We may be up to our ears in best of 2012 lists, but from we’re standing, the year in books is just about over and done with. It had its moments, to be sure, and its share of big names and shiny new stars like, but now we’ve turned a weather eye on the literary horizon — and we’ve got to say, it’s looking pretty balmy. At least if you like killer short story collections, triumphant returns, and more delicious-sounding novels than you can shake a stick at. After the jump, we’ve listed the 30 upcoming books we’re most excited about right now. Take a peek, and let us know which ones have you counting the minutes in the comments.
Tenth of December: Stories, George Saunders (January 8)
At last, a new collection from the hilarious, wise, and deliciously surreal Saunders, whose last effort, 2006’s In Persuasion Nation, has its own creepy cabin inside our hearts. Already our light in the encroaching darkness, with these stories, Saunders holds the torch a little higher.
My Brother’s Book, Maurice Sendak (February 5)
A full fifty years after Where the Wild Things Are, we’ll be blessed with a final, posthumous book from the luminary (and perfectly grumpy) Sendak. The last book he wrote before he died, My Brother’s Book is a gorgeous elegy to Jack, whom he credited for his love of drawing. We’d better thank him too.
See Now Then, Jamaica Kincaid (February 5)
Kincaid’s first novel in a decade is a deeply felt story of the breakdown of a marriage and the complex interior life of a woman and a mother living in Bennington, VT. The fact that Kincaid lives in Bennington herself, and the parallels between the protagonist’s ex-husband and her own have not escaped us.
Wise Men, Stuart Nadler (February 5)
We’ll leave it in the capable hands of Emma Straub, who told us: “the last book I finished that I can tell you for sure is capital-G Great is Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men, which just blew my mind. It’s really beautiful, it’s an epic American story, it’s about love and race and money and Cape Cod. I don’t know. It’s so amazing. So I look forward to everyone reading that in February and understanding what I already know, which is that Stuart Nadler is a genius and that we should love him.”
How Literature Saved My Life, David Shields (February 5)
Though we had mixed feelings about Reality Hunger, we know we can always count on Shields to force us to probe the edges of the way we think about, read, and even write literature and criticism of any kind. This book is more personal than the former, and at least judging by the title, we think it’s going to speak to us.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Karen Russell (February 12)
Seriously, the word that comes to mind when contemplating a new collection of short stories by the disturbingly young and amazing author of Swamplandia! is: yay. Silkworm transmutation, malleable tattoos, citrus-munching vampires, plus the disturbing surreality of the everyday world in sharp relief. We can’t wait.
The Fun Parts: Stories, Sam Lipsyte (March 5)
Man, the short story fairy is on a roll this year. Lipsyte is one of the most underrated authors we know, a scathing interpreter of modern life and a jolly, self-effacing best friend all in one. You will laugh out loud.
Red Doc>, Anne Carson (March 5)
Anne Carson is a modern master, so we’re thrilled about this continuation of The Autobiography of Red (“in a very different style and with changed names,” of course). Myths are mutable things, but Carson can out-mutate them all.
Middle C, William H. Gass (March 12)
Finally. After almost two decades, the incredible author, now 88, has delivered us what we’re fairly certain will be another masterpiece. Mark your calendars.
The Book of My Lives, Aleksander Hemon (March 19)
We’re already fans of Hemon’s fiction — not to mention his journalism — and consider the man rather a genius, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting his first published book of nonfiction, an incredible memoir-in-essays that starts in Sarajevo and goes just about everywhere.
The Tragedy of Mister Morn, Vladimir Nabokov (March 19)
We cannot understand why it’s taken so long to translate this play — Nabokov’s first major literary undertaking, published when he was only 24 — into English, but then again, we really can’t complain. It may be non-canonical. It may be rough compared to Pale Fire and Lolita. But there is more Nabokov where we thought we had devoured it all. The world just got better.
Z, Therese Anne Fowler (March 26)
Why are we so obsessed with Zelda Fitzgerald? We don’t know. But we are, and will gladly read a hundred novelizations of her life. Especially if they’re all like this one, which lets us into a 17-year-old Zelda’s head. We swoon. We wonder. We read on.
