This is the second novel by Han Kang, who won the Man Booker International Prize for her first novel, The Vegetarian. Human Acts, equal parts poetic and disturbing, is about Dong-ho, a 15-year-old boy killed in the 1980 Gwangju uprising, when students protesting South Korea’s dictatorial regime were violently slaughtered by the nation’s army. On the surface, this boy is a nobody, but as the book unfolds, each interconnected chapter reveals a web of survivors who were in some way touched by Dong-ho’s life and continued to be haunted by his death.
Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders, author of story collections Tenth of December and Pastoralia, delivers his first novel, which is inspired from a true moment in our nation’s history. In 1862, the Civil War is raging on and the country is steeling itself for what looks to be a drawn out and bloody fight. Concurrently, in the White House, President Lincoln’s 11-year-old son dies from illness, sending the president into deep grief. From there, Saunders blends historical fiction with magical realism, imagining Willie caught in a purgatory—the Bardo in Tibetan tradition—where other ghosts begin to squabble over young Willie’s eternal soul. This novel is like nothing you’ve ever read and will be the one everyone is talking about this spring.
Imagine Wanting Only This
After spotting an abandoned mining town following her beloved uncle’s funeral, illustrator Kristen Radke began a lifelong obsession with ruins—the traces of places that civilization has abandoned. In this genre-bending graphic novel, Radke takes us on a round-the-world tour of deserted cities and ruined places, drawing them in black and white and musing on the people and places left behind, while also pondering larger questions of grief, identity and human suffering.
Men Without Women
In this astounding new short story collection, Murakami turns his keen powers of observation on the lives of men who, for some reason or another, owing to varying circumstances, find themselves alone. These seven stories, told in the author’s signature wry humor, tell of vanishing cats and broken hearts, of The Beatles and baseball, and will appeal to anyone who’s ever felt the stab of loneliness—man or woman alike.
Fans of The Wangs vs. The World or Crazy Rich Asians will love Diksha Basu’s uproariously funny debut novel of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India, a country striated by class and wealth. This comedy of manners illuminates the snobbery of new money and the aching desire to belong somewhere.
Our nation has a new president, and many of us may be feeling unsure about what the future holds. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do know one thing: 2017 will be a great year for the written word. I know I already wrote about 7 books written by women that I’m looking forward to, but I couldn’t stop there. These 17 reads—publishing January–September of this year—will give us all something to look forward to. Arranged in publication date order, these stunning novels, memoirs and story collections are making me excited for the months ahead. Click on each cover to read more about them and then click to preorder them now—that way, your future self can enjoy them and thank you for your foresight.
Featured image: Tetyana Snezhyk/Shutterstock.com