20 BOOKS FOR 2020


20 books due in 2020, both fiction and non-fiction, that I’m looking forward to. Not books that I have read, so not (yet, anyway) recommendations, but books I would like to read. There are a dozen more I might have included, and many more that I have missed, but this is a start.


William Gibson Agency

William Gibson, Agency
Viking, January

From the grand-daddy of cyberpunk, a dystopian thriller set in an alternative present where Hillary Clinton is in the White House and Brexit never happened. Be careful what you wish for seems to be the message.


Zora Neale Hurston Hitting a Straight Lick

Zora Neale Hurston,
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick
Harper Collins, January

After the publication two years ago of Zora Neale Hurston’s unpublished novel Barracoon, written nearly a century ago, eight previously unpublished short stories about the Harlem Renaissance, written during Hurston’s time as a student (and the only black student) at New York’s Barnard College.


George Corm Arab Political Thought

George Corm, Arab Political Thought
Hurst, January

Looks like an invaluable account of the richness and complexities of the intellectual currents within the Arab world over the past two centuries.


Aravind Adiga Amnesty

Aravind Adiga, Amnesty
Picador, February

From the author of White Tiger, a novel about moral dilemmas.  An undocumented Sri Lankan immigrant in Sydney must decide whether to report information about a murder, and put himself at risk of deportation, or stay silent and let the killer go free.


Column McCann Apeirogon

Colum McCann, Apeirogon
Bloomsbury, February

The tale of a friendship between an Israeli and a Palestinian, each of whom has lost a daughter, one to a sniper, one to a suicide bomber.


Cave AI Narratives

Stephen Cave, Kanta Dihal & Sarah Dillon (eds)
AI Narratives
Oxford University Press, February

A collection of essays on the history of imaginative thinking about intelligent machines.


Blake Gopnik Warhol

Blake Gopnik, Warhol
Allen Lane, February

A welcome biography of a figure whose story and influence has been defined as much  by myth as by reality.


Adam Rutherford How To Argue With A Racist

Adam Rutherford, How to Argue with a Racist
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, February

A tour through ‘history, science, race and reality’.


Hilary Mantel The Mirror and the Light

Hilary Mantel, The Mirror and the Light
4th Estate, March


The book that’s probably on every list, the conclusion of Mantel’s bewitching trilogy about Thomas Cromwell.


Thomas Piketty Capital and Ideology

Thomas Piketty, Capital and Ideology
Harvard University Press, March

Capital in the Twenty-First Century became an unexpected blockbuster. The follow-up, another 1000-page doorstopper, is likely to be the same.


Ali Araghi Immortals of Tehran

Ali Araghi, The Immortals of Tehran
Random House, April

A multi-generational epic culminating in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.


Jonathan Bate Radical Wordsworth

Jonathan Bate, Radical Wordsworth
William Collins, April

A major new biography to mark the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth.


Ramsay and Alkheder Joking About Jihad

Gilbert Ramsay & Moutaz Alkheder, Joking about Jihad
Hurst April

A study of humour in the Arab world in the face of terror.


Alan Levinovitz Natural

Alan Levinivitz, Natural
Profile, April

A history of the misplaced faith nature’s goodness, and the often terrible consequences of such faith.


Dinyar Patel Naoroji

Dinyar Patel, Naoroji
Harvard University Press, May

A welcome biography of a foundational figure in India’s modern political history, a founder of the Indian National Congress, and an MP in the Westminster parliament.


Victor Frankl Yes

Viktor Frankl, Yes to Life in Spite of Everything
Rider, May

A collection of newly-discovered work by Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, existentialist, Auschwitz survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning.


Diana Darke Stealing from the Saracens

Diana Drake, Stealing from the Saracens
Hurst, June

On the influence of Islam on European architecture.


Pankaj Mishra Bland Fanatics

Pankaj Mishra, Bland Fanatics
Verso, August

I often disagree with Mishra, but his work nevertheless demands to be read.


Ayad Akhtar Homeland Elegies

Ayad Akhtar, Homeland Elegies
Little, Brown, September

The novel about the Akhtar fractured American dream as seen by a Muslim immigrant to post-9/11 America.


John Cooper Clarke

John Cooper Clarke, I Wanna Be Yours
Picador, October

Memoirs of the punk poet turned national treasure.

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