Before we get any further into 2022, I want to feature a handful of this year’s fiction releases that are on my radar. While I will be starting the new year with the intention of focusing on the books from my shelves (yet again), there are quite a few 2022 Fiction releases that have caught my interest. And by the end of this post, you may consider adding some to your own TBR list.
I have specified Fiction releases because I didn’t want this post to be too long (by adding poetry or essay collections) and because it is the genre I read the most. Additionally, I am not making any binding declarations to read most of the following books in 2022 – I’m just simply excited to have these new books on my ever-lengthening TBR.
So without further ado, here are 22 of my most anticipated Fiction releases of 2022 (in order of their U.S. release date).
Outcasts of the Wildwood | Rachel Atwood
Joan is Okay | Wike Wang
One Day, One Day Congotay | Merle Hodge
Merle Hodge’s rare achievement is to create a dynamic portrait of the life of an unquestionably good woman: Gwynneth Cuffie, teacher, lover of children and music, and pillar of her community.
Though devastated by tragedy in her politically militant youth, Gwynneth never gives up the struggle against colonialism on the Caribbean island of Cayeri. Her triumph is to find a way between the aspirations of her wounded father, whom colonial education has taught racial self-hatred, and the world of her Mumma’s Spiritual Baptist community where, though the church is banned, Africa remains a real, enlivening presence. It is from the rhythms of Africa that the local youth, whom Teacher Gwynnie supports, develop the iron bands that grow into the national culture of steelband. If the class and racial tensions within the Cuffie family continue through the generations, Merle Hodge offers another vision of family that has little to do with biology, and everything to do with love. This is the family that gathers on the Cuffies’ gallery: the two men with whom the sisters have deep friendships, but from whom they maintain their independence; their neighbours – and Sonny, the child of Mumma’s carer who has left him in the sisters’ capable hands. It is Sonny, the pinnacle of Gwynneth’s life work, who promises to hold the future to account.
This richly womanist novel shows the constant interpenetration of past, present and future. Its subject is life – tragic and comic – but moved onward by people who believe that through struggle better must come. It has much to say, by implication, about the present.
- Merle Hodge is credited as the first black Caribbean woman to have published a major work of fiction; it’s likely that this latest release will become a literary classic too.
The Violence | Delilah S. Dawson
Three generations of abused women must navigate their chilling new reality as a mysterious epidemic of violence sweeps the nation in this compelling novel of self-discovery, legacy, and hope.
Black Cake | Charmaine Wilkerson
In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past—a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.
Jawbone | Mónica Ojeda
Fernanda and Annelise are so close they are practically sisters: a double image, inseparable. So how does Fernanda end up bound on the floor of a deserted cabin, held hostage by one of her teachers and estranged from Annelise?
When Fernanda, Annelise, and their friends from the Delta Bilingual Academy convene after school, Annelise leads them in thrilling but increasingly dangerous rituals to a rhinestoned, Dior-scented, drag-queen god of her own invention. Even more perilous is the secret Annelise and Fernanda share, rooted in a dare in which violence meets love. Meanwhile, their literature teacher Miss Clara, who is obsessed with imitating her dead mother, struggles to preserve her deteriorating sanity. Each day she edges nearer to a total break with reality.
Interweaving pop culture references and horror concepts drawn from Herman Melville, H. P. Lovecraft, and anonymous “creepypastas,” Jawbone is an ominous, multivocal novel that explores the terror inherent in the pure potentiality of adolescence and the fine line between desire and fear.
- I get the impression that this synopsis—though well-written—is unable to accurately describe what the novel is truly about, which is something that makes me want to read it even more. Plus, how can you deny the intrigue of the cover?
The Swimmers | Julie Otsuka
The River of Silver | S.A. Chakraborty (read by Soneela Nankani)
Bestselling author S.A. Chakraborty’s acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy gets expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, all from the perspective of characters both beloved and hated, and even those without a voice in the novels. The River of Silvergathers material both seen and new—including a special coda fans will need to read—making this the perfect complement to those incredible novels.
A prospective new queen joins a court whose lethal history may overwhelm her own political savvy…
An imprisoned royal from a fallen dynasty and a young woman wrenched from her home cross paths in an enchanted garden…
A pair of scouts stumble upon a secret in a cursed winter wood that will turn over their world…
Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.
