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The Best Fiction Books to Look Forward to in 2021

Posted on 28th December 2020 by Mark Skinner

We are proud to unveil our top picks from the forthcoming year's smorgasbord of fiction publishing. From contemporary fiction, where Kazuo Ishiguro, Sally Rooney and Kate Mosse return with dazzling new works, to exciting new debuts, and from page-turning crime, which includes the eagerly-anticipated new novel from Paula Hawkins, to cutting edge science fiction and fantasy from the likes of Sarah J. Maas and Andy Weir, 2021 promises to be a truly magnificent year for bookworms everywhere.  

Fiction

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A luminous new novel from the Nobel Prize-winning author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day, Klara and the Sun explores the uncharted implications of AI to human relationships and the abiding question of what it means to love.

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One of contemporary literature’s brightest talents follows up the former Waterstones Book of the Year Normal People with an incisive and affecting dissection of the lives and loves of a quartet of young friends in Dublin and west of Ireland.
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Ranging across three generations of women and embracing themes of love, regret and self-discovery this sweeping novel from the author of Hideous Kinky is a hymn to female longing and relationships.
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Once more bending fictional forms to his will, Murakami delivers a hypnotic collection of short stories ranging from jazz to baseball to intricately crafted dreamscapes, all narrated in the first person.
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The second captivating instalment of the Burning Chambers series finds Minou and her family facing ever greater peril as sixteenth-century France is plunged once more into religious strife and regal intrigue.

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The author of The Doll Factory serves up another slice of gothic Victoriana centred upon a girl who is kidnapped only to be thrust into the world of the circus.
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A luminous feat of imagination from the acclaimed author of All the Light We Cannot See, Cloud Cuckoo Land traces five unforgettable characters through three distinct time periods, all connected by a prized copy of a mysterious ancient text.

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Following three friends through twelve transformational months, Double Blind is an expansive and generous meditation on inheritance, freedom and the stories we tell ourselves, from the author of the Patrick Melrose novels.
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The award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things delivers a profoundly humane and engrossing exploration of an Antarctic researcher brought low by tragedy and desperate to communicate with the outside world.
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From the author of Golden Hill comes a tender, endlessly inventive novel that resurrects five children killed in a wartime bomb-blast and asks what kind of a future these working-class youths would have had.
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One of our most lyrical novelists brings his rich facility for language and psychological insight to the final hours of the great painter Francis Bacon, in this majestic tour de force.
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The culmination of Weir’s sweeping Tudor saga focuses on the last of Henry VIII’s sextet of wives, Katharine Parr, and tells a compelling tale of religious suppression, unrequited love and regal duty.
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A much-anticipated second novel from the award-winning author of Homegoing, Transcendent Kingdom charts the experiences of a Ghanaian immigrant family in modern America.

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Marbled with magical effects, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is a story about love, vanishing and finding ways to survive, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
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Almost Dickensian in style and scope, Mozley’s rumbustious second novel revolves around the inhabitants of a Soho brothel and their determination to thwart a ruthless property developer.
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The unparalleled master of the historical epic returns with a sweeping evocation of China from the Opium Wars of nineteenth century to the global powerhouse of the present day.
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A blistering recreation of the capital at the tail end of the 1970s, Quinn’s visceral narrative finds four strangers caught up in a perfect storm of strikes, bombings and punk rock as a nation shifts irrevocably to the right.
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Debuts

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The debut novel from the author of the bestselling phenomenon Three Women centres on Joan, the most provocative and mesmerising narrator you will encounter in 2021.
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Following the news that their abusive mother has died in prison, Lex and her siblings must face the horrors of their past once more in this arresting debut that is both a page-turning thriller and a searing portrait of survival.
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Audacious and provocative, Leilani’s firecracker of a debut charts Edie’s awkward slalom through modern life, from dead-end hook ups and crushed ambitions to a romantic liaison that has disaster written all over it.

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Following two young Black women carving their careers in the unexpectedly sinister world of book publishing, Harris’s razor-edged debut is at once a gripping thriller and a shrewd piece of social commentary.

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A house unwilling to give up its secrets and a teenager with an enquiring mind; Gnuse’s acute dissection of grief, memory and unlikely friendships plays equally well as sinister thriller and poignant meditation.

