The best fiction books to read in 2024, from David Nicholls to Kiley Reid

The secret to a happy life? Read a very good novel at the end of every day. Thank goodness, then, that the coming year is full of gems, from thrilling debuts to the return of big-name authors. Here’s our guide to the best fiction to read in 2024.

Michael Cunningham’s novel ‘Day’ is about the battle to remain sane in a world gone mad

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Day by Michael Cunningham

It’s been almost a decade since The Hours author Michael Cunningham published a novel, and according to him, the helter-skelter world events during that period have hardly been a boon for writerly productivity. At least it’s infomed Day, his latest, which is set on the same day over a three-year period from 2019 to 2021. He says it’s “about the battle to remain sane in a world gone mad”. 18 Jan, Fourth Estate

The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez

Here’s the chic new hardback to have on your New Year reading pile. The American author Sigrid Nunez had already published several novels when The Friend, about a writer who inherits a friend’s dog after he takes his own life, made her a literary star in 2018. Now she counts Laura Marling and Natalie Portman as fans, meaning we can overlook the fact that The Vulnerables is a pandemic novel (make them stop!), in which a writer befriends strangers in her apartment block during lockdown. 25 Jan, Virago

Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid made the Booker longlist in 2020 with her debut, Such a Fun Age, an incisive page-turner about class, race and status in which a Black woman is accused of kidnapping the white child she is babysitting. Her second novel follows a similar theme, namely: “what on earth are millennials supposed to do with their lives in this economy?” Set on a university campus, it follows a research assistant looking for stability, who is offered what looks like an easy opportunity by a visiting professor. 30 Jan, Bloomsbury

The French literary star Edouard Louis’s new book ‘Change’ looks at his attempts to transcend his past via education

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Change by Edouard Louis

At just 31, Edouard Louis’s shocking brand of autofiction has made him one of the biggest literary stars in his native France. The End of Eddy, his debut, was his account of enduring poverty and homophobia in rural France; The History of Violence describes his alleged rape. Change looks at his attempts to transcend his past via education. 8 Feb, Vintage

Pity by Andrew McMillan

Few poets in the last 10 years have made as much of an impact with their first collection as Andrew McMillan did with Physical. Spare in language and dazzlingly intimate, it won him a Somerset Maugham Award and has meant his debut novel, set over three generations of one South Yorkshire mining family, is one of the year’s most anticipated new books. 8 Feb, Canongate

Mona of the Manor by Armistead Maupin

There are shades of Nancy Mitford to Armistead Maupin’s tenth instalment of Tales of the City, which leaves San Francisco behind for the Cotswolds. Readers will get to find out what happened when Mona Ramsey moved to post-Thatcher Britain in the 1990s, marrying Lord Teddy Roughton in order to secure his visa, and inheriting a manor house in the process. 7 March, Doubleday

This debut novel from Anoushka Warden charts one woman’s quest to fulfil her sexual appetites

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I’m F*cking Amazing by Anouskha Warden

Funny, feminist and radically frank, this debut novel from Anoushka Warden charts one woman’s quest to fulfil her sexual appetites in a world that doesn’t seem to accommodate or understand them. And if you think the title is good, you’ve not seen her plays: My Mum’s a Twat and My Dad’s a C***. 21 MarchTrapeze

Until August by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Undoubtedly one of the literary events of the year: a final, “lost” novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be released a decade after his death. The author of Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude was suffering from dementia as he put the final touches to this story about a woman visiting a different island every year on the anniversary of her mother’s death; he ultimately decided it should not be published and it was locked away in an archive. Now, his sons have reconsidered, and Marquez’s last work will be shared with the world. 12 March, Viking

Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel

The publishing arm of sophisticated bookshop Daunt Books has done a stellar job republishing some lost gems, from two early novels of Barbara Comyns to Phyllis Rose’s addictive study of Victorian marriage, Parallel Lives. But their championing of new voices is also very impressive. Look out for this debut novel, recommended by Lorrie Moore, about best teenage girl boxers in the United States. 28 March, Daunt Books Originals

Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘Caledonian Road’ is a state-of-the-nation doorstopper

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Caledonian Road by Andrew O’Hagan

Every year, someone must step up and write a state-of-the-nation doorstopper, and this year, the duty falls to Mayflies author Andrew O’Hagan. Will it be an unputdownable read, or will it just be a posh soap opera where people talk about Brexit and cancel culture? We’re yet to find out, but the premise is certainly fun – among its hefty cast of characters, a celebrity intellectual crosses paths with a provocative student. 4 April, Faber

As Young as This by Roxy Dunn

Early word says that this debut novel about womanhood and expectations will be one of the most exciting of the year. Told in the second person, it charts Margot’s quest to work out what to do when she finds that, at 34, things haven’t gone how she planned. It’s the latest accomplishment author Roxy Dunn is adding to her list: she’s also had sellout shows at the Soho Theatre, written poems and acted in sitcoms.

