Culture

YOUR SPRING 2021 READING LIST

Bookmark these

09.03.2021

Save
Share the story
Link copied

Not to be pessimistic, but the shit show that was 2020 has spilled mercilessly into 2021. Although we now know when we'll gather in groups larger than six, hopefully without the cloud of Covid/Brexit/existential dread hanging over our weary heads, some escapism is in order, I’m sure you’ll agree. So to take the edge off, here’s Buro’s round-up of the best books to look forward to over the coming year – from punchy essay collections to unputdownable debuts and everything in between.

Transcendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi

Release date: March 4th

As a PhD candidate at Stamford, Gifty studies the neural circuits of depression and addiction – an attempt to understand the suffering that she herself has witnessed. Her brother, Nana, died of a heroin overdose when she was 11, and her Ghanain mother is suicidal as a result. As Gifty navigates her trauma, she finds herself drifting towards the evangelical faith of her childhood. A moving exploration of science and spirituality, Yaa Gyasi’s second novel truly is transcendent.

PRE-ORDER HERE

King of Rabbits

Karla Neblett

Release date: March 25th

“I was determined to write a book that my brothers and father (my dad was semi-literate) could pick up and read, with simple language, and with characters and an environment that they would recognise,” says Karla Neblett of her debut novel. It tells the story of Kai, who lives on a council estate in rural Somerset with his crack-addicted mother and three older sisters. As his life drifts towards tragedy, King of Rabbits proves a compelling illustration of how our society fails young, working class men.

PRE-ORDER HERE

The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman

Release date: March 30th

At Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman delivered a spellbinding recital of her poem, The Hill We Climb. Delve further into her work with this collectible gift edition of the poem, including a foreword by Oprah Winfrey.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Whereabouts

Jhumpa Lahiri

Release date: April 27th

Initially published in Italian in 2018, Whereabouts is all the more impressive for the fact that it was translated into English by the author herself. Lahiri’s first English language novel in over a decade follows an unnamed Italian woman living in an unnamed Italian city. She goes to bars, restaurants and museums by herself, and is lonely even when in company. Time eludes her, until one transformative moment at the beach. What this novel lacks in plot it compensates for in delicately constructed prose.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Sorrowland

Rivers Solomon

Release date: May 6th

The latest from Stormzy’s much-hyped publishing imprint #Merky Books is a gothic tale about Vern, a Black woman with albinism, who escapes a religious compound. Alone in the woods, she gives birth to twins and decides to raise them in seclusion. But she quickly discovers that her body is changing, gaining extra sensory powers. To get to the bottom of it, Vern must investigate both the compound she fled and the violent history of dehumanisation, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it.

PRE-ORDER HERE

The Mother Project

Sophie Beresiner

Release date: May 27th

Sophie Beresiner’s upcoming book functions almost as a prequel to her hit column of the same name. She survived cancer in her twenties and was diagnosed as infertile; thus begins her tumultuous journey to motherhood. It’s all there; from the “shock of an infertility diagnosis” to the “mind blowing, fantastical, stupendous rollercoaster” that brought her to Marlies, her now ten-month-old daughter. For fans of the column, Beresiner’s book is like raw, uncut footage – everything we know, and some bits we don’t. For newbies, it’s a deep dive into her story – one that, while deeply personal, will resonate with many.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Filthy Animals

Brandon Taylor

Release date: June 22nd

In his Booker-shortlisted debut, Real Life, Brandon Taylor painted an intimate picture of friendship, sex and race in the American Midwest. His upcoming collection promises to tread similar ground. A series of linked stories, it centres on Charles and Sophie, two dancers in an open relationship, and Lionel, who becomes involved with them. Roxane Gay has has already praised the book as “meticulously written” and “melancholic.” If it’s anything like Taylor’s first novel, Filthy Animals will be well worth a read.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Conversations on Love

Natasha Lunn

Release date: July 15th

Natasha Lunn’s debut grew out of an eponymous newsletter and, as the name suggests, features illuminating conversations on love with an impressive array of guests (Alain de Botton, Candice Carty-Williams and relationship guru Esther Perel among them). Lunn also offers more personal musings on her first love, first pregnancy and first year of marriage. “It’s about understanding that in every ordinary moment, we have an opportunity to choose love,” she said in an Instagram post.

PRE-ORDER HERE

ADVERTISEMENT. CONTINUE READING BELOW

Concrete Rose

Angie Thomas

Release date: January 12th

With his father in prison and his mother working two jobs, Maverick Carter turns to selling drugs to get by – until fatherhood comes knocking on his door, that is. Concrete Rose is set 17 years before The Hate U Give, Thomas’ 2017 debut, returning to Garden Heights to tell the story of Starr’s father. It is an uncompromising exploration of Black boyhood in the US, and a worthy prequel to Thomas’ award-winning novel.

BUY HERE

We Are All Birds of Uganda

Hafsa Zayyan

Release date: January 21st

The debut novel from Hafsa Zayyan, winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, is a compelling dual narrative hinged around the 1972 expulsion of South Asians from Uganda. In 1960s Kampala, Hasan mourns the loss of his wife amid rising Indophobic sentiment in his home country. In present-day London, Sameer struggles to live up to his parents expectations and finds himself questioning his future plans. As both protagonists embark on journeys they never expected to take, We Are All Birds of Uganda is multigenerational exploration of race, identity, emigration and the concept of home.

