The editors and critics on our staff invest their time and knowledge in selecting exceptional books that they believe should be recommended. We work hard to bring you the most interesting, noteworthy, intelligent, thought-provoking, and talked-about books every week. We are excited to provide our carefully curated list of eight excellent fiction titles that are must-reads as we say goodbye to 2023. These books have all been carefully chosen to provide you with an amazing reading experience and to make sure you find something that strikes a deep chord with you and sparks a never-ending dialogue.
Let Us Descend
Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.
Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world.
Release Date: October 24, 2023
I’m a Fan
Sheena Patel’s incandescent first novel begins with the unnamed narrator describing her involvement in a seemingly unequal romantic relationship. With a clear and unforgiving eye, she dissects the behavior of all involved, herself included, and makes startling connections between the power struggles at the heart of human relationships and those of the wider world. I’m a Fan offers a devastating critique of class, social media, patriarchy’s hold on us, and our cultural obsession with status and how that status is conveyed. In this unforgettable debut, Patel announces herself as a dynamic, commanding new voice in literature.
Release Date: September 5, 2023
This Won’t Help
There’s a lot going on, all the time. It may feel overwhelming. Don’t worry. It will end. This Won’t Help is here for you in the meantime—with 100 short, sharp, satirical essays that skewer a world raging with inaction, while maximizing the profits of self-destruction. As if that would help!
Eli Grober’s biting, Swiftian prose spares no one—not the megalomaniacal billionaire fleeing Earth for a better life on unlivable Mars, not an extremely online family living completely off-grid, not even a fossil-fuel lobbyist insisting we all stop using straws. (Eli does spare a kind thought for the supremely intelligent readers with the good sense to buy this book.)
Release Date: October 24, 2023
How to Build a Boat
Jamie O’Neill loves the colour red. He also loves tall trees, patterns, rain that comes with wind, the curvature of certain objects, books with dust jackets, rivers, cats, and Edgar Allan Poe. At age thirteen, there are two things he wants most in life: to build a Perpetual Motion Machine, and to connect with his mother, Noelle, who died when he was born. In his mind, these things are intimately linked, and at his new school, despite the daily barrage of bullies and cathedral bells, he meets two teachers who might be able to help him, though each struggles against inertias of their own.
How to Build a Boat is the story of how one boy’s irrepressible dream finds expression through a community propelled by love out of grief.
Release Date: August 24, 2023
The House of Doors
Tan Twan Eng
The year is 1921. Lesley Hamlyn and her husband, Robert, a lawyer and war veteran, are living at Cassowary House on the Straits Settlement of Penang. When “Willie” Somerset Maugham, a famed writer and old friend of Robert’s, arrives for an extended visit with his secretary Gerald, the pair threatens a rift that could alter more lives than one.
Maugham, one of the great novelists of his day, is beleaguered: Having long hidden his homosexuality, his unhappy and expensive marriage of convenience becomes unbearable after he loses his savings-and the freedom to travel with Gerald.
Release Date: October 17, 2023
On a dark, wet evening in Dublin, scientist and mother-of-four Eilish Stack answers her front door to find two officers from Ireland’s newly formed secret police on her step. They have arrived to interrogate her husband, a trade unionist.
Ireland is falling apart, caught in the grip of a government turning towards tyranny. As the life she knows and the ones she loves disappear before her eyes, Eilish must contend with the dystopian logic of her new, unraveling country. How far will she go to save her family? And what—or who—is she willing to leave behind? The winner of the Booker Prize 2023, Prophet Song presents a terrifying.
Release Date: December 5, 2023
A professor finds a photograph of her deceased mother in a compromising position on the wall of a museum. A twenty-something’s lucrative remote work sparks paranoia and bigotry. A transplant to a new city must make a choice about who she trusts when her partner reveals a violent history. The summer after her divorce from an older man, an exiled painter’s former friends grapple with rumors that she attempted to pass as a teenager.
In this long-awaited debut collection, Kathleen Alcott turns her skills as a stylist on the unfreedoms of American life—as well as the guilt that stalks those who survive them.
Release Date: July 18, 2023
In Holler, Child’s eleven brilliant stories, LaToya Watkins presses at the bruises of guilt, love, and circumstance. Each story introduces us to a character irrevocably shaped by place and reaching toward something—hope, reconciliation, freedom. In “Cutting Horse,” the appearance of a horse in a man’s suburban backyard places a former horse breeder in trouble with the police. In “Holler, Child,” a mother is forced into an impossible position when her son gets in a kind of trouble she knows too well from the other side. And “Time After” shows us the unshakable bonds of family as a sister journeys to find her estranged brother—the one who saved her many times over.
Release Date: August 29, 2023