The Best Books of 2012? Part 2: Authors We Know and Love

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Last week I posted: The Best Books of 2012? Part 1: Debut Authors

This time it is the turn of the authors that we are already familiar with. Here are the 2012 books I am looking forward to reading:

Note: UK release month shown in brackets, date may be different in other countries.

Intrusion (Note: UK cover not available yet – this is the French translation which is available now for all those lucky enough to speak French)

In by Natsuo Kirino (August, Harvill Secker)

Out by Natsuo Kirino is my favourite thriller so I’m very excited that her new book is going to be published here later this year. In contains an investigation into a best-selling author and promises to question the differences between life and literature. I hope it lives up to my exceedingly high expectations.


Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (May, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Alison Bechdel’s darkly comic memoir, Fun Home, introduced me to the graphic novel. She returns with a graphic novel about her mother. I’m sure this will be one of the most talked about books next year.

The Greatcoat

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore (February, Hammer)

The Siege by Helen Dunmore is one of the best pieces of historical fiction I’ve ever read. The Greatcoat is described as a chilling and atmospheric ghost story set in 1950s Yorkshire and my only hope is that her amazing writing skills don’t scare me too much!

.The Chemistry of Tears

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey (April, Faber and Faber)

An automaton brings two strangers together. Using clockwork objects as the basis for a story worked for Hugo Cabret – I think this sounds wonderfully original and I look forward to trying it.


Arcadia by Lauren Groff (April, William Heinemann)

The author of The Monsters of Templeton returns with a new book about a group of people who set up a commune in the grounds of a decaying mansion. The premise doesn’t sound that exciting, but Groff has the ability to turn very ordinary situations into engaging reads so I think this is one to look out for.

All is Song

All Is Song by Samantha Harvey (January, Jonathan Cape)

The Wilderness was one of my favourite books in 2010 so I’m looking forward to reading her second novel. A few people suggested that this one about brotherhood is even better than her first. I’m not sure that is possible, but I look forward to finding out.

The Child Who

The Child Who by Simon Lelic (January, Mantle)

Rupture is one of the best novels published in recent years. I love the way Simon Lelic forces the reader to look at difficult situations in a different light and this book about a solicitor defending a child murderer promises to be just as compelling. I’m lucky enough to have an ARC of this book and look forward to reading it over Christmas.


Phantom by Jo Nesbo (March, Vintage)

Jo Nesbo returns with the 7th book in the Harry Hole series.

Bring up the Bodies

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (May, 4th Estate)

I wasn’t a big fan of Wolf Hall, but if you were you’ll be excited to learn that the sequel is out next year.

Other books to look out for:

The Red House by Mark Haddon (May, Jonathan Cape)

Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis (July, Jonathan Cape)

Capital by John Lancaster (March, Faber and Faber)

Mo Said She Was Quirky by James Kelman (July, Hamish Hamilton)

In One Person by John Irving (May, Doubleday)

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Simon Mawer (May, Little, Brown)

If you’re in the US then you’ll be happy to know that Harper recently announced that it will be publishing new books from Michael Chabon and Barbara Kingsolver in the Fall. Unfortunately those of us in the rest of the world will have to wait a little bit longer for them.

Which 2012 books are you looking forward to?


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  1. Leela Soma says:

    I was looking forward to your list Jackie. I’ve not read any of them so maybe I need to look out for some of them. Thanks for sharing. I’ve just managed to finish your last year’s favourite’The Room’ . I enjoy your blog and hope to read a lot more in 2012!

    1. Jackie says:

      Leela, Thank you for the kind words. I hope you find many more wonderful books to read in 2012.

  2. Laura T says:

    I loved ‘The Monsters of Templeton’, thanks for the heads-up about the new Lauren Groff!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, Let’s hope it is as good as her last. :-)

  3. Tony says:

    Hmm, not a lot there for me – seems a bit thin compared to 2011.

    Maybe there are some of my favourite writers who are about to release something; they’re just not your favourite writers ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Tony, I agree that big name authors are a bit thin on the ground this year. Peter Carey and Hilary Mantel were the only big ones I found, but I actually think 2012 will be a much better year for fiction than 2011 – some of the debuts are amazing. Hopefully you’ll find something that interests you too.

