The most anticipated books of 2022

Cancel everything, there’s only time for reading in 2022.

Cancel everything, there’s only time for reading in 2022.

This story is the one I find the hardest but also the most enjoyable to write every year. It’s difficult because there are so many great books that it’s inevitable some will be left out or missed, but it’s rewarding for that reason: there are so many great books. Booksellers, publishers and writers have weathered a second chaotic year and managed to deliver plenty of challenging, innovative and exciting reads to help the rest of us weather whatever comes our way next.

Australian fiction

No matter what happens in 2022, we’ll at least have Geraldine Brooks′ new novel, Horse (June, Hachette), to soothe our souls. Her first novel since 2015’s The Secret Chord is a multi-stranded narrative exploring the legacy of enslavement and racism in the United States. Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria and The Swan Book should be required reading, so we’re eagerly awaiting the Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Award winner’s novel Praiseworthy (October, Giramondo), her first in nearly eight years. Another strong voice in speculative fiction, Claire G. Coleman’s third novel Enclave (July, Hachette) takes us into a future disturbingly similar to our colonial past.

Bored with cricket? Perhaps a competitive walking match might hold your attention with Australia’s first international sporting hero of “pedestrianism” the inspiration for Robert Drewe’s Nimblefoot (June, Penguin Random House). He’s scored two from two when it comes to Miles Franklin nominations. Robbie Arnott delves into father and son relationships, brotherhood and the environment in his third novel Limberlost (October, Text). Philip Salom, another familiar face on the Miles Franklin lists, will publish Sweeney and the Bicycles (November, Transit Lounge). Steven Carroll completes his brilliant Eliot Quartet with Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight (March, 4th Estate) and Fiona McGregor starts a duet about the life of Sydney petty criminal Iris Webber in Iris (October, Picador).

Also expect novels from Craig Sherborne (The Grass Hotel, February, Text), Dominique Wilson (Orphan Rock, March, Transit Lounge), Michelle Cahill (Daisy and Woolf, April, Hachette), Steve Toltz (Here Goes Nothing, May, PRH), Tom Keneally (Dancing the Liberty Dance, August, PRH), Jock Serong (The Settlement, September, Text), Inga Simpson (Willowman, November, Hachette), Gail Jones (TBC, November, Text) and Gregory Day (The Bell in the World, December, Transit Lounge).

Advertisement

We’re sure to hear plenty about Jessica Au’s poignant Cold Enough for Snow, which won the inaugural The Novel Prize from more than 1500 entries and will be published globally by three publishers in February including in Australia by Giramondo. Look out for two other rising stars of Australian literary fiction: Robert Lukins, who follows his critically acclaimed debut The Everlasting Saturday with Loveland (Allen & Unwin, March) and Jay Carmichael, who returns after Ironbark with Marlo, 1953 (August, Scribe).

Alexis Wright will publish Praiseworthy.

Alexis Wright will publish Praiseworthy.Credit:Janie Barrett

Expect bestsellers in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart author Holly Ringland’s The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding (June, 4th Estate) and The Dictionary of Lost Words author Pip Williams′ The Bookbinder of Jericho (November, Affirm). Also joining the second novel club is Hilde Hinton (The Loudness of Unsaid Things, April, Hachette), Victoria Hannan (Marshmallow, September, Hachette) and Tom Lee (Object Coach, November, Upswell).

Mandy Beaumont follows her acclaimed short story collection Wild, Fearless Chests with The Furies (February, Hachette) described as “Charlotte Wood meets Maid in a brutal Outback town”, while Yumna Kassab follows her short story collection The House of Yusif with Australiana (March, Ultimo), set in a single town and structured like 1001 Nights.

Heading in the opposite direction with short story collections are Stone Sky Gold Mountain novelist Mirandi Riwoe (The Burnished Sun, April, UQP) and Mammoth author Chris Flynn (Here Be Leviathans, second half, UQP).

Yumna Kassab will publish Australiana.

Yumna Kassab will publish Australiana.Credit:

International fiction

Advertisement

The reading year gets off to a strong start with Hanya Yanagihara’s highly anticipated first novel since 2015’s A Little Life tore apart critics and book clubbers alike. To Paradise (January, Picador) promises to be equally epic (and divisive) spanning three different versions of America in 1893, 1993 and 2093. Booker Prize-winner Marlon James returns with Moon Witch, Spider King (March, PRH), the second in his Dark Star trilogy billed as the African Game of Thrones. More than a decade after we fell in love with A Visit From the Goon Squad, the novel’s characters reappear in Jennifer Egan’s sibling novel The Candy House (April, Hachette). If you’ve finally rinsed off the mud and grime of Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart’s second novel Young Mungo (April, Picador) promises another vivid portrait of working-class life, focusing on the love story between two men.

