Books to read in 2019

2019 seems to be the year we’ve all been waiting for. And dare I say, with its generous mix of books by emerging writers alongside established voices, might well be the golden year for fiction by Asian writers.  

We kick off the year with fiction, which seems unusual but Rajeev Balasubramanyam’s latest novel, Professor Chandra Finds his Bliss is the perfect pick-me-up to ward off the January blues. An up-lifting read that is life-affirming as it is funny. Read my full review here.

It’s wonderful to see non-fiction publishers give a platform to Muslim female voices for a change. It’s Not About the Burqa is a collection of essays written by Muslim women and edited by Mariam Khan. With Emma Watson’s book club pick of The Things I Would Tell You, there may well be a domino effect for such titles.

Better known for his crime novels, Alex Caan writing as Alex Khan’s latest crime/thriller is Bollywood Wives. It’s a scandalous, sexy novel which will delight fans of Bollywood and crime fiction alike.

As we step into spring, there’s a second novel from Mahsuda Snaith, whose first novel was published to great critical acclaim. Her latest offering, How to Find Home is a reimagining of Wizard of Oz.  

I couldn’t be more excited for HM Naqvi’s second novel, The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack especially since his DSC Prize winning debut, Homeboy was brilliant (I never use that word lightly!) Naqvi read an extract of this novel while he was at the Karachi Literature Festival in 2017 and it was pitch perfect. Well done Atlantic in picking up this phenomenal talent!

There’s genuine disappointment (yet again!) in not seeing more children’s/ YA and much of what is being published here has been imported from the US. Savita Kalhan was the single Asian female author to be published last year which seems utterly ridiculous. All’s not lost though, because in June we’re being treated to debut novel from Penguin Write Now Live mentee, Emma Smith-Barton. For those of us who heard snippets of The Million Pieces of Neena Gill at last year’s The Asian Writer Festival, I’m certain our patience will be rewarded.

For fans of Niven Govinden’s lush prose I’m certain that his fifth novel This Brutal House won’t disappoint. Govinden’s no stranger to a delicious turn of phrase, so expect a masterclass in beautiful description and voice.

From one hotly anticipated read to another. Amitav Ghosh’s ninth novel (? I admit I’ve lost count), Gun Island sounds like one you might want to take on holiday with you and is rather timely. Spanning space and time, Gun Island is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition (hello!) But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women. Uplifting!

In the autumn there’s a new novel by Kia Abdullah. Her earlier works published by small presses were filled with a raw, outspoken prose and I’m expecting Take it Back, a courtroom drama involving a teenager’s reported sexual assault to be no different. Kia’s always been at the fore of subverting expectations and is one of the most imaginative unapologetic voices of her generation so I have high expectation of this novel.

As winter sets in, there’s the fifth instalment of Abir Mukherjee’s historical crime series to look forward to. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surrender-not Banerjee!

That’s our round up for the year. I’m certain there’ll be some books published by smaller independent presses that will do brilliantly well and that we’ll all love to bits. What are you most looking forward to reading this year? And more importantly, which books did we miss?