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20 new books to be excited about this year

Actress Cicely Tyson tells her story in the

Actress Cicely Tyson tells her story in the memoir "Just As I Am," which comes out Jan. 26. Credit: Harpo Inc.

Whatever 2021 may bring, it will definitely be filled with new books. Here's a roundup of 20 of the year's most eagerly awaited new titles, ranging to those from famous names to prestige-award winners to highly anticipated first-timers. There's surely something here for everyone. May it be a year of happy reading for us all.

A SWIM IN THE POND IN THE RAIN

The seven essays in George Saunders’ book are derived from the Russian literature class he has taught for decades at Syracuse University, examining how fiction works and why it matters.

(Penguin Random House, available now)

CONCRETE ROSE

In this prequel to her mega-bestselling YA novel "The Hate U Give," Angie Thomas book revisits Garden Heights 17 years before the events of the first book, focusing on the life of teenage Maverick Carter.

(Balzer + Bray, available now)

JUST AS I AM

Now 96, with a remarkable stage and screen career dating back to the 1950s (following success as a model), actress Cicely Tyson is telling her life story, describing the book as "my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside."

(HarperCollins, Jan. 26)

LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I MEAN

This essay collection unites 12 Joan Didion pieces, published from 1968 to 2000, on a variety of topics: journalism, California robber barons, not getting into Stanford, Martha Stewart and much more.

(Knopf, Jan. 26)

FOUR HUNDRED SOULS

Ninety different writers each take on a five-year period of Black history in this unique volume subtitled"A Community History of African America 1619-2019." It’s edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of "How to Be an Antiracist," and Keisha N. Blain, who penned "Set the World on Fire."

(One World, Feb. 2)

THE SURVIVORS

If you’re hooked on Jane Harper's tense, moody mysteries set in remote Australian locations ("The Dry," "Force of Nature"), this one promises not to disappoint. It takes place in a small coastal town where a body washes up on the beach.

(Flatiron Books, Feb. 2)

FORGONE

Russell Banks, bestselling author of "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Affliction" (both of which were made into movies), returns with his first novel in 10 years. It's the story of a dying documentary filmmaker and draft evader who agrees to one final interview.

(Ecco, March 2)

KLARA AND THE SUN

This one's been eagerly awaited: It's Kazuo Ishiguro's first book since being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. The author of "The Remains of the Day" and "Never Let Me Go" dips into science fiction here, with his main character being an Artificial Friend in a futuristic shop window.

(Knopf, March 2)

LATER

Stephen King's latest sure-to-be-a-bestseller thriller has at its center a young boy with unnatural abilities who becomes involved in a police search for a killer.

(Hard Case Crime, March 2)

THE COMMITTED

This sequel to Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Sympathizer" follows the main character — an unnamed, conflicted spy — as he arrives in 1980s Paris with his brother.

(Grove, March 2)

MY BROKEN LANGUAGE

This memoir is by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of "Water by the Spoonful" who also collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda for "In the Heights." Here she tells her own coming-of-age tale about growing up in a West Philadelphia barrio.

(One World, April 6)

THE SOUVENIR MUSEUM

Elizabeth McCracken, author of the enchantingly witty novel "Bowlaway," here presents her latest collection of short stories, with settings ranging from a Scottish island to a Texas water park.

(Ecco, April 13)

WHEREABOUTS

Lahiri's first novel in nearly a decade is also her first written in Italian (the language in which she now exclusively writes) and translated into English. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Interpreter of Maladies" and "The Namesake," among other works.

(Knopf, April 27)

SECOND PLACE

Rachel Cusk, the acclaimed British author of the "Outline" trilogy, sets her latest novel in a remote coastal region, where a woman has invited a famed artist to visit her.

(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, May 4)

PROJECT HAIL MARY Former software engineer Andy Weir hit the bestseller jackpot with "The Martian." His new novel is another interstellar adventure, with an astronaut who's the sole survivor of a last-chance mission.

(Ballantine Books, May 4)

WHITE JUSTICE SLEEPS

Georgia politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is also the bestselling author of two nonfiction books and romance written under the name Selena Montgomery. Now she makes her debut as a writer of political thrillers with this one that takes place within the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Doubleday, May 11)

SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER: A MEMOIR Ashley C. Ford, a journalist and host of the "Chronicles of Now" podcast, makes her much-buzzed book debut with an intensely personal story of her relationship with her incarcerated father.

(Flatiron Books, June 1)

THE NATURE OF MIDDLE-EARTH Between the publication of "The Lord of the Rings" in 1954-55 and the author's death in 1973, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote extensively about his imaginary land of Middle-earth. Many of those essays are published here for the first time.

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 24)

THE TURNOUT

A psychological thriller set at a ballet school? Sounds perfect, especially if it’s by Megan Abbott, author of numerous masterfully tense novels ("Dare Me," "The Fever"). Abbott often sets her books within intense circles of women, each looking over her shoulder.

(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, July 6)

HARLEM SHUFFLE The latest offering from Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, author of "The Underground Railroad," is the playful tale of a heist, set at a Harlem hotel in the early 1960s.

(Doubleday, Sept. 14)

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