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    The books we can’t wait to read in 2017

    This year looks to be a good one for fiction, with George Saunders’s first novel and new ones by Arundhati Roy (her first in two decades), Jesmyn Ward, Colm Tóibín, and Elizabeth Strout. And then there are story collections by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Haruki Murakami, and Richard Russo. But there will also be plenty for nonfiction lovers with new work by Joan Didion, Megan Marshall, Frances FitzGerald, David Sedaris, and Roxane Gay. Did we miss any that are on your list?


    “Lincoln in the Bardo’’

    by George Saunders

    Easily one of the most anticipated books of the year. This debut novel from a master of short fiction (“Tenth of December’’) features real historical personalities and imagined characters and follows a grieving Abraham Lincoln’s trips to his son’s grave as spirits around the cemetery bear witness.

    “The Refugees’’

    by Viet Thanh Nguyen

    This story collection by the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner (“The Sympathizer’’) was written over two decades and follows characters in Vietnam and the United States, homelands ancestral and adopted. Nguyen’s closely observed characters wrestle with aspiration and disappointment, identity and loss.

    “A Separation’’

    by Katie Kitamura


    A young translator re-examines memory and motivation when she goes in search of her faithless, soon-to-be ex-husband after she discovers that he’s gone missing in a remote part of Greece in this intimate, psychological mystery.

    “Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast’’

    by Megan Marshall

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    Her output was light and adamantly nonconfessional, but interest in this respected if somewhat obscure poet has surged since her 1979 death, and this biography by Pulitzer winner Marshall (“Margaret Fuller: A New American Life’’) is expected to offer fresh insights from newly discovered letters.


    “The Idiot’’ by Elif Batuman

    The nod to Dostoevsky is no mistake in this witty, endearing coming-of-age saga of a Harvard student, the daughter of Turkish immigrants living in New Jersey, who heads off after a head-spinning freshman year to rural Hungary to teach English and begins to both find and invent herself along the way.

    “South and West: From a Notebook’’

    by Joan Didion

    The revered National Book Award winner’s note-taking is legendary, and these excerpts from two 1970s notebooks (one for a swing through Southern states with husband John Gregory Dunne and the other for a Rolling Stone piece on the Patty Hearst trial) will give fans insight into her process and make many a writer wish that their final drafts compared more favorably with Didion’s early ones.

    “White Tears’’

    by Hari Kunzru

    In this tangled examination of cultural appropriation, the lives of two white New York hipsters who share an obsession with old blues recordings spiral out of control after they try to pass off a doctored recording of a random man singing in a park as a vintage recording of a heretofore unknown artist.

    “All Grown Up’’

    by Jami Attenberg


    Told through vignettes, Attenberg renders a textured and alluring portrait of 39-year-old Andrea Bern, an advertising designer who is unmarried and childless by choice, as she takes stock of her life amid more and less successfully coupled family and friends and a desperately ill baby niece.

    “Exit West’’

    by Mohsin Hamid

    Seeking to escape the escalating deadly violence of civil unrest in their native land, young lovers Nadia and Saeed flee through a magic portal that takes them to a complicated freedom as refugees in a series of Western cities.

    “Ill Will’’ by Dan Chaon

    A literary thriller about a psychologist named Dustin whose testimony put his adopted brother behind bars for decades for the murder of their parents and an uncle and aunt. New evidence has exonerated him as Dustin becomes obsessed with a patient’s suggestion that a serial killer is targeting college boys.

    “The Twelve Lives of
    Samuel Hawley’’

    by Hannah Tinti

    After a wandering childhood, Loo and her career criminal father settle down in the seaside Massachusetts hometown of her mother, who died just after giving birth. Now in high school, Loo tries to parse out the mystery of her mother’s life and the 12 bullet holes that mark her father’s body in this mystery and bildungsroman.


    “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America’’

    by Frances FitzGerald

    The recent presidential election laid bare fault lines in American culture, the depths of which proved surprising and consequential. This history of evangelicals from the 18th century to the present by the Pulitzer-winning journalist and historian was years in the making and sheds fresh light on how we got here.

    “Anything Is Possible’’

    by Elizabeth Strout


    A kaleidoscopic novel of linked stories, reminiscent of the Pulitzer winner’s “Olive Kitteridge,’’ this time revolving around the fraught bonds between family and the challenges of hometown friends who figured into 2016’s critically acclaimed “My Name Is Lucy Barton.’’

