The Most Anticipated Books of the Rest of 2008

June 30, 2008 | 15 books mentioned 16 4 min read

As we reach the year’s midpoint, it’s time to look at some of the books we are most looking forward to for the second half. There are many, many intriguing books on the docket for the next six months, but these are some of the most notable. Please share your most anticipated books in the comments.

coverAugust: Chris Adrian wowed readers in 2006 with his post-apocalyptic novel The Children’s Hospital. That novel’s ardent fans will be pleased to get their hands on a new collection of stories called A Better Angel. The collection’s title story appeared in the New Yorker in 2006. More recently, Adrian offered up a personal essay in the New York Times Magazine about getting a tattoo.

coverSeptember: Philip Roth remains tireless, and his latest effort arrives in September, less than year after Exit Ghost garnered seemingly wall-to-wall coverage. With Indignation, Roth takes readers to 1951 America and introduces a young man, a son of a New Jersey butcher, trying to avoid the draft and the Korean War. An early review (with spoilers) offers, “Indignation is a sad and bloody book, and even if it delivers nothing particularly new – indeed, most of Roth’s books could be retitled Indignation – it is a fine supplement to Roth’s late achievements. And we learn a lot about kosher butchery.”

coverNorwegian author Per Petterson collected a number of international prizes and upped his name recognition with Out Stealing Horses, which appeared to much acclaim in English in 2005 and won the IMPAC two years later. I read and enjoyed his In the Wake, which was written before Horses but appeared afterward in translation. Of that book, I wrote, the “boundary between madness and loneliness is plumbed to great effect.” Petterson’s latest to be translated for American audiences, To Siberia, is his second novel. Like Petterson’s other novels, To Siberia is inspired by his parents, who died in a ferry accident along with two of his brothers in 1990. A snippet of an excerpt is available at the NYRB (and more if you are a subscriber).

coverAccording to our Prizewinners post, Marilynne Robinson’s 2004 book Gilead was one of the most celebrated novels of the last thirteen years. Gilead arrived 24 years after Robinson’s debut, Housekeeping, but Robinson’s latest, Home, comes after only a four-year hiatus. As Publishers Weekly first reported, “Home shares its setting with Gilead, and its action is concurrent with that novel’s. Characters from Gilead will also appear in Home.”

Kate Atkinson is bringing back her reluctant detective Jackson Brodie for a third book, When Will There Be Good News?. An early review on a blog is mixed, and apparently he has a wife in this one. (Not sure how all the Brodie fans will take that!)

Garth writes: “David Heatley’s My Brain is Hanging Upside Down is a graphic novel that takes readers deep into the uncomfortable psychological undercurrents of everyday American life. Like Chris Ware, who gave him a prominent blurb, David Heatley is a double threat with a pen: both words and drawings are adventures in style.”

Garth writes: “Indie stalwart Joe Meno delivers Demons in the Spring, a new collection of 20 stories, each of them illustrated by a leading graphic artist.”

coverOctober: John Barth, one of the leading lights of American fiction, has a new book on the way. The Development is, according to the publisher promo copy, “a touching, comic, deeply humane collection of linked stories about surprising developments in a gated community.” A story from the book “Toga Party,” appeared in Fiction magazine and in the Best American Short Stories 2007. There’s not much on the book just yet, but “Toga Party” won some praise from readers.

Also making October an impressive month for new books will be Death with Interruptions by Nobel laureate Jose Saramago. Though the book will no doubt be allegorical like many of Saramago’s works, the title is apparently meant somewhat literally as the story involves eternal life.

Garth writes: “Ingo Schulze’s 2005 tome, New Lives, finally reaches American shores, in a translation by the magnificent John E. Woods. According to Schulze, it concerns an aesthete who finds himself plunged into the sturm and drang of capitalist life. Die Zeit called it ‘the best novel about German reunification.’ Period.”

John Updike will follow up one of his best known novels, 1984’s The Witches of Eastwick, with a sequel, The Widows of Eastwick.

