Top ten books for 2014

Irvine Welsh
Category: Reading

If you made a resolution to read more this year, you’re in luck: 2014 is set to be a good year for bibliophiles. Literary heavyweights to look out for include Hanif Kureishi, Martin Amis and Sarah Waters, while hot new talents Emma Jane Unsworth and Hanya Yanagihara contribute to the bookish feast. I’m personally biting my nails in anticipation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Carthage in July, Irvine Welsh’s The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins in May, and the launch of the new David Mitchell in September.


Here are a few books to look forward to in the coming months:

Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees, Atlantic, January

The New York Times describes Yanagihara as ‘a writer to marvel at’. Critically acclaimed in the US, her first novel is loosely based on the true story of a scientist who wins the Nobel Prize for a breakthrough that could aid humanity, but whose career ends in disgrace when he is convicted of child abuse.


Hanif Kureishi, The Last Word, Faber, February

Kureishi’s new novel echoes VS Naipaul’s experience with biographer Patrick French in telling the tale of an ageing Indian writer grappling with an enthusiastic young biographer and the problem of truth.


Guilt cover
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Guilt, Michael Joseph, February

Winner of the Glass Key award for crime fiction, Adler-Olsen is also the holder of Golden Laurels, Denmark’s highest literary crime award. The latest in the Department Q series, Guilt is a Scandinavian crime novel perfect for fans of The Killing.


Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things, Canongate, October

It has been more than 10 years since the publication of Faber’s bestselling last novel, The Crimson Petal and the White, and his new book will gain extra impetus from the film version of Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, which is due for release in March. Details of the plot are a closely guarded secret until closer to publication.


Animals, Emma Jane Unsworth, Canongate, May

Tipped as ‘Withnail with girls’ by Caitlin Moran, Emma Jane Unsworth’s debut novel follows the symbiotic relationship between two friends taking on adulthood with the aid of copious amounts of alcohol and drugs. Their lives are thrown off balance by Laura’s fiancé’s decision to give up drink, and things spiral out of control.


The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins cover
Irvine Welsh, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, Jonathan Cape, May

This sounds like a contender for the 2014 Diagram prize for the oddest book title. Due out in May, Welsh promises ‘swampy Floridian lesbian noir’, a foul-mouthed protagonist and lashings of depravity, sex and food in this examination of our obsessions with looks and lifestyle.


Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird, Picador, March

Oyeyemi was selected as one of the Granta Best British Novelists of 2013. Her new novel retells the Snow White legend as Boy, stepmother to Snow, discovers on the birth of her daughter that her husband and stepdaughter are light-skinned black Americans passing themselves off as white in 1950s Massachusetts.


David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks, Sceptre, September

In his first novel since 2010’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2011 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell returns to his trademark fractured narrative to tell the tale of Holly Sykes, who witnesses the stages of a war between mysterious soul-decanters and vigilantes against a backdrop of climate chaos.


Joyce Carol Oates, Carthage, Fourth Estate, July

Carthage cover

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific writer of consistently outstanding novels, including Blonde, about the life of Marilyn Monroe, Foxfire, a stunning novel about girl gangs, and We Were the Mulvaneys. She is America’s answer to Margaret Atwood. Her hotly anticipated new novel, Carthage, tells of a missing girl, a damaged Iraq War veteran, and a family torn apart.


Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests, Virago, September

Waters has been shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange prizes and remains one of the best British novelists writing today. The Paying Guests takes on the 1920s after Waters’ dazzlingly successful forays into Victoriana and the 1940s in previous books. As distressed gentlefolk are forced by the post-war upheaval into taking in lodgers, the disturbance to the lives of the family have far-reaching consequences...  

Which books are you most looking forward to reading this year? Share your picks in the comments below!

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