, which I previously mentioned on my post 2019: A Year in Books. I’ve also relied heavily on The Guardian’s very handy literary calendar!

So, the list but this time chronologically.

January

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Chatto & Windus)

Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality cop shows, thinks he’s smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job).

When a boy at school goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from episodes of Police Patrol to find him. With Pari and Faiz by his side, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the sprawling Indian city; the bazaar at night, and even the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. But kids continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth.

February

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Hamish Hamilton)

Hiram Walker is born into bondage on a Virginia plantation. But he is also born gifted with a mysterious power that he won’t discover until he is almost a man, when he risks everything for a chance to escape. One fateful decision will carry him away from his makeshift plantation family – his adoptive mother, Thena, a woman of few words and many secrets, and his beloved, angry Sophia – and into the covert heart of the underground war on slavery.

Hidden amidst the corrupt grandeur of white plantation society, exiled as guerrilla cells in the wilderness, buried in the coffin of the deep South and agitating for utopian ideals in the North, there exists a widespread network of secret agents working to liberate the enslaved. Hiram joins their ranks and learns fast but in his heart he yearns to return to his own still-enslaved family, to topple the plantation that was his first home. But to do so, he must first master his unique power and reclaim the story of his greatest loss.

Propulsive, transcendent and blazing with truth, The Water Dancer is a story of oppression and resistance, separation and homecoming. Ta-Nehisi Coates imagines the covert war of an enslaved people in response to a generations-long human atrocity – a war for the right to life, to kin, to freedom.

Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride (Faber)

At the mid-point of her life a woman enters an Avignon hotel room. She’s been here once before – but while the room hasn’t changed, she is a different person now.

Forever caught between check-in and check-out, she will go on to occupy other hotel rooms, from Prague to Oslo, Auckland to Austin, each as anonymous as the last, but bound by rules of her choosing. There, amid the detritus of her travels, the matchbooks, cigarettes, keys and room-service wine, she will negotiate with memory, with the men she sometimes meets, and with what it might mean to return home.

March

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate)

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

Surely the most anticipated book of the year – more so than Atwood’s The Testaments.

The City We Became by NK Jemisin (Orbit)

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

April

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (Cape)

While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body”. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to area, having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband, and she knows very few people. And she’s a little shaky even on best days. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But as we follow her in her investigation, strange dissonances start to accrue, and our faith in her grip on reality weakens, until finally, just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past with her late husband, we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home.

A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, ‘Death in Her Hands’ asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both guide us closer to the truth and keep us at bay from it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, only this time the stakes have never been higher.

I currently have this one queued up to read as an ARC!

May

Burn by Patrick Ness (Walker)

Since A Monster Calls and the Chaos Walking trilogy, anything by Partick Ness is always going to be on my wishlist… and adding dragons into the mix? Oh Boy! Only another five months!

An all-consuming story of revenge, redemption and dragons from the twice Carnegie Medal-winner Patrick Ness.

In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?

June

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Sceptre)

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS, ‘one of the most brilliantly inventive writers of this, or any country’ (Independent).

Utopia Avenue are the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967 and fronted by folksinger Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss, Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief and blazing journey from the clubs of Soho and draughty ballrooms to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success, to glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of 1968.

David Mitchell’s new novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue; of riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs, thugs, madness, love, sex, death, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder. Can we change the world in turbulent times, or does the world change us? Utopia means ‘nowhere’ but could a shinier world be within grasp, if only we had a map?

July

Summer by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

The unmissable finale to Ali Smith’s dazzling literary tour de force: the Seasonal quartet concludes in 2020 with Summer

Sisters by Daisy Johnson (Cape)

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.

Taut, transfixing and profoundly moving, Sisters explodes with the fury and joy of adolescence. It is a story of sibling love and sibling envy to rival Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. With Sisters, Daisy Johnson confirms her standing among the most inventive and exciting young writers at work today.

I loved Everything Under by Johnson: unsettling and thought-provoking and beautiful, so really looking forward to this one.

November

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber)

Emezi is soon becoming one of my favourite authors since reading Freshwater: their portrayal of Jam in the YA novel Pet – which I am currently reading – is just so beautiful and their prose is gorgeous.

Vivek Oji: utterly captivating, complex, mercurial and profoundly connected to those who come to understand him. This novel unpicks Vivek’s tale. It begins with his end, his body shrouded on his mother’s doorstep, and moves backwards through time to tell us the story of Vivek’s life and the mystery surrounding his death. Many will see The Death of Vivek Oji as a departure from Freshwater in that this is a deeply accessible novel suffused with family life and a tragedy sits squarely at its heart, but it speaks to Akwaeke’s earlier work in its call to gender fluidity and the pain of adolescence lived beyond binary constructions of sexuality. As compulsively readable as it is tender and potent, this is a fresh, engaging novel about the innocence of youth and how it clashes with culture and expectation. THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI tells the story of a Nigerian childhood quite different from the one we might expect – Akwaeke’s writing speaks to the truth of realities other than those that have already been seen.

Oh dear, that is eleven… Maths is clearly not going to be a strong point in 2020! And my list was originally fifteen strong and it took a lot to whittle it down this far! How can I lose any from this list?

Gosh! 2020 is looking like a fantastic year in reading already!

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