    “Somebody With a Little Hammer’’

    by Mary Gaitskill

    Gaitskill is as original in these reviews and personal essays, gathered over two decades, as she is in her fiction; from pieces on “Gone Girl’’ and “Talking Heads’’ to others on losing her cat, date rape, and born-again Christianity her trajectory may seem apparent but she often takes us to unexpected, revelatory places.

    “Marlena’’ by Julie Buntin

    After her parents’ divorce, 15-year-old Cat finds herself in rural Michigan where she becomes entangled with the electrically charismatic and devastatingly troubled Marlena. Decades later, Cat finds herself still wrestling with the tragic fate of her friend in Buntin’s debut.

    “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’’ by Lesley Nneka Arimah

    The buzz around this book is palpable. Inventive and wildly playful, this debut collection of a dozen stories revolves around teenage girls hanging out, women haunted by the past, fathers trying to protect their families, babies made and lost, bits of supernatural and magic, with just about all paths starting or ending in Nigeria.


    “House of Names’’ by Colm Tóibín

    Tóibín reimagines the story of Clytemnestra, left to rule Mycenae (with lover Aegisthus) after husband Agamemnon leaves to wage war on Troy. The celebrated author of “The Master’’ and “Brooklyn’’ explores the queen’s reasons for plotting to kill the king, chief among them his choice of ambition over family in sacrificing daughter Iphigeneia to win favor with the gods in his quest.

    “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)’’ by David Sedaris

    Sedaris fans will thrill to this opportunity to poke around in the writer’s personal diaries, which he has faithfully kept for four decades and used as raw material for his hilarious nonfiction as well as his performances.

    “Men Without Women’’
    by Haruki Murakami

    The seven collected stories from the author of much-lauded works like “Hear the Wind Sing’’ and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’’ revolve around the lives of men who find themselves, for various reasons, alone. Humor, confusion, and yearning blend with Beatles lyrics, smoky bars, mysterious women, and nods to Kafka.

    “Trajectory’’ by Richard Russo

    Russo departs from the blue-collar worlds of “Nobody’s Fool’’ or “Empire Falls’’ to take up with professors, plagiarists, realtors, and novelists in these stories. Despite the socioeconomic shift, these darkly humorous tales of characters wrestling with trial, disappointment, and heartbreak will feel familar to fans.

    “Woman No. 17’’ by Edan Lepucki

    A stylish noir set in the Hollywood Hills told by two narrators: Lady, a writer with a toddler and a troubled teenage son who is struggling to finish a memoir, and S, a nanny and artist who is embraced by the family but develops troubling ties to Lady’s oldest.


    “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’’ by Arundhati Roy

    In her first novel since her 1997 Booker-winning debut, “The God of Small Things,’’ the writer and activist, who in the intervening two decades has published a raft of political nonfiction, weaves a surreal tapestry of vivid characters, living and dead, elderly and newborn, largely broken and yearning to be made whole.

    “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body’’ by Roxane Gay

    Gay’s highly anticipated book is expected to be both painfully intimate and culturally relevant.

    In a recent “Rumpus’’ interview, she said: “I look at sexual violence, trauma, overeating, and obesity as a response to trauma, and living in a morbidly obese body while very much wanting to change that body in a world that condemns that body.’’


    “Sour Heart’’ by Jenny Zhang

    This debut story collection trails adolescent girls growing up in New York. Interest in the book is high, owing to Zhang’s reputation as a smart and irreverent poet and essayist and the fact that this is the first book to be published on Lena Dunham’s Lenny imprint.


    “Sing, Unburied Sing’’
    by Jesmyn Ward

    In her first novel since her 2011 National Book Award winner “Salvage the Bones,’’ Ward returns to the Gulf Coast, chronicling a distinctly American odyssey as a tormented addict mother packs her children up from the family farm in Mississippi, leaving her father and terminally ill mother behind, and heads to the state prison where the children’s white father is being released.


     “Nevertheless,’’Alec Baldwin’s memoir, April 4

     “The Secrets of My Life,’’ Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir, April 25

     “Into the Water,’’ Paula Hawkins’s first book since “The Girl on the Train,’’ May 2

     “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,’’ Ivanka Trump’s second book after 2009’s “The Trump Card: Playing to Win at Work,’’ May 2

     “Heather, the Totality,’’ “Mad Men’’ creator Matthew Weiner’s debut novel, Oct. 31.

    Paul S. Makishima can be reached at