  4. David says:

    I’m looking forward to the Hilary Mantel immensely as I loved ‘Wolf Hall’. The others on your list less so, except perhaps ‘Capital’ (I really enjoyed Lanchester’s ‘Fragrant Harbour’ but the description of his new one appeals less).
    Authors known and loved whose new books I’m looking forward to include Janet Davey, Sadie Jones, Kitty Aldridge, Susan Fletcher (one of my very favourite authors), Fiona Shaw, Michael Frayn (can’t wait for this – ‘Spies’ is one of my top ten novels of the past decade), Thomas Keneally, Claire Messud, Gillian Slovo, Kate Grenville (a sequel to ‘Secret River’ so hopefully back to her usual standard after the disappointing ‘The Lieutenant’), Georgina Harding, Jon McGregor (another of my favourites – it’ll be interesting to see what his short stories are like compared to his novels), Romesh Gunesekera, Tom Bullough (only just come across him this year via ‘The Claude Glass’ which was very good so I’ve high hopes for ‘Konstantin’), Tim Parks, Robert Edric (back on form this year after last year’s dire ‘Salvage’, and it’s another Victorian novel so should be good), Johanna Skibsrud (I must be one of the few people who rated ‘The Sentimentalists’ beyond last year’s Giller judges, and I’ve been sorely tempted to order a copy of her new collection from Canada where it is already out, so eager am I to read it), Roma Tearne (I’ve not got around to her last one yet, but I find her such an intriguing writer given she is primarily a visual artist which, as an illustrator with a love of literature, speaks to me), Anne Tyler, and Justin Cronin (I think – I haven’t actually read ‘The Passage’ yet as I’m scared he will have sold out, but his ‘Mary & O’Neil’ is another of my top ten from the last decade, so I can’t easily dismiss him). Phew!

    1. Jackie says:

      David, Wow! That is an impressive list! There are a lot of authors in there that I haven’t heard of and a lot that I wasn’t a massive fan of last time around (Sadie Jones, Anne Tyler, Roma Tearne), but perhaps I should give them another try.
      The only Edric I’ve read is Salvage so your comment has at least encouraged me to try one of his other books.
      I also wasn’t a big fan of The Passage, but hadn’t heard of Mary & O’Neil – I’ll look out for that one too.
      I have read The Sentimentalists and I can see why it won the Giller, but it was too descriptive for my taste. I hope you enjoy her new one.

      The one author I am very excited about is Kate Grenville. I loved The Secret River and didn’t realise that she had a new book out. Thank you for pointing that out – I’ll add it to this list later :-)

      Thank you for the helpful comment! *heads off to look up the other authors you mention*

      1. David says:

        Yes, ‘Salvage’ would be a pretty bad place to start with Edric! Though it does contain all his usual tics and themes but magnified tenfold – all his male narrators are essentially the same person and they all have those cod-psychological conversations where they insist on analysing (and often telling) the other person what they really mean. If you’re going to read anything else by him I’d suggest ‘Peacetime’ which is by far the best of his books I’ve read and much more subtle.

        I read Cronin’s ‘Mary and O’Neil’ when it came out back in 2001 and it is a lovely, lovely, heart-rending book. His next ‘The Summer Guest’ was also excellent. Both were what you might call ‘literary’, so it came as something of a surprise when he went down the commercial doorstop thriller route. I love his first book so much I’m almost scared to read ‘The Passage’ if that makes sense?

        Sadie Jones – loved ‘The Outcast’, less impressed with ‘Small Wars’, partly because I read it shortly after reading Stevie Davies’ ‘Into Suez’ which is very similar but far superior.
        Roma Tearne’s ‘Mosquito’ I thought was fantastic and a rare occasion of a novelist writing well about a visual artist (Francesca Kay and Siri Hustvedt have done it well too). I haven’t been quite as captivated by her work since, but I find her a very interesting writer, though I can well understand others not doing.

        I missed Joyce Carol Oates off my list – she (unsurprisingly!) has a new novel out too, “Mudwoman”, which I shall of course buy, though I’m that far behind with her books now – so prolific is she – that I don’t know when I’ll get around to it :)

        1. Jackie says:

          David, It sounds as though we have very similar taste, but I have just had the misfortune to read the wrong books from the same authors!

          I read Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne, but have read so many immigration stories that it did nothing to excite me. I then tried The Swimmer, but couldn’t even finish that one. I haven’t tried Mosquito. :-(

          I did enjoy The Outcast, but wasn’t very impressed by Small Wars. I’d only be tempted to try another of her books if someone assured me the new one was far supieror – perhaps you can do that for me?!

          I can confirm that The Passage is a commercial doorstop! I didn’t realise he’d written literary fiction before that. I love the sound of Mary & O’Neil – I’ve just added it to my wishlist. Thank you!

  5. Annabel says:

    I’ve got an ARC of the new Lelic too – can’t wait. I have retrieved ‘Out’ from my TBR mountains and will aim to read it after Christmas!

    1. Annabel says:

      Meant to add that Ali Shaw’s new one ‘The man who rained’ is at the top of my list for January. The one book I will buy and read instantly – otherwise I’m doing the TBR Double Dare until the end of March.

      1. Jackie says:

        Annabel, I know a lot of people will be excited about The Man Who Rained, but I didn’t get on with The Girl With The Glass Feet. I hope you enjoy it and Out. :-)

  6. parrish says:

    The one that really catches my eye & I checked out already is the Natsuo Kirino.

    1. Jackie says:

      parrish, Yes. That is very exciting. I’m looking forward to it.

