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Most Anticipated Summer 2021 Literary Fiction Books

Looking for those books that are more character-driven than plot-driven?  We have you covered with a list of bestselling authors you’re already acquainted with, and debut authors making their mark in the genre. So make space on your bookshelves, stop by your favorite indie bookstore, and make those library requests after you’ve browsed our most anticipated literary fiction books of Summer 2021!

Second Place : A Novel Rachel Cusk

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Second Place, Rachel Cusk’s electrifying new novel, is a study of female fate and male privilege, the geometries of human relationships, and the moral questions that animate our lives. It reminds us of art’s capacity to uplift–and to destroy.

A Lonely Man : A Novel Chris Power

A Lonely Man by Chris Power

The author of Mothers delivers an existential mystery that explores the uncertain intersection between fiction and reality, and the disastrous consequences of a chance encounter.

Mary Jane : A Novel Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this funny, wise, and tender novel about a fourteen-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for–who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.

Swimming Back to Trout River : A Novel Linda Rui Feng

Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng

A lyrical novel set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution that follows a father’s quest to reunite his family before his precocious daughter’s momentous birthday.

Angel & Hannah : A Novel in Verse Ishle Yi Park

Angel & Hannah by Ishle Yi Park

The sweeping, unforgettable story of an interracial couple in 1990s New York City who are determined to protect their love against all odds–a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.

A Special Place for Women  Laura Hankin

A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin

It’s a club like no other. Only the most important women receive an invitation. But one daring young reporter is about to infiltrate this female-run secret society, whose bewitching members are caught up in a dark and treacherous business.

The Betrayals : A Novel Bridget Collins

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

An intricate and utterly spellbinding literary epic brimming with enchantment, mystery, and dark secrets.

Phase Six : A novel Jim Shepard

Phase Six by Jim Shepard

A spare and gripping novel about the next pandemic–completed by the award-winning Jim Shepard before COVID-19 even emerged–that reads like a fictional sequel to our current crisis.

Revival Season : A Novel Monica West

Revival Season by Monica West

The daughter of one of the South’s most famous Baptist preachers discovers a shocking secret about her father that puts her at odds with both her faith and her family.

The Other Black Girl : A Novel Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife, The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

Double Blind : A Novel Edward St. Aubyn

Double Blind by Edward St. Aubyn

Double Blind follows three close friends and their circle through a year of extraordinary transformation. Set between London, Cap d’Antibes, Big Sur, and a rewilded corner of Sussex, this thrilling, ambitious novel is about the headlong pursuit of knowledge–for the purposes of pleasure, revelation, money, sanity, or survival–and the consequences of fleeing from what we know about others and ourselves.

With Teeth : A Novel Kristen Arnett

With Teeth by Kristen Arnett

From the author of the New York Times-bestselling sensation Mostly Dead Things a surprising and moving story of two mothers, one difficult son, and the limitations of marriage, parenthood, and love.

Animal : A Novel Lisa Taddeo

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo illustrates one woman’s exhilarating transformation from prey into predator in Animal. Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society.

Rainbow Milk : A Novel Paul Mendez

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

An essential and revelatory coming-of-age narrative from a thrilling new voice, Rainbow Milk follows nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing.

Hard Like Water  Yan Lianke, Carlos Rojas (Translated by)

Hard Like Water by Yan Lianke, Translated by Carlos Rojas

A novel of rare emotional force and surprising humor, Hard Like Water is an operatic and brilliantly plotted human drama about power’s corrupting nature and the brute force of love and desire.

Home Stretch : A Novel Graham Norton

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Explores the aftermath of a tragedy on a small-town to illuminate the shame and longing that can flow through generations–and how the secrets of the heart cannot stay be buried forever.

What You Can See from Here : A Novel Mariana Leky, Tess Lewis

What You Can See from Here by Mariana Leky, Translated by Tess Lewis

A heartwarming story unfolds about a small town, a grandmother whose dreams foretell a coming death, and the young woman forever changed by these losses and her loving, endearingly oddball community.

This Shining Life : A Novel Harriet Kline

This Shining Life by Harriet Kline

A boy struggling to process an unexpected loss believes he has been given a series of clues to the biggest puzzle of all–the meaning of life.

Songs in Ursa Major : A novel Emma Brodie

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie

A transporting love story of music, stardom, heartbreak, and a gifted young singer-songwriter who must find her own voice.

