Books·Spring Book Preview

25 works of fiction from around the world to look for in spring 2019

A new year means new books! Here's a list of the 25 highly anticipated works of fiction from writers outside of Canada.

A new year means new books! Here's a list of the 25 highly anticipated works of fiction from writers outside of Canada.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

The Water Cure is Sophie Mackintosh's first novel. (Sophie Davidson/Hamish Hamilton)

Three sisters, Grace, Lia and Sky, live in an isolated mansion by the sea with only each other and their parents for company. When King, their father and the only man they've ever known, dies unexpectedly, the sisters discover that one of them is pregnant. Further difficulties arrive in the form of three strange men, who wash up onshore and beg for help. The Water Cure is London-based writer Sophie Mackintosh's first novel and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

When you can read it: Jan. 8, 2019

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

An Orchestra of Minorities is a novel by Chigozie Obioma. (

Narrated by a guardian spirit known as chi, An Orchestra of Minorities is a contemporary retelling of Homer's epic poem Odyssey. The novel tells the story of a poor poultry farmer named Chinonso, who saves the life of a young woman named Ndali by throwing two of his prized chickens into the river she is about to jump into. Ndali falls in love with Chinonso, but her wealthy family disapproves of his lack of education. An Orchestra of Minoritiesis Chigozie Obioma's follow-up to his critically acclaimed novel The Fishermanwhich was a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

When you can read it: Jan. 8, 2019

You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

You Know You Want This is a short story collection by Kristen Roupenian. (Simon & Schuster, Elisa Roupenian Toha)

Kristen Roupenian's short story Cat Person set the internet ablaze with conversations around consent and gender dynamics when The New Yorker published it in the winter of 2017. Cat Person, the story of a young college student's awkward sexual encounter with an older man, is now part of Roupenian's debut collection of short fiction, You Know You Want ThisThese 12 stories range from the mundane to the supernatural, each exploring different forms of violence perpetrated against and by both men and women.

When you can read it: Jan. 15, 2019

Adèle by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor

Adèle is a novel by Leila Slimani. (Catherine Helie/Penguin Books)

Bored with her idyllic-seeming life, Adèle is consumed by the need for sex. She puts her career as a journalist and life with her surgeon husband and son in jeopardy by indulging in a series of illicit affairs, all in pursuit of an insatiable desire to be wanted. Adèleis another dark and suspenseful novel from French author Leïla Slimani, who released the award-winning thriller The Perfect Nanny in English in 2018.

When you can read it: Jan. 15, 2019

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers is a novel by Karen Thompson Walker. (Bond Street Books/Dan Hawk Photography)

A young college student falls asleep and cannot be woken. As her mysterious sleeping illness spreads to others, the town is quarantined by the national guard and a series of residents tell their stories experiencing the disaster firsthand. Karen Thompson Walker is an American writer whose previous book The Age of Miracles was a New York Times bestseller.

When you can read it: Jan. 15, 2019

Last Night in Nuuk by Niviaq Korneliussen

Last Night in Nuuk is Niviaq Korneliussen's first novel. (Grove Atlantic)

Last Night in Nuuk tells the coming of age stories of five young men and women in the Greenland capital of Nuuk. Fia is struggling with her unrequited crush on an unavailable woman, while her brother Inuk contemplates fleeing the country after a political scandal. Arnaq faces the consequences of her hard-partying ways, while Ivik and Sara face a major moment in their relationship. Last Night in Nuuk is Greenland writer Niviaq Korneliussen's first novel.

When you can read it: Jan. 25, 2019

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a novel by Marlon James. (Bond Street Books, Jeffrey Skemp)

Tracker, a well-respected hunter who always works alone, is hired to find a boy who has been missing for three years. He ends up joining a band of unusual characters, including a 'shape-shifting man-animal' called Leopard, all engaged in the hunt. As they traverse ancient cities and forests and face deadly beasts, Tracker wonders why this boy is so special and finds himself caught in a web of lies. Marlon James previously won the Man Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.

When you can read it: Feb. 5, 2019

Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

Where Reasons End is a novel by Yiyun Li. (Random House, Phillippe Matsas)

Where Reasons End is a conversation between a mother and her 16-year-old son, who has died by suicide. The mother, a writer, searches her son for answers as she contends with loss and grief. Yiyun Li, a MacArthur fellow and 2006 PEN/Hemingway Award winner, previously wrote about her own experience with depression in her memoir Dear Friend, From My Life I Write To You in Your Life.

