Holiday Book Guide 2014: Fiction
From straight fiction to short stories, page turners, sci-fi, fantasy and beyond, it’s all here. Among the authors with new works: Margaret Atwood, Stephen King and Jane Smiley. See all our holiday books recommendations.
Song of the Shank
Graywolf, $18 paper
An epic novel about slavery and musical genius based on the life of a slave who was the first black musician to perform at the White House.
Hiding in Plain Sight
After a U.N. worker is killed by terrorists in Somalia, his half-sister tries to put family members’ lives back together.
Let Me Be Frank With You
In wake of Hurricane Sandy, Ford’s famous character Frank Bascombe ponders destruction, illness and the mortality of himself and his loved ones.
A Brief History of Seven Killings
An assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976 provides inspiration for this ambitious novel told by multiple narrators.
A Map of Betrayal
The American daughter of a convicted Chinese spy discovers her father’s diaries and the family he kept hidden from his wife and children in the U.S.
The Moor's Account
A Muslim slave on an ill-fated 16th century Spanish expedition to Florida narrates this lively tale that’s part coming of age and part indictment of colonialism.
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing
Coffee House, $24
In an experimental debut novel that captivated and shocked European readers, an Irish girl tries to come to terms with her brother’s illness and her own sexual abuse.
The Bone Clocks
Random House, $30
Holly Sykes is an average British teen in the 1980s when supernatural beings first intercede in her life; this forward-moving story manages to tie all of Mitchell’s novels together.
Big Little Lies
Amy Einhorn/Putnam, $26.95
Bullying, domestic violence and secrets percolate through this Australian tale centered on a death — or is it murder? — at an elementary school trivia night.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26
Returning to the setting of “Gilead,” Robinson tells the story of a drifter and her marriage to an Iowa minister.
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95
Smiley’s new trilogy opens by zooming in on one farm family struggling with everyday hardships against the backdrop of three decades of American history.
All My Puny Sorrows
In the celebrated Canadian author’s seventh book, a woman tries to help her beloved sister, a renowned pianist, deal with suicidal depression.
The darkly funny Canadian literary master behind “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns with her first short-story collection in eight years.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
Henry Holt, $27
This harsh, comic collection of contemporary short fiction from the author of “Wolf Hall” prompted some British politicians to call for her arrest.
The young author of “Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever” returns with stories about love, death and heartbreak.
The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told
Blue Rider, $25.95
In these eight stories, National Book Award finalist Thompson adapts classic fairy tales to modern, realistic settings.
Little, Brown, $26
After teenage girls in a buttoned-up New England town fall victim to a mysterious illness, paranoia spreads in this psychological thriller.
Simon & Schuster, $25.99
Suspense author Cain introduces a tough new hero: Kick Lannigan, a young woman kidnapped and rescued years ago, who now searches for abducted child.
Five Minutes Alone
In the seventh installment in the “Christchurch Noir” series, a New Zealand detective searches for a man who’s helping rape victims kill their attackers.
The Wolf in Winter
Private investigator Charlie Parker goes up against an entire Maine town intent on hiding some dark secrets.
The Secret Place
In the Irish author’s fifth thriller, two Dublin detectives investigate a popular teenage boy’s murder at a posh girls’ boarding school.
The Golem of Hollywood
Father and son authors team on this novel featuring an L.A. serial killer, a burnt-out detective and Jewish mythology.
The Good Girl
In this debut thriller narrated from multiple perspectives, a young art teacher's one-night stand turns into a failed abduction.
A young food-stand owner in Tapei investigates the murder of his high school girlfriend, whom he hadn’t seen in seven years.
After I’m Gone
William Morrow, $14.99
A retired Baltimore cop tries to solve the 10-year-old murder of a gambling boss’ mistress, in a novel inspired by a real-life Baltimore cold case.
The Skeleton Road
Atlantic Monthly Press, $25
A skeleton is found in an old Edinburgh school building, leading police to look into the case of a long-missing Croatian soldier.
Last Winter, We Parted
A formally inventive, darkly disturbing novel about the psychology of a murderer, translated from Japanese.
Set in contemporary Detroit, where a mysterious corpse — half-man, half-deer — launches a police detective into obsession in this suspenseful multivoiced narrative.
Bathing the Lion
St. Martin’s, $25.99
Five people in a small Vermont town have the same surreal dream one night, and they find they’ve been called by the cosmos to do battle with chaos.
A resourceful heroine moves between two distinct futures in this murder mystery full of surveillance, nanobots, environmental destruction, fast food and cyborgs.
In the latest from the master of horror, a minister loses his family, rejects religion and becomes obsessed with a mysterious force called “secret electricity.”
The sequel to the Hugo- and Nebula-winning “Ancillary Justice,” Leckie’s science-fiction novel follows soldier Breq as she tries to secure a space station.
The Three-Body Problem
Aliens hear signals being transmitted from Earth and decide to attack the planet in this first book of a trilogy by a popular Chinese science-fiction writer.
Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches
Lizzie Borden and her sister do battle with the evil forces that killed their parents in this opener of a planned series.
Atavist, $3.99 e-book
An insomnia plague falls and sleep becomes a black-market premium in this e-book-only novella by MacArthur “genius” fellow Karen Russell.
This near-future thriller follows two FBI agents investigating a murder in the years after a virus has killed millions and left others conscious but paralyzed.
The Southern Reach Trilogy
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35
Gathered in one volume are “Annihilation,” “Authority” and “Control”: three unsettling novels about expeditions into a wilderness area that seems beyond human control.
Shadow of a Cloud but No Cloud
University of Chicago Press, $18 paper
A haunting collection of prose poetry that evokes vivid scenes and middle life with quiet mastery.
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95
Raw, relentless, inconsolable, this book-length poem is an elegy and lament for a lost son.
Prelude to a Bruise
Coffee House Press, $16 paper
Race, sexuality and identity drive this energetic debut from a promising young poet.
An American Lyric
This vivid hybrid of verse, documentary images and narrative prose reframes the story of Trayvon Martin and issues of racial identity.
Alfred A. Knopf, $30
A half-century’s work by the recently deceased U.S. poet laureate demonstrates his dark wit and wisdom.