BUY HERE

Luster

Raven Lelilani

Release date: January 21st

You’ve seen it in Vogue and you’ve seen it on Twitter; the hotly-anticipated debut from Raven Lelilani is finally hitting UK shelves this January. The protagonist, a Black woman called Edie, is a hapless millennial with hapless millennial problems. She wants to paint, but is stuck in a dead-end job in an office full of white people. She falls in and out of bed with the wrong type of men. Then, along comes Eric; a middle-aged white man in a sort of open marriage with an adopted Black daughter. It’s already topped various US bestseller lists and won the Kirkus Prize for fiction, so add to your shopping cart ASAP.

BUY HERE

Asylum Road

Olivia Sudjic

Release date: January 21st

When Anya and Luke return from a holiday in Provence engaged, Anya can’t seem to quell the deep anxiety she feels about their relationship. She escaped Sarajevo as a child, and the idea of security remains an unfamiliar one. When she is forced to return home, the past that she had tried to contain for so long inevitably begins to resurface. If positive reviews from the likes of Avni Doshi and Daisy Johnson don’t sway you, Sudjic’s unsettling, but nonetheless brilliant prose should.

BUY HERE

Empireland

Sathnam Sanghera

Release date: January 28th

In the same vein as Afua Hirsch’s Brit-ish and Akala’s Natives, Empireland looks at Britain through the lens of its colonial history. Be it the foundations of the NHS or the exceptionalism that imbued the Brexit campaign, Sanghera proves once again that as a nation, we are never far removed from our imperial past. His writing is caustic, humorous and personal – this is a subject he knows and cares about deeply – and will engage you from start to finish.

BUY HERE

The Librarian

Allie Morgan

Release date: February 4th

From the woman behind the viral Twitter thread, “Things I have learned about the general public whilst working at the library”, Allie Morgan’s debut book is part memoir, part short story collection. In it she recalls charming tales from her time behind the counter and explains how a job at the local library saved her when she hit rock bottom. The Librarian is a timely read highlighting the value of libraries and why, as many face the threat of closure, we need to work harder to protect them.

BUY HERE

Let Me Tell You What I Mean

Joan Didion

Release date: February 4th

A new collection of old essays from singular literary icon Joan Didion. These 12 pieces from early in her career revisit familiar Didion territory – California, the act of writing and her own star-studded exploits (filming TV documentaries and close encounters with Nancy Reagen, for example) – but in presenting them together for the first time ever, they are cast in a prescient new light. Basic book babes, this is one to whip out on the tube and thus prove your literary prowess.

BUY HERE

Before My Actual Heart Breaks

Tish Delaney

Release date: February 18th

As a child, Mary Rattigan dreamed of flying up and away from her small hometown – America, true love and Happily Ever After awaited her. But as a Catholic girl with an abusive mother and apathetic father, things didn’t go to plan. Set against the backdrop of a troubled Northern Ireland, Before My Actual Heart Breaks follows Mary into adult life when, after five children, 25 years and countless wakes and sandwich teas, she finds herself alone. Will she finally find the courage to ask for the love she deserves, or is it too late?

BUY HERE

Bernard and Pat

Blair James

Release date: February 4th

Their father is dead and their mother is out at work, so Catherine and her brother James are spending an increasing amount of time with their childminders, Bernard and Pat. Bernard and Pat have lots of rules, but Catherine only knows the rules when she is shouted at for breaking them. The book is told from the perspective of an adult Catherine who recalls muddled memories from her childhood, in her childhood voice. We find she was often scared and frequently humiliated by Bernard and Pat. As an adult, she is angry that no one protected her. A work of biographical fiction from new writer Blair James, Catherine’s voice will stay with you long after turning the final page.

BUY HERE

Klara and the Sun

Kazuo Ishiguro

Release date: March 2nd

The upcoming offering from Nobel Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. True to form, Klara and the Sun plays with perspective, telling the story of an “Artificial Friend” called Klara who watches the world from her place on a shop shelf, awaiting the day a customer will choose her. But when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

BUY HERE

Acts of Desperation

Megan Nolan

Release date: March 2nd

Another addition to the Young Irish Writers club, Acts of Desperation tells the story of one love-addicted woman as she reflects on her past affairs. In particular, she is preoccupied by one intensely toxic relationship with “the most beautiful man” she had ever seen. A coming-of-age story, but not in the traditional sense, Megan Nolan’s literary debut should be on all good 2021 reading lists.

BUY HERE

Peaces

Helen Oyeyemi

Release date: April 6th

An enchanting novel following Otto and Xavier Shin’s journey on a sleeper train called The Lucky Day. The trip is gifted to them by Xavier’s aunt – a celebration of their “non-honeymoon honeymoon”. But when they board in Kent, accompanied by their pet mongoose, questions quickly begin to arise. Where are they going? Who is Ava Kapoor – the sleeper train’s sole full-time inhabitant? And what is her relationship to a man called Prem? Peaces is a characteristically surreal read from the prize-winning, bestselling author of Gingerbread.

PRE-ORDER HERE

First Person Singular

Haruki Murakami

Release date: April 6th

If Corona has decimated your attention span, short stories are the way to go. And where better to start than Murakami’s upcoming collection of eight trippy tales? As the title suggests, each is written in the first person – what’s unclear is whether said person is Murakami himself or not. Between meditations on youth, music, baseball and more, readers are left to decide whether First Person Singular is a work of memoir or fiction, and it’s all the more intriguing for it.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Share the story
Link copied
Explore more
Link copied