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Winter 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 Winter 2021!

The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams

An exhilarating and laugh-out-loud debut novel that chronicles the misadventures of a lovelorn Victorian lexicographer and the young woman put on his trail a century later to root out his misdeeds while confronting questions of her own sexuality and place in the world.

A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

A haunting, suspenseful literary debut that combines a classic coming of age story with a portrait of a fractured American family dealing with the fallout of one summer evening gone terribly wrong.

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Summerwater is a searing exploration of our capacity for kinship and cruelty, and a gorgeous evocation of the natural world that bears eternal witness.

Trio by William Boyd

A producer. A novelist. An actress. It’s summer 1968–a time of war and assassinations, protests and riots. While the world is reeling, our trio is involved in making a disaster-plagued, Swingin’ Sixties British movie in sunny Brighton. All are leading secret lives. As the movie shoot zigs and zags, these layers of secrets become increasingly more untenable. Pressures build inexorably. The FBI and CIA get involved. Someone is going to crack–or maybe they all will.

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

A compulsively readable literary debut set in a secluded boarding school, exploring the intoxicating, destructive relationships between teenage girls.

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee

Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion–on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs.

Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

A woman in a post-election tailspin discovers that her boyfriend is an anonymous online conspiracy theorist in this provocative and subversive debut novel that examines social media, sex, feminism, and fiction, the connection they’ve all promised, and the lies they help us tell.

The Removed by Brandon Hobson

Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma–a meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Pairing superlative emotional insight with unabashed vivid fantasy, Broder tells a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways that we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts. Milk Fed is a tender and riotously funny meditation on love, certitude, and the question of what we are all being fed, from one of our major writers on the psyche–both sacred and profane.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom — and their lives.

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman

After a humiliating scandal, a young writer flees to the West Coast, where she is drawn into the morally ambiguous orbit of a charismatic filmmaker and the teenage girls who are her next subjects.

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

Teenage Eulabee and her magnetic best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. They know Sea Cliff’s homes and beaches, its hidden corners and eccentric characters–as well as the upscale all-girls’ school they attend. One day, walking to school with friends, they witness a horrible act–or do they? Eulabee and Maria Fabiola vehemently disagree on what happened, and their rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance–a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community and threatens to expose unspoken truths.

An achingly beautiful story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance set in the changing landscape of San Francisco.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Martha Friel just turned forty. Once, she worked at Vogue and planned to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content. She used to live in a pied-à-terre in Paris. Now she lives in a gated community in Oxford, the only person she knows without a PhD, a baby or both, in a house she hates but cannot bear to leave. But she must leave, now that her husband Patrick–the kind who cooks, throws her birthday parties, who loves her and has only ever wanted her to be happy–has just moved out. And she has nowhere to go except her childhood home.  But maybe, by starting over, Martha will get to write a better ending for herself–and she’ll find out that she’s not quite finished after all.

The Delivery by Peter Mendelsund

Harrowing and hilarious, The Delivery is a fable for and about our times: an exploration of the ways language and commerce unites and isolates every one of us, native and immigrant both.

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

A brilliant physicist studying the nature of time embarks on a journey to prove that those we love are always connected to us, leading to surprising revelations in this fresh and unique love story.

Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic

A darkly gripping debut novel about a teenage girl’s fierce struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father.

Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa

In the tourist town of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, in the aftermath of their mother’s passing, two siblings spend a final weekend together in their childhood home. Seeing her brother, Rafa, careening toward a place of no return, Rufina devises a bet: if they can make enough money performing for privileged tourists in the plaza over the course of the weekend to afford a plane ticket out, Rafa must commit to living. If not, Rufina will make her peace with Rafa’s own plan for the future, however terrifying it may be.

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin

Taking inspiration from a classic Edith Wharton tale about a small-town love triangle, The Smash-Up is a wholly contemporary exploration of how the things we fail to see can fracture a life, a family, a community, and a nation as a family is upended when their small-town life becomes the latest battlefield in the culture wars.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

An urgent and lyrical novel about a Colombian family fractured by deportation, offering an intimate perspective on an experience that so many have endured–and are enduring right now.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

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?