Now this is a post I have been most excited about! Although I was already reading 2021 releases since as early as October, I must have spent the better part of January deliberating and editing this list, because
- I wanted it to be a concise list, and
- I wanted to ensure I have covered a broad spectrum of genres and authors
Although chances are couple of these books might fly under the radar, I desperately want them all to top the bestsellers this year, as I have really (REALLY) enjoyed reading them so much and I am very much excited to see them in proper print, adorning the front shelves in bookshops.
I hope they bring you as much joy as they did to me, and if you do read any (or all) of these, I would love to hear from you 🙂
P.S. This will be an overview post, offering you a sneak peek into the book and what to expect, but closer to the actual publication date of each of these, I shall be posting a full-length review.
And finally, before getting to the list, a big thank you to Bloomsbury, Canongate, Random House UK and John Murray Press for sending these wonderful books my way.
The Paris Library – Janet Skeslien Charles
‘After the darkness of war, the light of books’
We first meet Odile in Paris, in the late 1930’s when she is preparing to interview for her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. Fast forward about four decades, and Odile now lives in Montana in USA, a solitary life as a reclusive widow, but still surrounded by her beloved books.
Inspired by a true story, what follows, in the next 300 odd pages is a narrative that alternates between Paris and Montana, filling the gaps between these forty years, giving us an insight into wartime Paris, and how a handful of extremely courageous librarians stood up to the Nazis and the dreaded Book Gestapo. This book is a true tribute to book lovers and library lovers around the world – read this to discover the enduring and life affirming strength of books.
The Paris Library releases on 9th February 2021
How Beautiful We Were – Imbolo Mbue
‘Why do Humans fight, when we all want the same things?’
In How Beautiful We Were, we visit the fictional African village of Kosawa – beautiful and pristine, whose people live as one with Nature and the Spirit.
Then an American company, Pexton, comes to drill for oil, pushing the village and its environment into rapid deterioration. Although the villagers plead with them for help, it all falls on deaf years. Until one of the villagers decides to step up.
This book is cleverly structured, told from multiple perspectives and makes the readers deliberate upon a number of crucial issues like progress at the costs of sustainability and the importance of protecting indigenous people and their cultures.
How Beautiful We Were releases on 9th March 2021
Cunning Women – Elizabeth Lee
‘There’s a turning of the air, a wickedness riding in on the breeze’
Based in England in the 1600s, in a plague Hamlet, there lives a family of cunning folk. The villagers from the nearby villages use them only when needed, otherwise shun them. And then, forbidden love starts to blossom.
Set against the backdrop of the Pendle Witch Trails in Lancashire, Cunning Women is a story of forbidden love during a tumultuous time in history. More importantly though, it compels the reader to think about the injustice of the witch trails and how and why the non-conformists had to be so violently persecuted.
Cunning Women releases on 22nd April 2021
Whereabouts – Jhumpa Lahiri
‘Nor can we escape the shadows our families cast’
Soulfully narrated in a flowing, evocative prose, Whereabouts is a collection of personal essays of a woman who lives a solitary life, alone but not lonely.
There’s always a certain kind of melancholy about Jhumpa Lahiris writing. One that fills you with longing and compels you to slow down and savour the little aspects of life; like buying stationery, or reading the newspaper.
Jhumpa Lahari is releasing a book after nearly 10 years (!) and I am truly grateful to have had the privilege to read this so many months ahead of its release date – this is a dazzling book, and a must read especially if you’ve loved her previous works.
Whereabouts releases 4th May 2021
The Other Black Girl – Zakiya Dalila Harris
“She’d made people think about race, even if they didn’t realise they were thinking about it, by simply being present at meetings, or being friendly in the kitchen”
Now this is a book, a stunning debut novel at that, that’s already being adapted into a TV series by Hulu. So it comes as no surprise why it’s featured on any and every Book List – from TIME and Goodreads to numerous book blogs.
Indeed in The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris has woven magic with her words. Call it satire, or a thriller, this book is very relevant and timely, with its subliminal commentary on race and racial injustice.
The story starts off at Wagner’s, one of the biggest publication houses in USA where Nella works as an editorial assistant, hoping someday to become an editor and have a real say in what people read. Problem is, she also happens to be the ONLY black girl in the office. The people at Wagner ‘don’t really see colour’ and the daily microaggressions and gas lighting have become a norm in Nella’s work life. And then enters Hazel, and Nella is thrilled to finally have someone on her side.
However, all is not what is seems, and slowly Nella’s carefully constructed life starts spiralling out of control.
The Other Black Girl will make you think and deliberate and then probably call up your book BFF and have a good rant.
The Other Black Girl releases 1st June 2021.