By Andrew Ramos
The following is a list of novels releasing in 2017 that I look forward to reading. My selection process may be a bit different than other “top upcoming novels” lists in that, to avoid spoilers, I have read very little about what the books themselves are about. Too often I’ve read dusk jackets that reveal major plot points or character developments that I would have preferred to uncover during the natural reading process. Just as I avoid movie trailers, I now aim to go into texts with as little information as possible. Thus, I look forward to reading the following novels not so much because of what they are about, but because previous works from the authors has left me excited about where their future writing may go.
5) Michael Helm, After James
This is a bit of a cheat selection as Helm’s After James was released in September 2016, but I missed it during the start-of-semester chaos. The prose in his previous books is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, and the opening of his novel In The Place of Last Things is among my favourites. His genre-fusing After James looks to be a can’t-miss.
4) Joyce Carol Oates, A Book of American Martyrs
Last year I read Oates’s Them and found her depiction of familial and class tensions quite moving. I am excited to read her exploration of more contemporary social concerns, such as the growing interpersonal divisiveness within the Western political environment. A Book of American Martyrs is scheduled for release on February 7.
3) Kevin Wilson, Perfect Little World
My favourite novels are those which fuse humour and heartbreak — those that make you laugh on one page and cry on the next. The domestic dysfunction in Wilson’s The Family Fang accomplishes this in spades, and I cannot wait to see how he follows it up. Perfect Little World is slated for a January 24 release.
2) Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster
Robinson’s Monkey Beach was one of the most moving texts that I read during my undergrad. In addition to its exploration of a horrific aspect in Canadian history, Monkey Beach blends its magic realism with its character development in wonderfully salient ways. Son of a Trickster will be the first of a new trilogy and is scheduled for release on February 7.
1) Heather O’Neill, The Lonely Hearts Hotel
I was floored by the poetic prose of O’Neill’s Lullabies for Little Criminals when I read it a few years ago — very understated and striking. I was lucky enough to hear O’Neill read from the forthcoming The Lonely Hearts Hotel when she closed out the 2016 fall term of the UNB Reading Series, and based on what she read, I would not be surprised to see this story of survival nominated for the 2017 Giller Prize for O’Neill’s third time in the past four years. Like two of the other texts on this list, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is scheduled for a February 7 release.
Bonus Guilty Pleasure: Jason M. Hough and K.C. Alexander, Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising.
I absolutely love the Mass Effect video game series. Its blend of exploration, character, and narrative is top notch, and the accompanying novels do an amazing job expanding on its universe’s lore. With a new Mass Effect title releasing this March, I cannot wait to read the (somewhat) accompanying novel, the first of four, to learn more about the game’s new settings. Nexus Uprising releases on March 28.
Andrew Ramos is currently a PhD candidate at UNB and a Fiddlehead editorial assistant.