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The unresolved fate of three Cornish lighthouse keepers haunts the community, and especially the trio of women who loved them, in this uniquely crafted and darkly evocative novel.

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The incisive and tantalising fiction debut by the author of The Sisterhood, Insatiable charts a vulnerable young woman’s entry into a world of power, ambition, influence and greed.
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Following the lives of two young enslaved men in the Halifax plantation, this visionary and deeply evocative debut carves a radiant love story out of the bleakest of landscapes.
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Set in contemporary India, Majumdar’s debut is a pulsating character study based in the aftermath of a terrorist attack and the complex, conflicting legacy that the atrocity unleashes on ordinary people’s lives.
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With her wonderfully executed debut that reimagines the classic tale of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur, Jennifer Saint joins the likes of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker in forging mesmerising retellings of ancient Greek myths from a female perspective.
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Following a young British-Asian lawyer who’s broken away from her family’s criminal background after her father’s murder, The Khan is a gripping and multifaceted crime thriller that explores the meaning of community and justice with breathtaking dexterity.
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Full of wit, heartbreak and humour, Last One at the Party is a staggeringly original debut about the end of the world as we never imagined it, set in an apocalyptic London.

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With her household on the edge of ruin, a woman who’s lost her zest for life suddenly propels herself into action in this smart, funny and heart-warming tale of familial love and determination from the beloved presenter.
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With breathtaking world-building and remarkably assured plotting, Thomas’s bewitching debut sees a girl burdened by her magical abilities descend into a London filled with the supernatural and enchanted.
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Crime & Thrillers

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The author of the bestselling phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with another white-knuckle thriller awash with unbearable suspense and jaw-dropping misdirection, as three women are brought into conflict through a brutal murder.
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In the aftermath of a Novichok poisoning gone wrong, Jackson Lamb’s crew navigates the corrupt web of global finance, media and populist politics in the seventh instalment of Herron’s bestselling Slough House series.

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A body found on the beach in a small coastal town triggers a chain of questions and tears open old wounds in this powerful, absorbing thriller from the author of The Dry.

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McIlvanney’s pioneering Laidlaw series of crime novels proved an immense inspiration to Ian Rankin and now the creator of Rebus completes his idol’s last, unfinished novel - and Laidlaw's origin story - in reverent yet typically compelling prose.
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Witchcraft, dastardly plots and a devotion to truth lead James Marwood and Cat Lovett to discover a secret at the very heart of the royal court in the new thrilling novel from the master of historical crime.

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A woman who loves visiting country houses faces a dreadful end in the chilling seventeenth part of Peter James’s bestselling series featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace.
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The third page-turning instalment of Jeffrey Archer’s bestselling series, Turn a Blind Eye sees Detective Inspector William Warwick tackling a dangerous corruption case at the heart of the Metropolitan Police Force.
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A house on the verge of being washed into the North Sea reveals a macabre secret in MacBride’s ingenious police thriller featuring ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson.
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The second Jack Reacher thriller co-written by Lee Child and his younger brother Andrew ups the ante on pulsating action, gripping suspense and bad guys you just love to hate.
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Set on a remote farm and filled with lingering dread, The Last Thing to Burn is a chilling depiction of an obsessively controlling relationship driven to its breaking point.
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Science Fiction & Fantasy

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In this highly anticipated fifth book of the mesmerising A Court of Thorns and Roses saga, it is the turn of Feyre’s sister to step into the limelight: now that the war has finally ended, the world seems wide open for the valiant Nesta.
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Charting the desperate last-chance mission of a lone astronaut to safeguard our planet, Project Hail Mary is a riveting interstellar adventure from the bestselling author of The Martian.

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The fourth book in Shannon’s phenomenal The Bone Season series, The Mask Falling inhabits both gloomy Parisian catacombs and the opulent hallways of Versailles in an unputdownable continuation of the saga.
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Exploring the tensions and heartbreak of three strangers thrown together at an intergalactic pit-stop, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is a stunning conclusion to Becky Chamber’s highly acclaimed Wayfarers series.

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Sinister forces are massing in the bucolic English countryside in Knox’s electrifying contemporary fantasy, which features talking ravens, giant crocodiles and the search for the all-important titular volume.
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From the author of the bestselling Nevernight series comes a gripping new saga to sink your teeth into, as a lone warrior captured by victorious vampires tells his chilling, unputdownable tale.
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