BY SIDNEY BOKER ’21
New year, new books! This list of books to look out for in 2019 was compiled from Literary Hub’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2019,” Goodreads’ “43 Highly Anticipated Books of 2019” and Entertainment Weekly’s “50 most anticipated books of 2019.” This year’s new books span genres including YA, thriller, contemporary, fantasy and essay collections. The books spotlighted here are a few of this year’s top picks curated to meet a range of literary interests at Mount Holyoke.
THRILLER: “The Plotters” by Un-su Kim
Release date: Jan. 29, 2019
Un-su Kim’s thriller, originally published in 2010, makes its debut in America with a new English translation by Sora Kim-Russell. Kim, winner of Korea’s most prestigious literary prize, the Munhakdongne Novel Prize, takes readers on a thrilling adventure. Set in an alternate Seoul in which anonymous masterminds called “plotters” run assassination guilds, the story follows an assassin, Reseng, raised in the crime headquarters called “The Library,” who steps out of line on a carefully planned mission and uncovers a remarkable scheme led by three young women. In the face of his discovery, Reseng must choose whether to take control of his own story or continue to kill without question.
CONTEMPORARY: “Sugar Run” by Mesha Maren
Release date: Jan. 8, 2019
Mesha Maren’s debut novel, “Sugar Run,” depicts a woman’s return to life in rural West Virginia after serving nearly two decades in prison for a conviction of manslaughter. Jodi ends up at a bus stop after her release, and unable to return home right away, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a struggling young mother. The two attempt a fresh start despite the disapproval of a family and a town that refuses to forget the past. Maren’s novel provides a thoughtful representation of Southern working class women and queer relationships, along with the difficulties of starting a family.
COLLECTION: “You Know You Want This” by Kristen Roupenian
Release Date: Jan. 15, 2019
Kristen Roupenian, known for her New Yorker short story, “Cat Person,” returns with a provocative collection of short stories titled “You Know You Want This”. The stories detail a couple whose kink might unintentionally ruin their sex life, a 10-year-old’s ruined birthday party, a spellbook granting the woman who finds it her greatest desire and a woman who wants to bite people — particularly the jerk from her office. Roupenian’s stories are meant to make readers feel both understood and uncomfortable, and cover topics from the mundane to the supernatural.
YOUNG ADULT: “King of Scars” by Leigh Bardugo
Release date: Jan. 29, 2019
Leigh Bardugo returns to the Grishaverse with “King of Stars,” the first book in a duology focusing on a secondary character in her “Grisha Trilogy,” Nikolai Lantsov. With the help of a monk and a magical stranger, Nikolai must fight to protect his kingdom from the rising Grisha army and the dark magic growing within him, all while hiding his secrets and wounds from even those closest to him. Rebekah McBane ’21, a fan of Bardugo’s earlier work, is looking forward to “King of Scars.” Nikolai “is arguably the best character in the Grisha series, so it’ll be fun to get [to know] more about him and what happened to him after the events of the previous books,” McBane said. “He’s awesome: a king, also secretly a privateer on the side, and a wonderful, snarky, lovable guy.”
FANTASY: “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” by Marlon James
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2019
Award-winning author Marlon James’s new story is set in a fantastical alternate Africa and will be the first in “The Dark Star Trilogy.” The novel chronicles Tracker, a skilled hunter, and his search for a mysterious boy who went missing three years earlier. Tracker forms a team with a shapeshifter called Leopard and a ragtag band to follow the missing boy’s scent across the lush African landscape while fending off creatures set on destroying them. The creatures and Tracker’s secretive companions force him to question what he knows and the nature of truth itself. Margrit Rindlisbacher ’21 is “really excited to read ‘Black Leopard, Red Wolf’ because [she] love[s] fantasy books that are based in mythology” and is interested in seeing an “African epic fantasy.” James will visit the Odyssey Bookshop to speak about “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” on March 14.