alling all readers, bibliophiles and bookworms. Great news on the literature front: 2022 is set to be a great year for releases. Perhaps you’re in the mood for escapism, in which case retreat into the dreamy world of Emily St. John Mandel. Or, if you're in the market for some hard-edged social commentary, Xochitl Gonzalez and Jennifer Egan’s new works may be just the ticket. Elsewhere, Douglas Stuart and Bernadine Evaristo tell the stories of the marginalised in their fiction and non-fiction works respectively. And there’s so much more on offer. Here is our definitive list of the best books coming out in 2022.
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho
Female friendship is the theme of Jean Chen Ho’s debut novel. Specifically, the friendship between Fiona and Jane, two Taiwanese-American women living in Los Angeles. Told through a series of vignettes corresponding to moments in their lives – first time drinking, sexual experiences, moments of loss – the novel follows the pair through nearly two decades. Their relationship endures distance, betrayal, and ambition, and serves as an unflinching reminder of how childhood friendship can be both comforting and stifling. But through the complex layers of intensity and resentment remains a deep-seated and enduring love.
Out now, Penguin Random House, £14.99, wordery.com
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Xochitl Gonzalez’ debut novel was optioned for a television series (with Aubrey Plaza set to play the titular role) before it hit the shelves. The story follows Puerto Rican-American siblings Olga and Prieto Acevedo, the former a wedding planner to New York’s elite and the latter a rising star in local politics. Their lives are turned upside down when Hurricane Maria brings their mother, a radical activist who left them as children, barrelling into their lives. The novel spans themes of toxic families, romantic comedy and racial politics, even slipping in an extra narrative about government corruption. Gonzalez deftly weaves together the various and disparate threads.
Out now, Little, Brown Book Group, £14.99, waterstones.com
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life broke us, and we’re afraid to say that we don’t think you’ll be getting any respite from Hanya Yanagihara’s follow up novel. To Paradise takes us through three different versions of America: a post-civil war USA, the 1990s AIDS crisis, and a dystopian future. In the first scenario, it is 1893 and the heir of a distinguished family resists unwanted betrothal. In the second, a young Hawaiian man lives with his older, wealthier partner in 1993 Manhattan. Finally, in 2093, society is governed by totalitarian rule as a scientist’s granddaughter tries to find her missing husband. The characters, in their respective centuries, occupy the same townhouse on Washington Square Park, but they are also connected through their doomed pursuit of an American utopia.
Out now, Pan Macmillan, £16.99, waterstones.com
Manifesto: On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo
The author of the Girl, Woman, Other recalls her journey from grotty London flats to Booker Prize glory in her non-fiction debut. Evaristo was born to an English mother and Nigerian father – one of eight children growing up in a detached house in Woolwich. In Manifesto, she recalls her desire to fit in with white friends at school, and the internalised racism she levelled at her own father. Evaristo tells of how bricks were thrown through the window at home and how her mother was warned against ‘producing inferior mongrels’. She chronicles her romantic life, from a long-distance affair with a Dutch woman to a psychologically controlling older partner, as well as the backstories to her published works. A fascinating insight into the life of a modern literary great.
Out 18 January, Penguin, £14.99, dauntbooks.co.uk
Violeta by Isabel Allende
The titular character of Isabel Allende’s new novel has just turned 100, and writes a letter to her true love reminiscing on the upheavals of the last century. She begins on the day of her birth in 1920 – the first daughter in a family of five sons. The ripples of the Great War are still being felt when Spanish flu arrives on the shores of South America, and although her family comes through the crisis unscathed, they must then face a new one in the Great Depression. They are forced to relocate, where Violeta comes of age, later bearing witness to the fight for women's rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and not one, but two, pandemics.
Out 25 January, Bloomsbury Publishing, £14.99, waterstones.com
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
The highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Candy House is set in alternate 2010, where a tech entrepreneur pioneers a new technology that allows access to every memory you've ever had and the ability to share them in exchange for access to the memories of others. In this world, there are ‘counters’ who exploit the technology, and ‘eluders’ who fight for their right to privacy. The story is told through a dizzying array of styles, including omniscient, first-person plural, a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets – a frenetic format which emulates moving among dimensions in a role-playing game, and echoes Egan’s focus on the dangers of technology and social media.
Out 5 April, Little, Brown Book Group, £17.99, waterstones.com
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Emily St. John Mandel’s sixth book takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a colony on the moon hundreds of years later. The novel starts with the exile of Edwin St. Andrew from polite society, after which he finds himself in British Columbia, where he mysteriously hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal. Two centuries later, writer Olive Llewellyn is travelling across the globe promoting a book that contains a striking passage about a man playing a violin in an airship terminal. Their stories are woven together by Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness. Sea of Tranquility is a novel about time travel and metaphysics that also captures the reality of our current moment.
Out 5 April, Pan Macmillan, £14.99, waterstones.com
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
Booker Prize-winning author Douglas Stuart’s second novel is a queer love story set in working-class Scotland. In the hyper-masculine world of Glasgow's housing estates, Mungo and James’ love, forged in a pigeon dovecote, is strictly elicit. Threat of discovery is made all the more untenable by the fact that they hail from Protestant and Catholic families respectively, and that Mungo’s older brother is a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. Stuart paints a vivid picture of working class life, sectarianism, the bounds of masculinity, the pull of family, and the violence faced by so many queer people.
Out 5 April, Pan Macmillan, £16.99, waterstones.com
Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life by Delia Ephron
Delia Ephron’s story is nothing short of incredible. After the loss of her husband to cancer, she wrote a New York Times op-ed on the trials of cancelling his phone contract. It was read by Peter, also grieving the loss of his spouse, who had dated Ephron more than 50 years prior. After several weeks of exchanging emails he flew to see her, and they instantly fell for one another. Months later, though, it all came crashing down: Ephron was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia. Her memoir seesaws between the suicidal lows of illness and the giddy highs of love, all the while talking with clarity, humour, and honesty about death.
Out 12 April, Transworld Publishers, £16.99, waterstones.com
Either/Or by Elif Batuman
Elif Batuman’s 2018 novel, The Idiot, introduced readers to Selin, a Harvard freshman and bookish daughter of Turkish immigrants. Either/Or picks up during our protagonist’s sophomore year: it’s 1996, and Selin is determined to shed her first-year innocence. Influenced by her literary syllabus and worldy peers, she decides upon universal importance of parties, alcohol, and sex, and resolves to execute them in practice. International travel is also on Selin’s coming-of-age-agenda, and she takes a summer job with the student-run guidebook. She is profoundly disappointed when she is dispatched to Turkey, the locus of childhood trips, but the experience turns out to be defining.
Out 24 May, Penguin Books, £12.99, foyles.co.uk