Heatwave : A Novel Victor Jestin

Heatwave by Victor Jestin

A vivid, mesmerizing novel about a teenage boy on vacation who makes an irrevocable mistake and becomes trapped in a spiral of guilt and desire.

Hell of a Book : A Novel Jason Mott

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

An astounding work of fiction from a New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole.

Nobody, Somebody, Anybody : A Novel Kelly McClorey

Nobody, Somebody, Anybody by Kelly McClorey

A moving and darkly comic debut novel about an anxious young woman who administers a self-made “placebo” treatment in a last-ditch attempt to rebuild her life.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead : A Novel Emily Austin

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

This hilarious and profound debut follows a morbidly anxious young woman who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.

Alec : A Novel William di Canzio

Alec by William di Canzio

William di Canzio’s Alec, inspired by Maurice, E. M. Forster’s secret novel of a happy same-sex love affair, tells the story of Alec Scudder, the gamekeeper Maurice Hall falls in love with in Forster’s classic, published only after the author’s death.

The Woman from Uruguay  Pedro Mairal, Jennifer Croft (Translated by)

The Woman from Uruguay by Pedro Mairal, Translated by Jennifer Croft

From acclaimed Argentine author Pedro Mairal and Man Booker International-winning translator Jennifer Croft, the unforgettable story of two would-be lovers over the course of a single day.  The Woman from Uruguay is both a gripping narrative and a tender, thought-provoking exploration of the nature of relationships.

Build Your House Around My Body : A Novel Violet Kupersmith

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

A mixed-race American woman signs up to teach English in Saigon to connect with the Vietnamese part of her heritage. She ends up in a relationship with a fellow teacher, but then she suddenly goes missing.  Other accounts of disappearing young women are revealed while illustrating Vietnam’s history of colonialism, war, and violence against women.

Wayward : A novel Dana Spiotta

Wayward by Dana Spiotta

A moving, funny, engrossing novel about mothers and daughters, and one woman’s midlife reckoning.

Bolla : A Novel Pajtim Statovci, David Hackston (Translated by)

Bolla by Pajtim Statovci, Translated by David Hackston

A dazzling tale full of fury, tenderness, longing, and lust.  Entwined with their story is a re-created legend of a demonic serpent, Bolla; it’s an unearthly tale that gives Arsim and Milos a language through which to reflect on what they once had. A relentless novel of desire, destruction, intimacy, and the different fronts of war.

A Touch of Jen  Beth Morgan

A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan

Embassy Wife : A Novel Katie Crouch

Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch

Two women abroad search for the truth about their husbands–and their country.  Embassy Wife asks what it means to be a human in this world, even as it helps us laugh in the face of our own absurd, seemingly impossible states of affairs.

A Passage North : A Novel Anuk Arudpragasam

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam

A young man journeys into Sri Lanka’s war-torn north in this searing novel of longing, loss, and the legacy of war from the author of The Story of a Brief Marriage.

Ghost Forest : A Novel Pik-Shuen Fung

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

This graceful and indelible debut about love, grief, and family welcomes you into its pages and invites you to linger, staying with you long after you’ve closed its covers.

China Room : A Novel Sunjeev Sahota

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

A transfixing novel about two unforgettable characters seeking to free themselves–one from the expectations of women in early 20th century Punjab, and the other from the weight of life in the contemporary Indian diaspora.

The Bachelor : A Novel Andrew Palmer

The Bachelor by Andrew Palmer

Intellectually ambitious and keenly observed, The Bachelor is also an absorbing coming-of-age tale that tells the story of finding one’s footing in love and art. If salvation can no longer be found in fame, can it still be found in romantic relationships? In an era in which reality TV can make two dozen women fall in love with one man in six weeks, where does entertainment end and reality begin? Why do we, season after season, repeat the same mistakes in love and life?

What Strange Paradise : A novel Omar El Akkad

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair–and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.

Nightbitch : A Novel Rachel Yoder

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

In this blazingly smart and voracious debut, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she’s turning into a dog — expertly balancing the uncanny and quotidian moments of early motherhood.

Virtue : A Novel Hermione Hoby

Virtue by Hermione Hoby

A powerful novel of youth, desire, and moral conflict, in which a young man is seduced by the mirage of glamour–at terrible cost.

Intimacies : A Novel Katie Kitamura

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

A novel from the author of A Separation, an electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths.