When you can read it: Feb. 5, 2019

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up is a YA novel by Angie Thomas. (Anissa Hidouk, Balzer + Bray )

As the daughter of an underground hip hop icon who died too young, 16-year-old Bri has aspirations to become the greatest rap artist of all time. But at school, she's considered a "hoodlum" and when her mom loses her job, Bri hits a breaking point. She releases a track that goes viral — but not in the way Bri might have hoped. On the Come Up is writer Angie Thomas's second novel after the runaway success of The Hate U Give.

When you can read it: Feb. 5, 2019

Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa, translate by Leri Price

Death is Hard Work is a novel by Khaled Khalifa. (Bilal Hussein/Canadian Press)

Bolbol, a young man in Aleppo, convinces his estranged siblings to help fulfill their father's final wish: to be buried in the family plot in Anabiya. Despite their father's many shortcomings, the three depart on a dangerous journey through war-torn Syria. Khaled Khalifa is an acclaimed poet, novelist and screenwriter based in Damascus. His 2012 book, In Praise of Hatred, was a finalist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and was also banned by the Syrian government.

When you can read it: Feb. 12, 2019

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Lost Children Archive is a novel by Valeria Luiselli. (Knopf, Diego Berruecos-Gatopardo)

A family road trip from New York to Arizona grows increasingly tense as news of an "immigration crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border breaks over the radio. Thousands of children are being detained or getting lost in the desert, while, in the car, a divide grows between the parents. Valeria Luiselli, a novelist and nonfiction writer from Mexico, has previously volunteered as an interpreter at the U.S.-Mexico border for children arriving from Central America. She previously wrote about her experiences in the essay collection Tell Me How it Ends.

When you can read it: Feb. 12, 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of Daisy Jones & The Six. (Deborah Feingold, Doubleday Canada)

Told in a series of transcribed interviews, Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of a legendary 1970s rock group that mysteriously broke up at the height of their fame. The two central characters of the book are Billy Dunne, the leader of The Six who has a drug problem, and Daisy Jones, a singer with a soulful voice and a gift for songwriting. Daisy Jones and The Six make it big together, but a power struggle over creative control creates tension in the group. Taylor Jenkins Reid, a writer based in L.A., is also the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Film and television rights for Daisy Jones & The Six have already been acquired by Reese Witherspoon, who is producing a 13-episode adaptation for Amazon.

When you can read it: March 5, 2019

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of Gingerbread. (Manchul Kim/Penguin Random House)

Teenager Perdita Lee is in search of her mother Harriet's long-lost friend, Gretel Kercheval. An enigmatic woman, Gretel seems to be involved in all the pivotal moments — good and bad — of Harriet's life. Gretel also worships her friend's gingerbread, made from an old family recipe. As Perdita seeks out Gretel, she becomes familiar with the remarkable events that have shaped her mother's life. Helen Oyeyemi is a British writer whose previous acclaimed books include the short story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours and Boy, Snow, Bird.

When you can read it: March 5, 2019

Minutes of Glory by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Minutes of Glory is a collection of short stories by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. (The New Press/Daniel Anderson)

Minutes of Glory is a short story collection from perennial Nobel Prize candidate Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. The book collects stories from throughout the Kenyan writer's life, including The Fig Tree, written in 1960 as an undergraduate student in Uganda, and the more recent story The Ghost of Michael Jackson. Thiong'o's stories blend the personal with the political, featuring characters contending with large-scale societal forces like colonialism, patriarchy and corruption. Thiong'o's previous books include the memoir Wrestling with the Devil and novel A Grain of Wheat.

When you can read it: March 5, 2019

The Parade by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers is the author of The Parade. (Knopf/

After 10 years at war, an unnamed country decides to celebrate peace by constructing a new road between the state's two halves. Two foreign contractors are hired to complete the highway: one is an impulsive man with an affinity for the local nightlife, and the other is a consummate worker who heads home at the end of the day. From these opposing perspectives, Dave Eggers explores the complexities around the interference of foreign entities in another nation's conflicts. Eggers most recently published The Monk of Mokha and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

When you can read it: March 19, 2019 by Nathan Englander is a novel by Nathan Englander. (Joshua Meier/Knopf)

After the death of his father, Larry faces demands from his orthodox Memphis Jewish family to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for 11 months. But Larry is an atheist, so instead he finds a stranger through to do it for him. Nathan Englander, a writer based in New York, is the author of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.