Sara Gruen of Water for Elephants fame will return with Ape House. It “features the amazing bonobo ape.”

November: Garth writes: “Characteristically, Roberto Bolaño throws a curveball, delivering 2666 a massive final novel that both does and doesn’t match the hype surrounding it. I haven’t decided whether or not it’s a good book, but it is, indisputably, a great one. I devoured it in a week and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.”

coverIt’s not every year that we get a new book from an American Nobel laureate, but this year we will get A Mercy from Toni Morrison. The promo description on Amazon is downright mysterious, offering this brief blurb: “A new novel, set, like Beloved, in the American past.” But she has been reading from the book at various events and Wikipedia already has some details, though these appear to be pulled from promotional material as well. We can glean that the novel will take place in the 17th century, the early days of slavery in the Americas.

Please let us know what books you are most looking forward to for the second half of 2008 in the comments.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. I must admit that I am really looking forward to The Widows of Eastwick. I suspect this is a personal failing.

    On my list for August: David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife, about Brigham Young's 19th wife, and Irina Reyn's What Happened to Anna K., which appears to be a modern retelling of Anna Karenina. I thought Ebershoff's The Danish Girl was brilliant.

  2. I am (newly) excited about Death with Interruptions, which I did not know about til just now. I am excited about Pamuk's forthcoming Museum of Innocence, though it is looking like that might be a 2009 book.

  3. I'll put a big ol' asterisk in front of those where I'm being self-serving as hell by suggesting a Dzanc/OV Books/Black Lawrence Press title:


    (*) Louella Bryant – While in Darkness There is Light

    Non-fiction book about a group of young men who begin an agricultural communal farm in the coastal region of Australia during the Viet Nam war era. It's a pretty riveting read.

    (*) Hesh Kestin – Based on a True Story

    A trio of novellas set in post WWII. Sort of a throwback to the writing style of Roth or Stern.


    Ron Rash – Serena (Ecco). His fourth novel and ninth book overall. Just a great writer continuing to get better, writing of the Appalachian region and doing it as well as anybody.

    Keith Lee Morris – The Dart League King (Tin House)

    Novel set in Idaho – this is his third novel. From the back flap – "Russell Harmon is the self-proclaimed king of his small-town Idaho dart league, but all is not well in his kingdom."

    Peter Selgin – Drowning Lessons (University of Georgia)

    One of this year's Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award winners. I love this series, and Peter's writing in general – therefore, a great combination.

    (*) Allison Amend – Things That Pass for Love

    A short story collection from an author I've wondered about for years – as in when would she see a collection published?


    (*) Kyle Minor – In the Devil's Territory

    Another collection from an author I've enjoyed work from for a few years now – just glad to be a part of it.

    I'm also pretty sure MacAdam/Cage has William Gay's new title hitting stores in the fall as well!

  4. Downtown Owl, Chuck Klosterman's novel, should be some fun. I saw an ARC of it, but it slipped through my fingers, like so much pop-culture referencing sand…

  5. The third part of Javier Marias's Your Face Tomorrow must be translated by now and out this year, right?


  6. PW gave Marilynne Robinson's Home a starred review in the 6/30/2008 issue:

    "Robinson's beautiful new novel, a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, is an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son's return."

  7. I'm looking forward to Black Widow Press's new edition of Mark Polizzotti's Andre Breton bio Revolution of the Mind. Also, Bolano's Los perros romanticos from New Directions.

  8. I look forward to the new Roth, Paul Yoon's story collection, the new William Gay, and the story collection from Kyle Minor.

    – tom yee

  9. I can't believe how prolific Roth has been. How many more books are teeming in his head just waiting for a chance to get out? And they're not formulaic – he's still got the humor and the depth! Excellent news that he'll please us again this fall! Thanks for the post!

  10. Important for me to know Roth's new book is about animal butchery. Of course it will be very sad. Roth is in my pantheon and I've read them all at least twice but I will skip this. The older I get, the less cruelty and images of cruelty can I bear.

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