The Minister Primarily : A Novel John Oliver Killens

The Minister Primarily by John Oliver Killens

A major literary event–the eagerly anticipated publication of a long-lost novel from legendary writer and three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee John Oliver Killens, hailed as the founding father of the Black Arts Movement and mentor to celebrated writers, including Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Arthur Flowers, and Terry McMillan.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois : A Novel Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

An intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer–that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era.

A Song Everlasting : A Novel Ha Jin

A Song Everlasting by Ha Jin

From the universally admired, National Book Award-winning author of Waiting and The Boat Rocker, an urgent, timely novel that follows a famous Chinese singer severed from his country as he works to find his way in the United States.

When the Reckoning Comes : A Novel LaTanya McQueen

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind.

Damnation Spring  Ash Davidson

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson

An epic, immersive debut, Damnation Spring is the deeply human story of a Pacific Northwest logging town wrenched in two by a mystery that threatens to derail its way of life.

All's Well  Mona Awad

All's Well by Mona Awad

From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny, a darkly funny novel about a theater professor suffering chronic pain, who in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.

Savage Tongues : A Novel Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Savage Tongues by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

A novel about a young woman caught in an affair with a much older man, a personal and political exploration of desire, power, and human connection.

Once There Were Wolves  Charlotte McConaghy

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves–if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.

Paris Is a Party, Paris Is a Ghost : A Novel David Hoon Kim

Paris Is a Party, Paris Is a Ghost by David Hoon Kim

In a strangely distorted Paris, a Japanese adoptee is haunted by the woman he once loved.  David Hoon Kim’s debut is a transgressive, darkly comic novel of becoming lost and found in translation. With each successive, echoic chapter, Paris Is a Party, Paris Is a Ghost plunges us more deeply beneath the surface of things, to the displacement, exile, grief, and desire that hide in plain sight.

Something New Under the Sun : A Novel Alexandra Kleeman

Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman

A novelist discovers the dark side of Hollywood and reckons with ambition, corruption, and connectedness in the age of environmental collapse and ecological awakening–a darkly unsettling near-future novel for readers of Don DeLillo and Ottessa Moshfegh.

The President and the Frog : A novel Carolina De Robertis

The President and the Frog by Carolina De Robertis

As engrossing as it is innovative, vivid, moving, and full of wit and humor, The President and the Frog explores the resilience of the human spirit and what is possible when danger looms. Ferrying us between a grim jail cell and the president’s lush gardens, the tale reaches beyond all borders and invites us to reimagine what it means to lead, to dare, and to dream.

Ramadan Ramsey : A Novel Louis Edwards

Ramadan Ramsey by Louis Edwards

The Guggenheim Fellowship and Whiting Award-winning author Louis Edwards makes his long-awaited comeback with this epic tale of a New Orleans boy whose very creation is so filled with tension that it bedevils his destiny before he is even born. Spanning from the Deep South to the Middle East, Ramadan Ramsey bridges multiple countries and cultures, entwining two families who struggle to love and survive in the face of war, natural disasters, and their equally tumultuous, private mistakes and yearnings.

The Shimmering State : A Novel Meredith Westgate

The Shimmering State by Meredith Westgate

A luminous literary debut following two patients in recovery after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.

The Eternal Audience of One  Rémy Ngamije

The Eternal Audience of One by Rémy Ngamije

Reminiscent of Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon, this coming-of-age tale follows a young man who is forced to flee his homeland of Rwanda during the Civil War and make sense of his reality.

The King of Infinite Space  Lyndsay Faye

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

In this lush, magical, queer, and feminist take on Hamlet in modern-day New York City, a neuro-atypical philosopher, along with his best friend Horatio and artist ex-fiance Lia, are caught up in the otherworldly events surrounding the death of his father.

In the Country of Others : A Novel Leila Slimani

In the Country of Others by Leila Slimani

The award-winning, #1 internationally bestselling new novel by the author of The Perfect Nanny, about a woman in an interracial marriage whose fierce desire for autonomy parallels her adopted country’s fight for independence.

The Human Zoo  Sabina Murray

The Human Zoo by Sabina Murray

At once a propulsive look at contemporary Filipino politics and the history that impacted the country, The Human Zoo is a thrilling and provocative story from one of our most celebrated and important writers of literary fiction.

More Than I Love My Life : A novel David Grossman, Jessica Cohen

More Than I Love My Life by David Grossman, Translated by Jessica Cohen

From the internationally best-selling author, a remarkable novel of suffering, love, and healing: the story of three generations of women and a secret that needs to be told.

Are you looking forward to any of these books?

What literary fiction books are you looking forward to in 2021?  What books would you add to the list?

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