Marlon James will publish the second novel in his trilogy.

Marlon James will publish the second novel in his trilogy.

Other highlights include Isabel Allende (Violeta, January, Bloomsbury), Monica Ali (Love Marriage, February, Hachette), Anne Tyler (French Braid, March, PRH), Julian Barnes (Elizabeth Finch, April, PRH), Emily St John Mandel (Sea of Tranquility, April, Picador), Lisa Taddeo (Ghost Lover, June, Bloomsbury), Ottessa Moshfegh (Lapvona, July, PRH), Zadie Smith (The Fraud, September, PRH) and Jonathan Safran Foer (Escape From Children’s Hospital, October, PRH).

New voices already attracting interest include “once in a generation” debutant Leila Mottley (Nightcrawling, May, Bloomsbury), Xochitl Gonzalez (Olga Dies Dreaming, January, Hachette), Daphne Palasi Andreades (Brown Girls, January, 4th Estate), Jessamine Chan (The School for Good Mothers, January, Simon and Schuster) and Jean Chen Ho (Fiona and Jane, January, PRH).

Debut Australian fiction

The past few years have shown the appetite for new writers telling new stories in new ways. Publishers have cottoned on, with plenty of strong debut offerings on their forward lists. Poet Omar Sakr makes his move into fiction with Son of Sin (February, Affirm) about Jamal Smith, a young queer Muslim trying to escape his past. Ashley Goldberg’s Abomination (May, PRH), is a story of two best friends whose school, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Yahel Academy, is rocked by scandal. Emily Brugman’s The Islands (February, A&U) is the story of the Saari family, Finnish migrants who set up camp on an island off the coast of Western Australia in the mid-1950s.

Rhett Davis, winner of the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, will make a bold genre-crossing, style-slipping debut with Hovering (February, Hachette), in which a neighbourhood wakes up to find the streets have rearranged themselves. Similarly ambitious is Pirooz Jafari’s Forty Nights (July, Ultimo), which spans continents and centuries to examine the consequences of dislocation.

Advertisement

Poet Omar Sakr will publish Son of Sin.

Poet Omar Sakr will publish Son of Sin.Credit:James Alcock

Jessica Stanley’s A Great Hope (February, Picador) unfolds in the aftermath of the death of the fictional political titan John Clare; George Haddad will look at migrant identity, sexuality and consent in the western Sydney-based Losing Face (May, UQP) and Brooke Dunnell’s Fogarty Literary Award-winning The Glass House (November, Fremantle Press) is about a woman who takes a break from her troubled marriage to help her father.

Other debutants include Al Campbell (The Keepers, February, UQP), Lizzie Pook (Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, February, PRH), Sandy Gordon (Leaving Owl Creek, February, Finlay Lloyd), Isobel Beech (Sunbathing, May, A&U), Brendan Colley (The Signal Line, May, Transit Lounge), Adriane Howell (Hydra, August, Transit Lounge) and Alan Fyfe (T, September, Transit Lounge). Sam Wallman will also publish his debut graphic novel about unionism, Our Members Be Unlimited (May, Scribe).

For a laugh, try Justin Smith’s Cooper Not Out (January, PRH), Megan Albany’s The Very Last List of Vivian Walker (February, Hachette), Kimberley Allsopp’s Love and Other Puzzles (February, HarperCollins), James Weir’s The Hemsworth Effect (June, S&S) and Clare Fletcher’s Five Bush Weddings (September, PRH).

On the short story front, keep your eye out for Ennis Cehic’s Sadvertising (March, PRH), Else Fitzgerald’s Everything Feels Like the End of the World (April, A&U), Maria Samuela’s Beats of the Pa’u (March, Victoria University Press) and Kat Gibson’s Women I Know (May, Scribner).

Thrills and chills

Advertisement

Australia’s golden age of crime writing continues in 2022. Dervla McTiernan, who reeled us in with Detective Cormac Reilly in her 2018 debut The Ruin, has a standalone The Murder Rule (May, HarperCollins), The Chain author Adrian McKinty has a high-concept thriller The Island (June, Hachette), Michael Robotham has the third in his Cyrus Haven series, Lying Beside You (July, Hachette), bestseller J.P. Pomare releases The Wrong Woman (August, Hachette) and The Bluffs author Kyle Perry is back with his third novel with The Wild (August, PRH).