Odds Against Tomorrow, Nathaniel Rich (April 2)
When your job is to parse out the probability of possible worst-case scenarios so that big companies can figure out ways to insure themselves against them, what do you do when a real worst-case scenario strikes? This literary thriller, set in the near future, might remind some New Yorkers of the near past — just look at the cover.
All That Is, James Salter (April 2)
Another long-awaited novel (his first in seven years) from a modern master, this time an elegant love story sure to only add to his considerable legacy.
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (April 2)
Cats may have nine lives, but Ursula Todd has somewhat more than that. In this darkly comic novel, she dies over and over again, but lives over and over again too, trying to get it all right. Could be hokey, but in the hands of the great Kate Atkinson, we’re already hooked.
The Childhood of Jesus, J.M. Coetzee (April 23)
Don’t make any plans for the last week of April. You’ll be trapped inside Coetzee’s perfect sentences.
Maya’s Notebook, Isabel Allende (April 23)
This latest novel is something of a departure for Allende, but we think it’s a good one. A wayward teen escapes to an island off the coast of Chile to record, in the company of a ragtag group of fellow island-dwellers, secrets of her past life.
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris (April 26)
New Sedaris! Must we go on?
The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud (April 30)
In the habitually wonderful Claire Messud’s latest, a quiet schoolteacher falls for the family of a Lebanese-Italian boy in her class — in more ways than one.
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (May 14)
One of The New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40,” Adichie is back. Her new novel is a love story that begins with two Nigerian teenagers and spans years, continents, and those wider spaces not so easily defined.
And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini (May 21)
A new family saga from the much-beloved author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. The New York Times bestseller list is ready and waiting for this one.
TransAtlantic, Colum McCann (June 4)
As its title suggests, the newest novel from the National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin spans continents. It also spans centuries, generations, and that sticky place between two worlds trying to become one.
His Wife Leaves Him, Stephen Dixon (June 15)
Trust a literary giant like Dixon to turn the most banal of subjects (look up, you’ve already read the premise) into a wonder of a book. When asked what the book was about, the author responded, “it’s about a bunch of nouns: love, guilt, sickness, death, remorse, loss, family, matrimony, sex, children, parenting, aging, mistakes, incidents, minutiae, birth, music, writing, jobs, affairs, memory, remembering, reminiscences, forgetting, repression, dreams, reverie, nightmares, meeting, dating, conceiving, imagining, delaying, loving.” Sounds like life to us.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (June 15)
Gaiman is one of our favorites, so like his hordes of fans, we’ll be lined up for his latest. Take note: the signing tour he’s doing for this novel is purportedly his last, so if you want some of Gaiman’s ink on your page, get it done this summer.
Don’t Kiss Me: Stories, Lindsay Hunter (July 2)
We’re already in love with Lindsay Hunter from her first collection, Daddy’s, so we’re super excited that there’s about to be more of her stories in a compact container. Hunter’s stories are strange but necessary, each beating with its own black heart. More people should read her.
Babayaga: A Novel, Toby Barlow (August 6)
Toby Barlow was writing about werewolves before it was cool — in epic verse, no less. Now, he turns his attention to another dark myth with this tale of spies and witches in 1950s Paris. We fully can’t wait.
Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, Peter Orner (August 6)
Orner is another one of those writers (and there are so many) who gets way less attention than we think he deserves. If this second collection shows any of the deft characterization and deep empathy of his first (he also has a novel under his belt, which we read and loved last year), we think we have another stunner on our hands.
Night Film, Marisha Pessl (August 20)
Supposedly, Pessl’s long-awaited follow-up to Special Topics in Calamity Physics is actually, really and truly happening this year. We’ll believe it when we see it, but we’ve got our fingers crossed.
Doctor Sleep, Stephen King (September 24)
This book is a sequel to The Shining — starring a middle-aged Danny Torrance! — which could either be utterly amazing or a complete disaster. We have trust in King, though. He doesn’t usually let us down.
Dissident Gardens, Jonathan Lethem (October 3)
This one’s still little more than a rumor at this point. But rest assured, we are anticipating our hearts out.