- I’m hoping to finish The Empire of Gold before this addition to the Daevabad series is released; and certainly before the hardcover and ebook are released in the fall.
Tell Me An Ending | Jo Harkin
- I enjoy speculative fiction, though what drew me to this novel in particular is the “polyphonic” descriptor in the synopsis. After spending some time trying to understand what polyphony is in the context of music (its origin), I think I sort of understand what it means in the context of literature. I’m sure I will really understand if I end up reading this novel this year…
The Old Woman With The Knife | Gu Byeong-Mo (Pagwa translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim)
At sixty-five, Hornclaw is beginning to slow down. She lives modestly in a small apartment, with only her aging dog, a rescue named Deadweight, to keep her company. There are expectations for people her age—that she’ll retire and live out the rest of her days quietly. But Hornclaw is not like other people. She is an assassin.
Double-crossers, corporate enemies, cheating spouses—for the past four decades, Hornclaw has killed them all with ruthless efficiency, and the less she’s known about her targets, the better. But now, nearing the end of her career, she has just slipped up. An injury leads her to an unexpected connection with a doctor and his family. But emotions, for an assassin, are a dangerous proposition. As Hornclaw’s world closes in, this final chapter in her career may also mark her own bloody end.
A sensation in South Korea, and now translated into English for the first time by Chi-Young Kim, The Old Woman with the Knife is an electrifying, singular, mordantly funny novel about the expectations imposed on aging bodies and the dramatic ways in which one woman chooses to reclaim her agency.
- Is it possible to be obsessed with a book after only reading the synopsis? Yes, yes it is.
The Book of Cold Cases | Simone St. James
Fencing With The King | Diana Abu-Jaber
Amani is hooked on a mystery—a poem on airmail paper that slips out of one of her father’s books. It seems to have been written by her grandmother, a refugee who arrived in Jordan during the First World War. Soon the perfect occasion to investigate arises: her Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King of Jordan, invites her father to celebrate the king’s sixtieth birthday—and to fence with the king, as in their youth. Her father has avoided returning to his homeland for decades, but Amani persuades him to come with her. Uncle Hafez will make their time in Jordan complicated—and dangerous—after Amani discovers a missing relative and is launched into a journey of loss, history, and, eventually, a fight for her own life.
Fencing with the King masterfully draws on King Lear and Arthurian fable to explore the power of inheritance, the trauma of displacement, and whether we can release the past to build a future.
- I’m hoping this novel is as intricate as the synopsis seems to imply; it sounds like a consuming story, in all the best ways.
When I Sing, Mountains Dance | Irene Solà (translated from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem)
Near a village high in the Pyrenees, Domènec wanders across a ridge, fancying himself more a poet than a farmer, to “reel off his verses over on this side of the mountain.” He gathers black chanterelles, attends to a troubled cow. And then storm clouds swell, full of electrifying power. Reckless, gleeful, they release their bolts of lightning, one of which strikes Domènec. He dies. The ghosts of seventeenth-century witches gather around him, taking up the chanterelles he’d harvested before going on their merry ways. So begins this novel that is as much about the mountains and the mushrooms as it is about the human dramas that unfold in their midst.
When I Sing, Mountains Dance, winner of the European Union Prize, is a giddy paean to the land in all its interconnectedness, and in it Sola finds a distinct voice for each extraordinary consciousness: the lightning bolts, roe-deer, mountains, the ghosts of the civil war, the widow Sió and later her grown children, Hilari and Mia, as well as Mia’s lovers with their long-buried secrets and their hidden pain.
Irene Solà animates the polyphonic world around us, the fierce music of the seasons, as well as the stories we tell to comprehend loss and love on a personal, historical, and even geological scale. Lyrical, elemental, and mythic, hers is a fearlessly imaginative new voice that brilliantly renders both our tragedies and our triumphs.
- Another polyphonic novel—have I encountered this word before and just forgotten? Regardless, the synopsis makes this novel sound extraordinarily poetic and maybe a bit abstract; I had to put it on this list.
When We Were Birds | Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
Sea of Tranquility | Emily St. John Mandel
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.
- Emily St. John Mandel has a spot on this list for the same reason Simone St. James does. Although this novel does not directly follow Station Eleven, the impression that novel left on me makes Emily St. John Mandel a must-add.