Dervla McTiernan has a new crime standalone called The Murder Rule out in May.

Dervla McTiernan has a new crime standalone called The Murder Rule out in May.Credit:Wolter Peeters

Commentator Jane Caro makes her adult fiction debut with domestic thriller The Mother (March, A&U), while Michael Trant’s first novel Wild Dogs (February, PRH) is described as “Lee Child meets No Country for Old Men”. Other writers getting their hands bloody for the first time include Nina D. Campbell with feminist revenge thriller Daughters of Eve (March, A&U), Rae Cairns with The Good Mother (April, HarperCollins) and Shelley Burr with Wake (June, Hachette). The crop of literary prizes is harvested with Banjo Prize-winner Dinuka McKenzie’s The Torrent (February, HarperCollins), Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award-winner Hayley Scrivenor’s Dirt Town (June, Macmillan) and Penguin Literary Prize-winner James McKenzie Watson’s Denizen (July, PRH).

Michael Levitt puts the art world in the frame in his debut The Gallerist (February, Fremantle Press), Lyn McFarlane’s The Scarlett Cross (April, Pantera Press) is about a nurse who gets embroiled in a murder mystery and in Angela Meyer’s Moon Sugar (October, Transit Lounge), a woman hires a “sugar baby” who goes missing on a European holiday.

Dolly Parton will publish a thriller, Run Rose Run, out in March.

Dolly Parton will publish a thriller, Run Rose Run, out in March.Credit:AP

Other local writers with releases include Ben SandersExit.45 (January, A&U), Maryrose Cuskelly’s The Cane (February, A&U), Saga Land co-author Kari Gislason’s The Sorrow Stone (March, UQP), Kelli HawkinsAll She Wants (March, HarperCollins), Aoife Clifford’s When We Fall (March, Ultimo) and Dave Warner (After the Flood, August, Fremantle Press). Internationally, expect novels from all the regulars, with the prize for most unlikely foray into chills and thrills going to Dolly Parton, who will co-author with James Patterson a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the run (Run Rose Run, March, PRH).

Big issues

Advertisement

Strap yourself in for some serious national self-reflection with election-year reads including Aaron Patrick’s account of current and former prime ministers (Revenge, June, HarperCollins), Ed Coper on disinformation (Facts and Other Lies, February, A&U), Jo Dyer on the need to rethink our political system (Burning Down the House, February, Monash University Press), Allan Behm on Australia’s diplomatic relationships (No Enemies, No Friends, March, Upswell), Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonnor on education (Waiting for Gonski: How Australian Failed its Schools, March, UNSW Press), Julianne Schultz on our national identity (The Idea of Australia, March, A&U), Samantha Maiden on the Canberra bubble (Open Secrets, TBC, HarperCollins), Matthew Ricketson and Patrick Mullins on the public broadcaster (Who Needs the ABC?, April Scribe), Osman Faruqi on the history of Australian racism (The Racist Country, August, PRH) and Chris Wallace on prime ministers and their biographers (The Silken Cord, August, NewSouth).

Osman Faruqi will publish a book about the history of racism in Australia, The Racist Country, in August.

Osman Faruqi will publish a book about the history of racism in Australia, The Racist Country, in August.

Speaking of prime ministers, Kevin Rudd will look at the US-China relationship in The Avoidable War (March, Hachette). Another former politician, Joe Hockey, is sure to ruffle feathers with his book Diplomatic (March, HarperCollins). Keeping on theme, diplomat Henry Kissinger analyses how five leaders he has known shaped their countries and the world in Leadership (May, PRH).

As well as politicians, we’ve heard a lot from Dr Norman Swan this year, who will publish So You Want To Live Younger Longer? (July, Hachette). Inspired by two years of COVID-19 chaos, former Sunrise host Melissa Doyle brings together the stories of those who have weathered hardship in Fifteen Seconds of Brave (November, PRH).

Former ambassador to the US Joe Hockey will have a book out.

Former ambassador to the US Joe Hockey will have a book out.Credit:Evelyn Hockstein

The pandemic put pressure on the home front, and in The Most Important Job in the World (April, Pan Macmillan), Gina Rushton looks at making the decision to become a mother. Sonia Orchard explores the “science of womanhood” in The Female of the Species (September, Affirm), Tabitha Carvan looks at the role of joy in women’s lives in This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch (March, HarperCollins) and artist Eloise Grills will publish Big Beautiful Female Theory (July, Affirm).

