We are beyond excited about all of the wonderful books coming out in 2017, and it was a real struggle to keep this list to just seventeen releases we are looking forward to this year. This is a list of firsts, with many notable debuts and also some first short story collections or novels from authors we are already well acquainted with. It focuses on (mostly) the first half of 2017. If you’re anything like us, it’s been tough finding things to look forward to this year. Well, this list of books is an excellent start.
Difficult Women, Roxane Gay’s first short story collection, was released at the very beginning of the year, and it was a great way to ring in 2017. Roxane Gay has already established herself as an editor, New York Times contributor, and the bestselling author of Ayiti, An Untamed State, and Bad Feminist. Really, she needs no introduction. We are also stoked that she is the judge for our 2017 anthology.
Publication date: January 3
The first short story collection from the ever-wonderful Ottessa Moshfegh has arrived! Her novel Eileen won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, and her stories have received much critical acclaim. We were honored to publish a craft essay by Moshfegh ourselves. It is high time that this collection was published and we’re so glad that it’s here.
Publication date: January 17
The Refugees is the debut short story collection from Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Sympathizer. One story focuses on a woman whose husband’s dementia causes him to confuse her with a former lover. Another centers on the experience of a Vietnamese refugee in San Francisco. This collection, twenty years in the making, is not to be missed.
Publication date: February 7
Well, it happened. George Saunders, long celebrated for his speculative and funny short stories, has written a novel. Saunders starts with a historical premise and takes it into the realm of the unreal: the novel follows Willie Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son who died at eleven years old, as he navigates purgatory. We’re not gonna lie: we’re really excited about this one.
Publication date: February 14
The Idiot, the debut novel from New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman, is set in the good old days of 1995. It follows protagonist Selin, whose parents are Turkish immigrants, as she navigates Harvard and Europe. This worldly novel about self-discovery is on our spring reading list.
Publication date: March 14
2017 seems to be the year of the debut collection, and we could not be more stoked about that. Wait Till You See Me Dance—the first short story collection from Unferth, the author of Minor Robberies, Vacation, and Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War—will be released by Graywolf Press in late March.
Publication date: March 21
Rabbit Cake is Annie Hartnett’s first novel, out from Tin House in March. It is written from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl named Elvis whose mother has just died of drowning while sleepwalking, and whose sister suffers from the same dangerous somnambulism. Set in Alabama, this sad and charming debut depicts the strangeness of life through a fresh and unique set of eyes.
Publication date: March 7
This speculative debut novel from accomplished journalist Omar El Akkad takes place about fifty years in the future: a Second American Civil War is underway; flooding has drastically changed the landscape; plague poses an imminent threat. Emily St. John Mandel says of the book: “El Akkad’s story of a family caught up in the collapse of an empire is as harrowing as it is brilliant, and has an air of terrible relevance in these partisan times.”
Publication date: April 4
Oh. We are so excited about this debut collection. It touches on the genres of magical realism, SciFi, and dystopian literature. For a preview, check out Arimah’s much-lauded stories in Catapult and The New Yorker.
Publication date: April 4
We already know that Kristen Radtke does wonderful work in the publishing world as the managing editor of Sarabande Books, and we love her graphic essays and book reviews. Well, here comes her debut graphic memoir that meditates on family, loss, and the nature of ruins.
Publication date: April 18
In her first collection of personal essays, Scaachi Koul talks about growing up in Calgary, Alberta as the daughter of Indian immigrants; gender roles; and the miseries and humor in everyday life. Koul’s essays have been published in many literary magazines, and she is a senior writer at BuzzFeed Canada.
Publication date: May 2
Habash’s freshman novel is coming out from Coffee House Press this summer. In the words of the publisher: “Foxcatcher meets The Art of Fielding, Stephen Florida follows a college wrestler in his senior season, when every practice, every match, is a step closer to greatness and a step further from sanity.”
Publication date: June 6
Viking snagged the first novel by Zinzi Clemmons, and this highly anticipated book hits shelves this summer. It follows protagonist Thandi as she grows up in Pennsylvania and comes to terms with the death of her South African mother, and explores personal and family identity. Lyrical and laden with feeling, this one sounds like a stunner.
Publication date: July 11
Sour Heart is Jenny Zhang’s debut collection of short stories, and the first release from Lena Dunham’s new imprint, Lenny. For a little preview, check out some of Zhang’s fiction in Rookie and Diagram.
Publication date: August 1
Catapult by Emily Fridlund
Ben Marcus selected Catapult as the winner of the 2015 Mary McCarthy Prize in Fiction. The stories in this collection play with the bounds of reality, without explicitly violating them. In the title story, for example, teenagers for whom sex is forbidden attempt to build a time machine. We are curious.
Publication date: October
Fresh Complaint is—believe it or not—the first collection of stories from celebrated author Jeffrey Eugenides. We know that we won’t be the only ones scrambling to read this book, which will be released by FSG this fall.
Publication date: October 3
Carmen Maria Machado’s story collection comes out from Graywolf Press in October, and it looks absolutely unbelievable. In the words of the publisher: “In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.” Kevin Brockmeier says: “Machado is the way forward.” We are in.
Publication date: October 3
by Sadye Teiser