Kirkus Reviews: Fiction Editor Laurie Muchnick’s My Own Most-Anticipated List
One of my most treasured possessions is a list of all the books I’ve read for the past 30 years, written chronologically in a blank book I won in a high school essay contest. Every January, I print the new year at the top of the next blank page and think about all the books I’m looking forward to reading in the coming months.
This year, there are new books by writers I’ve enjoyed in the past, such as Perfect Little World (Jan. 24) by Kevin Wilson, author of the entrancing Family Fang; Always Happy Hour (Jan. 10), a book of short stories by Mary Miller, whose road-trip novel, The Last Days of California, was one of the pleasures of 2014; and All Grown Up (March 7) by Jami Attenberg, author of one of the funniest family stories I know, The Middlesteins, which Kirkus called “a sharp-tongued, sweet-natured masterpiece of Jewish family life.”
Mohsin Hamid wrote his last novel, How to Get Rich in Rising Asia, in a daring second-person narrative voice; I can’t wait to see what he does in his new one, Exit West (March 7). Barbara Gowdy is a Canadian novelist who isn’t as well-known in the U.S.; in novels such as Mr. Sandman and The Romantic, she used what Kirkus called “dark humor and wry compassion” to explore the lives of people who proudly call themselves “freaks.” Her new novel, Little Sister (May 23), is her first in 10 years. I have happy memories of reading Sarah Dunn’s first novel, The Big Love, a sort-of post–Bridget Jones story of a single woman in Philadelphia, so I’m looking forward to her new one, The Arrangement (March 21). George Saunders is known for his playful short stories; our review calls his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (Jan. 3), “an exhilarating change of pace.”
Then there are books by authors I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t yet: The Patriots (Jan. 24) by Sana Krasikov; Pachinko (Feb. 7) by Min Jin Lee; The Night Ocean (March 7) by Paul La Farge; Ill Will(March 7) by Dan Chaon. And first novels: Lucky Boy (Jan. 10) by Shanthi Sekaran; The Futures (Jan. 17) by Anna Pitoniak; Marlena(April 4) by Julie Buntin. Looking ahead to the fall, both Alice McDermott and Jeffrey Eugenides have so-far-untitled books coming out—a novel for McDermott and short stories for Eugenides. Doesn’t look like I’ll run out of things to read any time soon. Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.