Other highlights include Phillipa McGuinness′ exploration of skin (Skin Deep, March, PRH), Sophie Smith’s take on the world’s most famous cycling race (Inside Le Tour, June, Ultimo), Tim Low on introduced species (Imported Trouble, July, Scribner), Elise Bohan on transhumanism (Future Superhuman, May, NewSouth), Danielle Clode’s look at our favourite furry creature (Koala: A Life in Trees, August, Black Inc.) and Andrew Quilty on Afghanistan (Fall of Kabul, August, MUP)

Norman Swan will release a new book.

Norman Swan will release a new book.Credit:Nic Walker

Memoir, personal essays

Double Booker Prize-winner Margaret Atwood collects more than 50 pieces on all kinds of topics in Burning Questions (March, PRH). Atwood isn’t the only literary royalty with non-fiction out: Haruki Murakami releases Novelist as a Vocation (August, PRH) and Elena Ferrante publishes In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing (March, A&U). Actual royalty also delivers, with Prince Harry’s bound-to-be-controversial memoir (TBC, second half, PRH). We’ll have a memoir from another icon, Paul Newman, after new transcripts were uncovered after his death (TBC, PRH).

Musician Nick Cave will reflect on his son Arthur’s death in Faith, Hope and Carnage (October, Text), co-written with journalist Sean O’Hagan and drawn from more than 40 hours of conversation between the pair.

In a break with tradition, Prince Harry will publish a memoir.

In a break with tradition, Prince Harry will publish a memoir.Credit:AP

Other Australians with memoirs en route are comedian Hannah Gadsby (Ten Steps to Nanette, April, A&U), Magda Szubanski (second half, Text), broadcaster Tom Tilley (Speaking in Tongues, September, ABC Books) and Jason Om (All Mixed Up, April, ABC Books), AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson (The Lives of Brian, April, PRH), producer Anita Jacoby (Secrets Beyond the Screen, May, Ventura), Black Comedy star Aaron Fa’Aoso (So Far, So Good, September, Pantera Press), activist Brittany Higgins (October, PRH), chef Matt Preston (Big Mouth, November, PRH) and author Anita Heiss (Am I Black Enough For You?, April, PRH). Kylie Moore-Gilbert, the Melbourne academic who spent two years in jail in Iran after being sentenced on espionage charges, has an as-yet-untitled memoir (April, Ultimo).

Celebrated pianist Simon Tedeschi’s first book Fugitive (May, Upswell) “straddles the borders of poetry and prose, fiction and fact, trauma and testimony”. Sportspeople with stories to spin include rugby league and union star Mat Rogers (A Father’s Son, August, S&S) and AFL star Eddie Betts (My Journey, August).

Brittany Higgins will also release a memoir.

Brittany Higgins will also release a memoir.Credit:Trent Mitchell

Other local highlights include veteran biographer Brenda Niall’s tackling her life story in My Accidental Career (March, Text), Wendy McCarthy’s timely Don’t Be Too Polite, Girls (March, A&U), Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell’s collaborative creation Mothertongues (April, PRH), Patti Miller on friendship in True Friends (April, UQP), Bastian Fox Phelan’s exploration of gender, facial hair and polycystic ovarian syndrome How to Be Between (May, Giramondo), Sian Prior on living without children in Childless (April, Text), Carmel Bird’s Telltale: Reading, Writing, Remembering (July, Transit Lounge), Lee Kofman’s The Writer Laid Bare (March, Ventura), Jessie Cole’s memoir of the body Desire (August, Text) and Chloe Hooper’s guide to how to talk to children about loss, Bedtime Story (September, Scribner).

Essay collections to look out for includeWe’ve Got This (ed by Eliza Hull, March, Black Inc) by parents who identify as deaf, disabled or chronically ill, Eda Gunaydin on race, genre and migration in Root and Branch (May, NewSouth), Growing Up in Country Australia (ed by Rick Morton, April, Black Inc), Pantera Press’ collection of writers longlisted for the Liminal Fiction Prize (Archive, August) and Kim Mahood’s reflections on Wandering with Intent (October, Scribe).

Lee Kofman’s The Writer Laid Bare is out in March.

Lee Kofman’s The Writer Laid Bare is out in March.

Biography, history

Paddy Manning, who has penned biographies of Malcolm Turnbull and Nathan Tinkler, takes on media heir Lachlan Murdoch in his unauthorised biography Sly Fox (November, Black Inc). Journalist Troy Bramston’s biography of Australia’s 23rd prime minister, Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny (March, PRH), includes the last interviews he gave and draws on a trove of personal papers and interviews with family and friends. We’re also looking forward to Miles Franklin-winning novelist Anna Funder’s take on the overlooked life of George Orwell’s first wife, Eileen, in Wifedom (September, PRH), billed as a “blazing feminist masterpiece”.