  7. Caroline says:

    A lot to look forward to fo me.
    I loved Helen Dunmore’s The Siege. It’s brilliant.
    I haven’t read Out yet but many say it’s so good and I bought it not long ago. Two books to look forward too.
    I need to have a look at Samantha Harvey. I didn’t know her.

    1. Jackie says:

      Caroline, I’m sure you’ll love Out so I’m pleased to hear that you’ve bought a copy. I think you’d like Samantha Harvey too. She did divide people with Wilderness as it is narrated by a person with Alzheimers so is very confusing at times, but I was moved by the way a person forgets even the things that are the most important to them. So a sad, but powerful book.

      1. I absolutely loved The Wilderness; this is the book on your list that most immediately intrigues me. But I’m also keen to read Bechdel’s and Groff’s, and am interested in the others (save Lelic’s, as I don’t know his stuff…though am now off to investigate). Thanks for bringing these out!

  8. I love the sound of so many of these, but need to check out when we can expect them here in the US? This was a great feature Jackie; thanks.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I think that most will be available in the US, but I guess a few will have slightly different publication dates. You’ll have to do your own US version of this post. :-)

  9. Hurrah for Hilary Mantel! Wolf Hall was my bookclub’s best discussion of last year and we’re all excited to read the sequel.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I can see why Wolf Hall would make a fantastic book club discussion – I could certainly have a long, lively debate about it ;-) I hope the sequel is just as easy to talk about.

  10. Sandy says:

    What a great preview! Totally excited about Bechdel’s new one, and OMG Nesbo. Crap, I’d better get started on The Leopard NOW.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I hope the Bechdel is as good as her first. She is a very talented author :-)

  11. Teresa says:

    I’m putting a limit on the new books I read next year (24 and that’s it!), so I’m trying not to get excited about many of them. I will probably read the Wolf Hall sequel, even if I don’t get to it as soon as it’s released. I’m also excited that Samantha Harvey has a new book, as I also liked The Wilderness. The Carey, Bechdel, and Dunmore all interest me, but I’ll probably read their earlier titles first, rather than get lured in by the buzz about the new ones.

    I’m most excited about Stephen King’s new book in the Dark Tower series, Laurie King’s new Russell/Holmes book, and Marilynne Robinson’s book of essays (at least some of which will be about reading).

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I’m not sure how I’d be able to narrow down my selection for next year to 24, but I wish you luck with your challenge. Let’s hope the new Samantha Harvey is worthy of inclusion to your list.

      I haven’t read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, but my husband was excited to hear that there will be a new book – thanks for letting me know about it. :-)

  12. Jenners says:

    I better figure out if I’m on the Nesbo bandwagon soon. And I have Fun Home to try … I should get to that soon. And Chabon has as new book in the fall! Cool!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, There is no need to be quick to jump on the Nesbo bandwagon – I’m waiting for books one and two to be translated before diving into the series. :-)

  13. None of these really jumped out to me – but that’s probably because i haven’t read any of these authors – but will probably try Jo Nesbo at some point since I do like thrillers. Btw, I am almost done reading Q!

    1. Jackie says:

      christa, I don’t have the most mainstream taste in books so don’t worry you haven’t read any of the authors yet.

      I hope you’re enjoying Q – I look forward to reading your review. :-)

  14. Jessica says:

    Its quite rare for me to buy hardbacks but I will be purchasing the Dunmore and the Mantel ones either in hardback or on the kindle.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, I rarely buy hardbacks too. Hopefully most of these will end up in my local library system :-)

  15. Ellie says:

    I’ve had Out to read for years, I need to bump it up the list…and catch up with my Nesbo reading.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ellie, I hope that you enjoy Out as much as I did. :-)

  16. Aths says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Arcadia!! That book has me excited and intrigued. There are a few others in your list that I want to read too and a few that I hadn’t heard of.

    1. Jackie says:

      Aths, Arcadia will be interesting. Let’s hope it is an enjoyable read. :-)

  17. Vasilly says:

    I had no idea that Bechdel has another book coming out! I need to put it on my calendar! I’m hoping to read Arcadia soon. Thanks for another great post!

    1. Jackie says:

      Vasilly, Thanks for the kind words. :-) You have a calendar? Wow – you are far more organised than me!

  18. Andi says:

    Looks like some great choices here!

  19. JoV says:

    Just when I think I could catch up with my reading and the authors that we know go and publish a book a year! Jo Nesbo seems to do so. I’ll be interested to read OUT before I read IN and then compare OUT with IN. Hilary Mantel is being prolific as well. You know what? I think if we sit down and try to read selectively what comes out in 2012, that would be enough to fill my year!

  20. Bellezza says:

    Great. A new book by Natsuo Kirino. Now I don’t know whether to be happy with you for telling me, or furious with you because now I have to wait so long for its release. (Kidding, I’m always happy when you share exciting news such as this.) You read such interesting titles, Jackie, and introduce me to authors which are totally new to me. (I do, however, now of Kirino. Do you think this one will even touch the power of Out?)

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