The best fiction books to read in 2023 – Harper’s BAZAAR

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best fiction books 2023

A new year means a fresh list of exciting new fiction releases, and 2023 is determined not to disappoint. There are major literary moments, from titans of letters – like Bret Easton Ellis’ first novel in 13 years – long-awaited releases from beloved writers back on form, like Diana Evans (following her cult last novel, Ordinary People ), with a heart-breaking post-Grenfell narrative; the second novel of Emma Cline , who stunned the world with her 2016 debut, The Girls ; and the latest release from one of America’s most exhilarating talents, Brandon Taylor .

There is also a dazzling list of debut authors to discover, including Jessica George’s beautiful Maame , Nicole Flattery’s astonishing Nothing Special and Wiz Wharton’s extraordinary family saga, Ghost, Girl, Banana .

Here. we chart 10 novels to get excited about within 2023…

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1 The Shards, Bret Easton Ellis

One of the biggest literary events of 2023, The Shards is Bret Easton Ellis’s first new novel in 13 years. The author associated with American Psycho returns inside characteristic, high-octane, disturbing style, weaving a heavily fictionalised retelling if his own days at prep school in 1981. Character driven, yet typical of the cult writer’s twisted imagination, the novel focuses on a hero who must navigate his own desires and paranoias as a serial killer lingers around campus. Welcome back, Mr Easton Ellis.

The Shards (Swift, £25. 00) is published 17 January


2 Maame, Jessica George

Maame tells the story of Maddie, a young Black British woman eager to carve out her own sense of self, away from the pressures of home and the expectations or micro-aggressions of others. A bold and brilliant debut, tackling grief, race, family and identity, George’s novel is a deeply moving one, packed with heart and sparkling prose.

Maame (Hodder & Stoughton, £14. 99) is published 14 February.


3 Lady MacBethad, Isabelle Schuler

Missing House of the Dragon levels of court intrigue and scheming queens? Enter Isabelle Schuler’s astonishingly entertaining debut; a shrewdly crafted retelling of the story of Grouch, the historical Scottish Queen who inspired Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. It has everything you need from an immersive, captivating epic, packed with brilliant writing and a suspense-laden plot. There will certainly be a lot more to come from Schuler.

Lady MacBethad (Bloomsbury, £14. 99) is published 2 March


4 Nothing Special, Nicole Flattery

It’s not every writer that could command an endorsement from Sally Rooney herself, but Dublin-based Flattery, author of the arresting short story collection, Show Them A Good Time , has done just that. Her first novel, Nothing Special , is deservedly one of the most exciting releases of 2023. Set around Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory in 1960s New York, it is a dizzying exploration of sex, freedom, art and voyeurism, seen through the coming-of-age associated with 17-year-old Mae. Deftly woven and captivating, it signals the arrival of a new literary talent.

Nothing Special (Bloomsbury, £16. 99) is published 2 March.


5 Rootless, Krystle Zara Appiah

A gorgeous romantic saga which delves into the pains and joys of young love and the complexities of a marriage in crisis, Appiah has created an unique and compelling novel to beat Normal People at its own game. Weaving in a rich sense of place and a touching exploration of culture, Appiah’s debut novel is a poignant tale which marks her out as one of Britain’s best new young writers.

Rootless (Harper Collins, £14. 99) will be published 16 March


6 A House for Alice, Diana Evans

The mind behind the brilliant Ordinary People , author and journalist Diana Evans has a knack for creating rich, deeply realised worlds. It is little wonder her first novel, 26a , won the Betty Trask Award, nor that Ordinary People was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her latest, A House for Alice , is the girl first novel since 2018 and is well worth the wait. A warm but devastating story, dealing with the fallout of the Grenfell tragedy, it features interlocking lives and explores the true meaning of home in a brutal world. Like any Evans novel, it is unputdownable.

A home for Alice (Vintage, £18. 99) is published 6 April


7 The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa, Stephen Buoro

A barnstorming, heartbreaking debut, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa is a coming-of-age narrative, set amidst communal violence in North Western Nigeria. Tackling the particular perils of carving out an unique identity in a world associated with carnage and confusion, in the shadow of colonialism, this assured, engaging book, will make you fall in love with teenager Andy Aziza, and will undoubtedly make a star of Stephen Buoro.

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa (Bloomsbury, £16. 99) is released 13 April.


8 Ghost, Girl, Banana, Wiz Wharton

Possibly one of the most curiously titled novels of the year, with one of the most unique and enthralling narratives. Ghost, Girl, Banana takes place across 1960s England plus 1990s Hong Kong and is a sprawling family saga asking lingering questions about belonging, race and betrayal. Centring a mother daughter relationship – across decades and continents – it unpicks a painful secret, in a high and rewarding debut book from new talent-to-watch Wharton.

Cat, Girl, Banana (Hodder & Stoughton, £14. 99) is published 18 May


9 The Guest, Emma Cline

Cline’s 2016 debut, The Girls , telling the story of one lonely girl in the heady, dying days of the hippie movement in California, was nothing short of a sensation. She followed her success along with tight, unusual short stories, many of which were published in her 2020 collection Daddy . This year’s The Guest , marks the long-awaited arrival of her second novel, a dizzying journey through the dark recesses of the rich in Long Island, told from the perspective of one increasingly desperate, isolated lady. It is Cline on sterling form; eerie and masterful. The Guest is destined to be the status read of 2023.

The Guest (Vintage, £18. 99) is published 18 May.


10 The Late Americans, Brandon Taylor

So breathlessly awaited is Brandon Taylor’s new novel, that it doesn’t even have a cover yet. Taylor’s last novel, Real Life , was Booker Reward shortlisted, but the American writer has been hot property since his bestseller Filthy Animals . A beautiful, detailed writer, Taylor excels at penning his own expansive, contemporary versions of Victorian novels; exploring character plus state-of-the-nation questions with impressive prose. The particular Late Americans is one of his most exciting creations yet, the saga starring a circle of friends and lovers whose lives are reaching a dangerous reckoning.

The Late Americans (Vintage, £18. 99) is published 22 June


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