Australian history highlights include David Marr turning his pen to our colonial past in A Family Business (November, Black Inc), Kate Grenville’s non-fiction accompaniment to her bestselling novel A Room Made of Leaves, Elizabeth Macarthur’s Letters (April, Text), Don Watson’s The Passion of Private White (October, Scribner) looks at the 50-year-old relationship between the anthropologist and veteran Neville White and Aboriginal clans of remote northern Australia, and Anna Clark’s Making Australian History (February, PRH).

Don Watson’s The Passion of Private White is out in October.

Don Watson’s The Passion of Private White is out in October.Credit:Louis Trerise

Mike Carlton heads to the Mediterranean with The Scrap Iron Flotilla (August, PRH), while Peter FitzSimons steps off the battlefront to examine the history of an icon in The Opera House (April, Hachette). Also on the history front, Meg Foster looks at Aboriginal, African-American, Chinese and female bushrangers (Boundary Crossers, November, NewSouth), Duane Hamacher explores the knowledge of the stars held by First Peoples in The First Astronomers (March, A&U), David Duffy draws on new research for Nabbing Ned Kelly (March, A&U), Alastair Paton looks at our natural history in Of Marsupials and Men (June, Black Inc), Leah Lui-Chivizhe explores Masked Histories: Turtle Shell Masks and Torres Straight Islander People (July, MUP) and Elizabeth Tynan uncovers the story of the first British atomic test site in South Australia in The Secret of Emu Field (May, NewSouth).

If you’ve made it this far in the list, you’re probably interested in Australian letters, so look out for Nathan Hobby’s biography of novelist, journalist and activist Katharine Susannah Prichard, The Red Witch (May, MUP), Ann-Marie Priest’s biography of poet Gwen Harwood, My Tongue is My Own (May, La Trobe University Press) and Meanjin’s second editor Jim Davidson’s examination of the contribution of two literary journals and their editors Emperors in Liliput: Clem Christesen of Meanjin and Stephen Murray-Smith of Overland (October, MUP).

Anna Funder will explore the overlooked life of George Orwell’s first wife, Eileen, in Wifedom out in September.

Anna Funder will explore the overlooked life of George Orwell’s first wife, Eileen, in Wifedom out in September.

Musician Keith Urban is the subject of Jeff Apter’s latest (March, A&U). Abroad, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Tolouse Olorunnipa offer the first account of George Floyd’s life and legacy in His Name is George Floyd (May, PRH), Tina Brown looks at the royal family over the past two decades in The Palace Papers (PRH, March) while James Patterson looks at Diana, William and Harry (August, Hachette) and we’re excited for Katherine Rundell’s Super-infinite: The Transformations of John Donne (April, A&U).

Poetry

Poetry publishing is strong — more than 50 volumes were entered in this year’s Prime Ministers Literary Awards. A highlight will be Les Murray’s final posthumous collection of poems, Continous Creation, to be published by Black Inc in March.

Giramondo’s offerings include Adam Aitken’s Revenants (February), Tracy Ryan’s Rose Interior (April) and Lisa Gorton’s Mirabilia (August). QUP’s list includes Sarah Holland-Batt’s The Jaguar (May), Rae White’s Exactly As I Am (second half) and Janaka Malwatta’s Blackbirds Don’t Mate with Starlings (second half).

Lisa Gorton’s ’s Mirabilia is out in August.

Lisa Gorton’s ’s Mirabilia is out in August.Credit:Simon O’Dwyer

John Kinsella and Charmaine Papertalk-Green will publish Art (June, Magabala Books), with Kinsella also releasing the first, The Ascension of Sheep, Collected Poems Volume One (1980-2005), of three collected poetry volumes with UWA Publishing in February. Upswell’s exciting list includes Marjon Mossammaparast’s And to Ecstasy (March), Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s Clean (March) and Marion May Campbell’s Languish (April). Bron Bateman’s Blue Wren and Andrew Sutherland’s Paradise (Point of Transmission) are out in August from Fremantle Press.

Internationally, Vietnamese-American writer Ocean Vuong’s collection Time is a Mother (April, PRH) is bound to attract a broad readership. The author’s 2020 debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous was an indie hit.

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from books editor Jason Steger. Get it delivered every Friday.

Most Viewed in Culture