10 Books for Your Early 2010 Reading List

As The Millions noted in its 2010 book preview, the theme for the upcoming year (and beyond) seems to be posthumous publication: Roberto Bolaño, Ralph Ellison, Stieg Larsson, and David Foster Wallace — the dead gang’s all here! (OK, so technically DFW’s The Pale King isn’t meant to come out until 2011, but we couldn’t leave him out.) That said, there’s plenty of good stuff to look forward to from the living as well. After the jump, we reveal the books that we’re most excited about reading in the coming months — and tell you about a few that we’ve already devoured.

Be sure to leave your own suggestions in the comments.

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1. Monsieur Pain by Roberto Bolaño (January 12)
According to The Millions, Mr. Bolaño has up to four books coming out this year, but we decided to go with this one because it’s about a Peruvian poet with a chronic case of the hiccups. Which makes it a rather fitting lead in to the following…

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2. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris (January 18)
If you loved his National Book Award-nominated debut, Then We Came to the End, be warned: his sophomore effort is much darker, though equally satisfying. The plot centers on a man who suffers from an unnamed disorder that makes him walk uncontrollably — which obviously begins to take a toll on his personal and professional life. Of note: The book has already been optioned by Miramax.

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3. Reality Hunger by David Shields (February 23)
In his blurb for David Shields’ “manifesto,” Charles Baxter compares his style to that of Wilde, Flaubert, and Baudelaire. Jonathan Lethem had this to say: “I’ve just finished reading Reality Hunger and I’m lit up by it — astonished, intoxicated, ecstatic, overwhelmed.” While we haven’t read the galley that’s sitting on our desk yet, any work that explores “the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real” sounds aces to us.

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4. The Ask by Sam Lipsyte (March 2)
If you haven’t read his work before, then we’ll fill you in: Sam Lipsyte’s writing is smart, dark, and hilarious. His fourth book tells the story of Milo Burke, a development officer at a third-rate New York university who gets fired for telling off a spoiled undergrad. There’s only one way he can get his job back: He must oversee an old college buddy’s large donation. If this one doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then you have no soul.

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5. Noir by Robert Coover (March 4)
We often find postmodernists’ work hard to describe, so here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “You are Philip M. Noir, Private Investigator. A mysterious young widow hires you to find her husband’s killer–if he was killed. Then your client is killed and her body disappears–if she was your client. Your search for clues takes you through all levels of the city, from classy lounges to lowlife dives, from jazz bars to a rich sex kitten’s bedroom, from yachts to the morgue.” More confused? Read an excerpt on Vice.

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6. Solar by Ian McEwan (March 30)
If you love this Booker Prize-winning novelist’s output as much as we do, then you’ve probably already got his latest on your radar. Like 2005’s Saturday, Solar‘s storyline is decidedly hot topical; it focuses on a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose work is concerned with climate change. You can read an early excerpt here, courtesy of The New Yorker.

7. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (April 13)
The follow-up novel from the Canadian author who wrote Life of Pi, which won the Man Booker Prize back in 2002. While as far as we know, there’s no tiger in this one (which deals with the Holocaust), there is a howler monkey named Virgil and a donkey named Beatrice.

8. The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (May 11)
According to the Guardian, Amis’ latest “will explore his belief that the apparent freedom of the sexual revolution actually placed huge pressure on women, with his late sister Sally one of its victims.” The story is set in 1970, and follows a group six men and women summering in an Italian castle.He’s worried that it’s going to get him in trouble with feminists. We can’t wait to weigh in.

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9. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (May 18)
We were big fans of Orringer’s 2003 short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, and her debut novel promises to be just as rich and layered. Here’s what Michael Chabon had to say: “To bring an entire lost world… to vivid life between the covers of a novel is an accomplishment; to invest that world, and everyone who inhabits it, with a soul, as Julie Orringer does in The Invisible Bridge, takes something more like genius.”

10. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis (June 15)
This is the sequel to Less Than Zero and begins like so: “They had made a movie about us.” What’s not to love?