When you can read it: March 26, 2019

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People is a novel by Sally Rooney. (Jonny L Davies)

Normal People follows the lives of Connell Waldron, a popular football star from a poor family, and Marianne Sheridan, a teenage outcast from a wealthy background. Despite being opposites in many ways, Connell and Marianne form a lifelong friendship, straying in and out of romance along the way. Irish writer Sally Rooney's sophomore novel won the 2018 Costa Novel Award and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

When you can read it: April 16, 2019

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Machines Like Me is a novel by Ian McEwan. (Knopf Canada, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert)

Machines Like Me takes place in an alternate version of London of the 1980s, where the first synthetic humans have been created and are available for a significant price. Charlie, a lazy young man who is in love with a troubled woman named Miranda, purchases a synthetic being called Adam and tweaks his personality. Both Charlie and Miranda become enamoured of Adam, creating a complicated love triangle. Ian McEwan is the author of nearly 20 books, including Atonement and Amsterdam, for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award and Booker Prize, respectively.

When you can read it: April, 23, 2019

Spring by Ali Smith

Spring is a novel by Scottish writer Ali Smith. (Penguin Random House/Christian Sinibaldi)

Spring is the third book in Ali Smith's celebrated Seasonal Quartet, which began with the Man Booker Prize finalist Autumn and the critically acclaimed Winter. The books are interconnected but serve as standalone novels, traversing through time with the generous grace of Smith's prose. 

When you can read it: April 30, 2019

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang, pictured above at the premiere of the film adaptation Arrival, is the author of Exhalation. (Knopf, Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International)

Exhalation is a collection of sci-fi stories from celebrated writer Ted Chiang. Stories include The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, which sends a Baghdad fabric seller through a time portal, and Exhalation, the tale of an alien scientist's universe-altering discovery. Chiang is the author of the novella Story of Your Life, which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film Arrival. 

When you can read it: May 7, 2019

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a fantasy novel by Tomi Adeyemi. (Raincoast Books, Larry D. Moore)

Deemed "the next J.K. Rowling" by Entertainment Weekly, Tomi Adeyemi made a splash with her New York Times-bestselling debut Children of Blood and BoneThe next book in the Legacy of Orisha trilogy, Children of Virtue and Vengeancereturns to the maji Zelie and princess Amari, who have brought magic back to their land. But the ritual also brought magic back to their enemies — the nobles — and the two struggle to unite the maji before civil war breaks out and threatens the very existence of maji. 

When you can read it: June 4, 2019

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls is a novel by Elizabeth Gilbert. (Riverhead Books, Barry Sutton)

After getting kicked out of college, 19-tear-old Vivian Morris is sent to live with her Aunt Peg in Manhattan where she falls in with a dynamic group of actors and playwrights. A mistake blows up in Vivian's face, becoming a scandal that rocks her newfound sense of purpose. Now 95, Vivian reflects on those heady days of youth. Elizabeth Gilbert is a bestselling American author, known for books like Eat Pray Love and Big Magic.

When you can read it: June 4, 2019

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a novel by poet Ocean Vuong. (Tom Hines, Penguin Press)

In On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeousa man in his late 20s writes a moving, history-spanning letter to his mother, who is illiterate. The narrator, Little Dog, looks back on his ancestors in Vietnam and examines how his family history has shaped him and the secrets he bears. Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet whose book Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award and others. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is his first novel.

When you can read it: June 4, 2019

Deep River by Karl Marlantes

Deep River is a novel by Karl Marlantes. (Devon Marlantes/Grove Atlantic)

Set in the early 1900s, Deep River tells the story of three Finnish siblings fleeing Russia's imperial rule for southern Washington. While brothers Ilmari and Matti join the logging industry, their sister Aino takes charge of the growing labour movement. Karl Marlantes is an American writer and war veteran, whose previous books include the critically acclaimed Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War.

When you can read it: July 12, 2019

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys is a novel by Colson Whitehead. (Madeline Whitehead, Doubleday Canada)

Based on a real reform school in Florida that operated for over a century, The Nickel Boys is the chilling tale of a young black man named Elwood Curtis who is sent to live at a juvenile reformatory after an innocent mistake. The Nickel Academy bills itself as a place of "physical, intellectual and moral training," but in reality it is a place where young boys are subject to physical and sexual abuse. Coming of age in the early 1960s, Elwood struggles to hold onto the words of his idol, Dr. Martin Luther King, in the face of cruelty. Colson Whitehead is a celebrated American writer whose previous book, The Underground Railroadwon the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Carnegie Medal for Fiction and many other honours.

When you can read it: July 16, 2019


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?