You are Here by David Nicholls

Think doing your Duke of Edinburgh Award, with all the teenage flirting and uncomfortable footwear, but with 25 years of life’s disappointments heaped on top. This, basically, is the premise for David Nicholls’ new novel, in which the friends of thirtysomething divorcees Michael and Marnie are very worried about them, and therefore organise a big walk around the Lake District in very rainy weather. It’s Nicholls’ best since the Booker-longlisted Us, and I’m already dream-casting the BBC adaptation. 23 April, Hodder

Emily Henry’s new book ‘Funny Story’ is about an ex who moves in with her ex’s ex

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Funny Story by Emily Henry

Emily Henry is a sheer publishing phenomenon, selling millions of copies for her inhalable romcoms that smartly play with tropes of the genre. A sign of her growing popularity is that 2023 saw the first of her books – Happy Place – to be published in hardback in the UK. Hot on its heels comes Funny Story, about an ex who moves in with her ex’s ex. 25 April, Viking

The Hypocrite by Jo Hamya

Jo Hamya’s Three Rooms was one of the most underrated debuts of recent years, telling the story of a woman living in London in precarious employment and housing, as she tried to find her footing in the world. Her second sounds even more enticing: it tells the story of a father and daughter on holiday, where she types up his latest novel. Ten years later, he watches her first play, set during that week, and laying bare all the things he did wrong. 25 April, W&N

Shy Creatures by Clare Chambers

After many years of quietly publishing well-received but not-so-well-read novels, Clare Chambers became a publishing sensation with Small Pleasures, a word-of-mouth lockdown hit about suppressed desires in suburbia. Expect a similar mood in Shy Creatures, set in 1960s Croydon, in which an art therapist has an affair with a married doctor – until they discover a troubled man living in a derelict house down the road. 29 Aug, W&N

The king of horror publishes his latest collection of short stories

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You Like it Darker by Stephen King

2024 marks 50 years since the publication of Carrie, the book that Stephen King’s wife retrieved from a bin, thus beginning one of the most enviable careers in modern publishing. Now, 400 million copies sold later, the king of horror publishes his latest collection of short stories. 21 May, Hodder

Blue Sisters by Coco Mellors

After Cleopatra and Frankenstein, her archly cool age-gap romance set in the lofts of Brooklyn, comes Coco Mellors’ second novel, Blue Sisters. The sisters are blue because a) that is their surname and also b) they are sad. Set in London, Paris, LA and New York, it follows the three Blue sisters as they grieve the unexpected death of Nicky, their fourth. Expect enviable interiors and big emotions. 23 May, Fourth Estate

The Safekeep by Yael van der Wouden

Acquired in a nine-way auction, Dutch author Yael van der Wouden’s debut novel has been compared to Ian McEwan’s Atonement and the novels of Sarah Waters and Patricia Highsmith. Set in a rural Dutch province in 1961, as the aftershocks of the war are beginning to quiet, it sees life disrupted when a woman has her brother and graceless girlfriend come to stay in her house. 30 May, Viking

Claire Lombardo’s second book is a family saga about a teenage daughter about to set off for college

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Same As It Ever Was by Claire Lombardo

So accomplished was Claire Lombardo’s 2019 novel The Most Fun We Ever Had that it was hard to believe it was her first; the Guardian described her as the “literary lovechild of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler”. Now comes her second book, another family saga to save as a treat and devour when you should be doing something else, in which events past and present upset a long marriage.

Parade by Rachel Cusk

Rachel Cusk’s triumphant Outline trilogy saw her move from derided author of motherhood memoir A Life’s Work to celebrated literary trailblazer. Now comes Parade, described as a novel about art, womanhood and violence, its pages filled with “a loose carousel of lives”. 6 June, Faber

Gliff by Ali Smith

Ali Smith, concept queen. After her seasonal quartet of novels, which captured events as they unfolded and tracked autumn, winter, spring and summer, comes a two-book project. Gliff – the Scottish word for “shock” – will be followed in 2025 by Glyph, which will contain a story that’s hidden within the first. 4 July, Hamish Hamilton

More red hot Westminster scandal from the former advisor to Boris Johnson, whose debut, ‘Whips’, set pulses racing

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Cleavage by Cleo Watson

More red hot Westminster scandal from the former advisor to Boris Johnson, whose debut, Whips, set pulses racing. This one might get them going again in government, but for quite different reasons: it’s about a general election that the Tories are predicted to lose catastrophically (ring any bells?), leaving them no choice but to desperately call in a maverick advisor to try and change their fortunes. By May, fact may mirror fiction if Rishi Sunak sends the public to the polls – we’ll have to wait and see how closely… 2 May, Corsair

Munichs by David Peace

From the author of The Damned United comes a new novel charting one of the most tragic incidents in football history: the 1958 Munich air disaster that resulted in the deaths of 23 people, including eight of Manchester United’s “Busby Babes”. Peace will explore the lasting impact it had on football and Britain itself. 29 Aug, Faber

A new George Smiley novel

Three years after the death of John le Carre, aka David Cornwell, the spy novelist’s most famous character is returning. Nick Harkaway, Cornwell’s son, will write a new George Smiley novel – filling in the gap between The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyAutumn, Viking