The Best Literary Fiction of 2021 (Anticipated)

2021 best literary fiction books novels anticipated new releases

This is a list of the upcoming 2021 Most Anticipated Literary Fiction Books, limited to hardcover new releases. I’ll be updating this list as more titles are announced, so stay tuned for more!

If there’s a book you think belongs on this list, please do drop me a line!

For more books coming soon, see the list of Upcoming New Release Books.

Jhumpa Lahiri

What It's About: Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars...

Publication Date: August 30, 2018
contemporary literary fiction short stories

How Beautiful We Were
Imbolo Mbue

What It's About: From the celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, comes a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an America oil company.

"We should have known the end was near."

So begins Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were...

Publication Date: March 9, 2021
historical fiction africa literary fiction

Klara and the Sun
Kazuo Ishiguro

What It's About: From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans...

Publication Date: March 2, 2021
sci fi science fiction book club

My Year Abroad
Chang-rae Lee

What It's About: Librarian note: Please see alternate cover edition for Powells Indiespensable here:

From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure - and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection...

Publication Date: February 2, 2021
dnf contemporary did not finish

Helen Oyeyemi

What It's About: When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment--and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive...

Publication Date: April 6, 2021
fantasy magical realism dnf

The Kindest Lie
Nancy Johnson

What It's About: A promise could betray you.

It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager...

Publication Date: February 2, 2021
botm contemporary book of the month

The Upstairs House
Julia Fine

What It's About: “Formidable new talent” (San Francisco Chronicle) Julia Fine, author of the “surreally feministic tale” (Family Circle) What Should Be Wild, returns with a provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown...

Publication Date: February 23, 2021
horror 2021 releases mystery

First Person Singular: Stories
Haruki Murakami

What It's About: A riveting new collection of short stories from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami.

The eight masterful stories in this new collection are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator: a lonely man. Some of them (like With the Beatles, Cream and On a Stone Pillow ) are nostalgic looks back at youth...

Publication Date: April 6, 2021
short stories japan murakami

Of Women and Salt
Gabriela Garcia

What It's About: In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette...

Publication Date: March 30, 2021
historical fiction audiobook book club

Hamlet Retelling (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Gillian Flynn

What It's About: Coming in 2021. Gillian Flynn, author of the bestseller Gone Girl, is to write a new twist on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Flynn is the latest author to be commissioned by the Hogarth Shakespeare project to rewrite the Bard's works. The series launches in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

Publication Date: Not Available

Harlem Shuffle
Colson Whitehead

What It's About: Not a lot is known about this upcoming release yet, but it's tentatively planned for Fall 2021. Whitehead has described it as a 'lively heist' novel that a bit lighter in tone. It's set in Harlem in the 1960's.

Publication Date: Not Available

2021 best literary fiction books novels anticipated new releases

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