It seems unfair, really, given that there are still so many titles of 2015 that we haven’t yet had time to read, or relish, or (in the case of, say, Kate Atkinson) reread. But 2016 is walking up to our front doors, about to knock, about to come in, about to take over, so it seems a good time to talk about some of the titles we are most interested in reading in the first half of next year.
Pulitzer-winner Elizabeth Strout’s “My Name Is Lucy Barton” comes out Jan. 12, a brief, mysterious novel about a woman lying in her hospital bed, talking to her estranged mother. Some people (including the Star Tribune critic) think it overly confusing and murky, and some (including me) found it poignant and moving (and also murky). I suspect that critics will be disagreeing vehemently over this title, so you’d best just read it yourself.
In March comes “The Summer Before the War,” the second novel by Helen Simonson, author of “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.” Like “Pettigrew,” this book is more than just a sweet look at small-town English life; it takes on huge social issues, including the rights of women and the horrors of war.
Also coming up: “The Road to Little Dribbling,” Bill Bryson’s latest book about how England just doesn’t feel like England anymore. Ditto Scotland and Wales. (Jan.) “The High Mountains of Portugal,” by Yann Martel, author of “Life of Pi,” about a quest to find an artifact that might change the world. (Feb.) “The Little Red Chairs,” Edna O’Brien’s first novel in 10 years, the story of an Eastern European war criminal who seeks refuge in Ireland. (March) “City of Secrets,” by Stewart O’Nan, a novel about the Jewish underground after World War II. (April.)
Also: Fiction by Jhumpa Lahiri, Don Delillo, Curtis Sittenfeld, Tracy Chevalier and Chris Cleave; nonfiction by Timothy Egan, Annie Dillard, Skip Hollandsworth and Harold Blum; memoirs by Lee Smith and Augusten Burroughs.
And let us not forget the exciting lineup of books by some of our most beloved Minnesota authors.
In April, Candlewick will publish Kate DiCamillo’s novel “Raymie Nightingale,” the story of a 10-year-old girl who enters the Miss Central Florida Tire competition in order to get her father back.
Kao Kalia Yang’s memoir about her father, “The Song Poet,” will be published by Henry Holt in May.
Cheri Register’s “The Big Marsh” pubs in May as well: the nonfiction account of a patch of southern Minnesota land, and how it has changed between her grandfather’s day and hers.
“LaRose,” a novel by Louise Erdrich, also comes out in May; it’s the story of a North Dakota man who accidentally shoots his neighbor’s young son and then gives his own son in atonement.
And Peter Geye’s latest novel, “Wintering” — set in northern Minnesota — publishes in June from Alfred A. Knopf.
June? That’s far enough. There’s more to tell you, but it’s cold and dark outside, and I don’t want to look past summer. Let us just linger in June, and get some reading done.