2022 is already off to a flying start when it comes to book releases. From Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, to Rosie Andrews’ The Leviathan, 2022’s releases have so far been equal parts illuminating, daring and innovative. The year has only just begun and we have many more months of rich and engrossing book releases yet to come, but which books are already making us whet our appetite in anticipation? In this list, I count down SNWF’s top five most anticipated books of 2022 and give everyone a little taste for what’s to come in each of these dazzling releases.
5. The Pharmacist – Rachelle Atalla (12 May)
A stunning speculative fiction debut, Rachelle Atalla’s The Pharmacist takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the few remaining survivors are confined to a bunker. The story centres around Wolfe, a pharmacist who doles out medicine to those in the bunker. However, when the leader of the bunker starts to behave increasingly erratically, life in the bunker becomes a powder keg ready to explode. A literary thriller that has been described as “a compulsive, claustrophobic but wonderfully compassionate read” (Kirstin Innes), The Pharmacist promises to be an incredibly gripping and tense read!
4. Good Intentions – Kasim Ali (3 March)
Good Intentions, Kasim Ali’s debut novel explores racial prejudice and familial obligation in a “moving, modern and utterly engaging” (Rhik Samadder) way. The story revolves around couple Nur and Yasmina, who have been together for four years, but there’s just one problem: Nur’s Pakistani parents don’t know that he is dating Yasmina, a Black woman. A striking love story, which last year’s SNWF headliner Diana Evans describes as “sensitive, smooth-toned and absorbingly honest”, Ali’s novel follows Nur and Yasmina’s relationship as Nurfinally decides to tell his parents about the woman he loves. Good Intentions is out in March and we are so excited to meet Nur and Yasmina!
3. The Swimmers – Julie Otsuka (24 February)
Julie Otsuka, award-winning, best-selling author of The Buddha in the Attic and When the Emperor Was Divine, returns with her third novel. The Swimmers follows the journey of a group of recreational swimmers when they discover a crack at the bottom of their swimming pool. Described as shifting from “an almost impersonal, wide-lens view of society to an increasingly narrow focus on a specific mother-daughter relationship” (Kirkus Reviews), The Swimmers is said to be a novel with immense emotional depth and startling interiority. Otsuka’s prose is “dreamlike” (Library Journal) and “tender” (Publishers Weekly) and she uses a combination of first-person-plural and second person narration styles to achieve the desired effect. We are in the edge of our seats waiting to see how she combines these stylistic choices in this book!
2. Our Wives Under the Sea – Julia Armfield
After the success of her collection of short stories, salt slow, Julia Armfield is back with her debut novel, Our Wives Under the Sea. When Leah returns after a deep sea mission, her wife Miri is thrilled to have her back. But something’s wrong with Leah: she’s carried part of whatever they were supposed to be studying home with her. As Leah’s differences become more and more pronounced, Miri starts to consider that the life they once lived is no more. A novel that the University of Surrey’s own Distinguished Writer in Residence Neel Mukherjee claims “invites you to think again about loss, absence, and transformation,” everyone here at SNWF is on tenterhooks in anticipation for what Our Wives Under the Sea has in store!
1. Honey & Spice – Bolu Babalola (21 July)
The debut novel of Sunday Times bestselling author, Bolu Babalola is being touted as a rom-com for the ages. Honey & Spice follows Kiki, an expert in relationship-evasion, and Malakai, who Kiki dubs “The Wasteman of Whitewell” as they embark upon a fake relationship to save their futures. Will Kiki end up falling for the man she’s warned her girls about? We can’t wait to see! Candice Carty-Williams has said she’s “in love with every single word Bolu Babalola has written” and we are certain we will be too! (P.S. the signed exclusive edition includes a deleted scene!)
What do you think of our list? Which books are you most excited to read in 2022 and have we missed your most anticipated book? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Beth (she/her) and I am a PhD student at the University of Surrey and your co-Assistant Festival Director for SNWF 2022! I research and write historical/ historiographic fiction and I am particularly interested in intersectional feminist narratives. My favourite book is Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and my favourite play is The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson. I also love a creepy horror tale or two and particularly enjoy Julia Armfield’s short stories in this genre! My favourite book of 2021 is The Fortune Men by NadifaMohamed.