When the Crow’s Away | Auralee Wallace
The ghost of a recently deceased chocolatier believes he was murdered, and it’s up to young witch Brynn Warren to use her magical gifts and old-fashioned sleuthing skills to find out how he really met his bitter end in this enchanting new Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery.
After spending months unable to use her powers, Brynn Warren is once again using her gift and working at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. Her heart is full, and although one of her aunts wonders if it might be a little more full with a bit of romance in her life, Brynn is certain that finding love again is not in her future. In fact, she can’t imagine anyone being more certain of anything…except for maybe, the recently deceased Mortimer Sweete. He’s certain he’s been murdered, and he wants Brynn’s help to bring his killer to justice.
Mort is positive he knows who killed him: his business partner’s wife, Cookie, who had been trying to get them to sell the candy shop for months. But Brynn doesn’t share his conviction. After all, the coroner ruled his death natural causes, and Mort did have health problems in life. But with Cookie putting up a For Sale sign for the shop already, Brynn knows she can’t just let it go.
Trying to solve a might-be murder while attempting to stop her aunt from meddling in her personal life seems like a recipe for disaster. If Brynn wants to bring Mort’s spirit peace, she’ll have to rely on all her skills—both magical and mundane—to uncover the truth.
- The first book in this series caught my eye in a bookstore last year, and I am thrilled that the sequel is being released so soon. I’ll be sure to review it in the spring (read my review of In the Company of Witches here).
Kaikeyi | Vaishnavi Patel
“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”
So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.
Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.
But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.
- This is a mythic retelling of Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic; I hope to become more familiar with the source material before the book is delivered to my mailbox….
The Hacienda | Isabel Cañas
The Final Strife | Saara El-Arifi
Night of the Living Rez | Morgan Talty
Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy.
In twelve striking, luminescent stories, author Morgan Talty—with searing humor, abiding compassion, and deep insight—breathes life into tales of family and community bonds as they struggle with a painful past and an uncertain future. A boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family’s unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s projects the past onto her grandson, and thinks he is her dead brother come back to life; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs.
In a collection that examines the consequences and merits of inheritance, Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of a Native community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction.
- I’m excited to see a Maine author appear on a few 2022 Anticipated lists across the web, especially for a story collection centering around the Penobscot Nation.
Silk Fire | Zabé Ellor
Set in a planet-sized matriarchal city where magic and technology freely bleed together, a male courtesan’s quest for vengeance against his aristocrat father draws him into an ancient struggle between dragons, necromancers, and his home district’s violent history.
Koré knew that meddling in politics could end badly, particularly when trying to sabotage his aristocratic father’s campaign before it destroys the city he has come to love. And when a chance encounter with a dying god imbues him with magic-breathing powers, it gets worse: he suddenly becomes a commodity – and a political player.
But the corruption in his city runs deeper than just one man, and an ally’s betrayal unleashes an army of the dead on his home street. Koré must trust the world with his deepest secret to stand beside the woman and man he’s finally let himself love, as only the bright truth of dragon’s fire can break the iron fist of a necromancer’s hold.
- As short as this synopsis is, it’s unlike many fantasy novel descriptions. Nevermind that the cover is carrying that snake trend into 2022; I have high expectations for all 475 pages.
Glimpse: An Anthology of Black British Speculative Fiction | edited by Leone Ross
This anthology creates a dichotomy between the comfortable and the mysterious, providing a glimpse into hidden worlds and human nature; tantalizing in its mystique and refreshing in its insight into the minds of these exceptional Black British writers. It provides us with the opportunity to see what was previously unknown and to learn from what we see; to grow from what begins as a partial view but quickly transforms into the larger perspective. Secrets are uncovered; creatures are found; bodies buckle, whisper, float. In these stories we glimpse the dark and the light.
The contributors include award winning and internationally renowned fiction writers, poets and visual artists: Patience Agbabi, Muli Amaye, Alinah Azadeh, Judith Bryan, Patricia Cumper, Joshuah Idehen, Peter Kalu, Ronnie McGrath, Cedar Montieth, Chantal Oakes, Irenosen Okojie, Koye Oyedeji, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Jada Pearl, Aisha Phoenix, Akila Richards, Ioney Smallhorne, Melissa Wagner and Gemma Weekes.
- Speculative fiction and short stories is another one of my favorite combinations, so this was another must-add.
Are you excited about any of these books? Which new releases are you looking forward to reading, or at least adding to your TBR? Recommend any and all of them in the comments.