2021 is coming into the final stretch, the final quarter, and with that comes more books – all vying for the Christmas market. It’s 81days to go, if you were curious.
So we’re back for our final instalment of our AU’s Most Anticipated Reads feature for this year. Though we’ll be back just before Christmas to bring you a round up of our favourite books for 2021.
There are so many books published each week and month, it can be pretty hard to choose what to read next. This is a very small snapshot of the literary highlights coming up in the next few months. They’re the books we’re most excited for, the ones we think that are worth your attention.
From Norwegian mountaintops to the Underworld of Greek Myth, from popular music history to graphic novels, there’s plenty to be excited about. Here are some of our most anticipated books of 2021 – Happy Reading!:
Because Venus Crossed An Alpine Violet On The Day That I Was Born – Mona Høvring
BookHug Press | Pub Date: 5th October | Pre-Order HERE
Simon: I have been counting down to this release day for a little while now. Full disclosure, I had the pleasure of working with the author – the wonderful Mona Høvring – and the book’s two translators Kari Dickson and Rachel Rankin at a literary translation summer school last year. After hearing whispers of this project then I’ve been keeping my eyes on the listings ever since.
Winner of the Norwegian Critics’ Prize for Literature, and shortlisted for the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, Because Venus Crossed an Alpine Violet on the Day that I Was Born tells the story of two sisters, once close but now estranged, as they attempt to reconnect. Høvring is as much a poet as a fiction writer, with six poetry collections to her name, and in my experience that poetic style filters through to her fiction beautifully. Expect prose that is thoughtful, vibrant and evocative. As fans of all three women involved, I can’t wait for my copy to arrive and to immerse myself once again in Høvring’s writing.
Stars In Their Eyes – Jessica Walton & Aśka
Fremantle Press | Pub Date: 6th October | Pre-Order HERE
Jess: Let’s face it, you can’t see the names Jessica Walton and Aśka and not be excited. Both have an energy that always transforms on the page and they’re just so damn cool! So of course as soon as I heard about Stars In Their Eyes I was immediately hooked. It’s a YA graphic novel about a queer, disabled teenager with chronic pain and anxiety on a day out at Fancon.
Maisie goes to Fancon to meet her hero, Kara Bufano, an amputee actor who plays a kick-arse amputee character in her favourite show. There she meets volunteer Ollie whom it turns out she has a lot in common with. But it’s not a teenage story if there isn’t an embarrassing mum lurking around the corner just waiting for the chance to inadvertently ruin it all!
Give me all the nerdiness, all the love, and all the cracking visuals.
The Hush – Sara Foster
HarperCollins | Pub Date: 27th October | Pre-Order HERE
Emily: Sara Foster’s newest novel is already causing a bit of a buzz with its Handmaid’s Tale-esque premise. While Foster is known for smart domestic thrillers and clever mysteries, this latest novel has more of a dystopian premise, centring around a pandemic affecting fertility and birth.
Novels which combine the politicisation of women’s bodies with action packed futuristic settings have been having something of a renaissance in recent years, and rather than becoming a tired concept, the genre is just getting more and more exciting as writers delve deeper into the complex philosophy underpinning the issues represented.
I for one, am here for it, and can’t wait to get my hands on The Hush.
How Decent Folk Behave – Maxine Beneba Clarke
Hachette Australia | Pub Date: 27th October | Pre-Order HERE
Simon: After a foray into the world of children’s books Maxine Beneba Clarke is back with a new poetry collection, How Decent Folk Behave. Unsurprisingly, the collection is inspired by the recent past, frankly how could it not be. The book’s blurb alludes to events abroad and at home in Australia, and emphasises the interconnectedness of it all, from Black Lives Matter to Bushfires and Climate Change. A certain virus might even make an appearance.
But, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a doom and gloom collection, but rather a reflective one, with Maxine Beneba Clarke describing poetry as “a hopeful, joyful space” and a “quiet contemplative space for people to reflect on the world that is, and the world they hope to see exist”. Simply, I see a new Maxine Beneba Clarke book, I buy it. And any new book is a good excuse to remind you all that Maxine Beneba Clarke is one of the best accounts to follow on Twitter (and a godsend for parents with school age children).
Aurora’s End – Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
Allen & Unwin | Pub Date: 2nd November | Pre-Order HERE
Jess: I’ve had this book on pre-order since the announcement back in March. Featuring everyone’s favourite smartass techie on the cover (we love you Fin!), this is the third and final book in the Aurora Cycle trilogy, Aurora’s End.
Picking up after the killer cliffhanger that was the end of Book Two, the final instalment seems set to give our heroes one last chance to save the day. How will this bunch of losers, discipline cases and misfits overcome their issues with each other, unite with their enemies, and save the galaxy from an ancient evil?
I have cleared my calendar the day of release and will be lining up at the bookstore for opening that morning to find out!
Lore Olympus: Volume 1 – Rachel Smythe
Delray / Random House | Pub Date: 2nd November | Pre-Order HERE
Jess: I’ve been reading this tale as a comic on WebToons for nearly two years and I am absolutely enthralled. The artwork is gorgeous and the author has done an awesome job using the classic tales of the Greek gods, in particular the tale of Persephone and Hades, to examine modern themes of coming of age, sexual assault, mental abuse, and politics.
Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, has finally convinced her mother Demeter to let her leave home in the mortal realm and move to Olympus to study. The catch? She must join the Goddesses of Eternal Maidenhood and remain virgin for the rest of her life. But, when her housemate and fellow eternal maiden Artemis – desperate to help Persephone gain some independence, takes her to a party, she meets the misunderstood god of the Underworld, Hades, and her entire life changes. But Olympus is a hive of scandal, politics and power plays and Persephone is about to be thrown into the centre of it all.
I’m so excited to get my hands on a hard copy. Come for the beautiful artwork and charming love story, stay for the clever Easter Eggs, solid characters and insightful handling of modern issues.
Killernova – Omar Musa
Penguin | Pub Date: 30th November | Pre-Order HERE
Simon: Not content with being an acclaimed author, poet, hip hop artist and playwright, Omar Musa has now added artist to his CV. And, as it turns out, he’s pretty great at that too. Over the last couple of years, whilst Musa has been ‘grappling’ with his heritage, he’s also been grappling with the ancient art form of the wood cut.
His forthcoming book, Killernova, sees him interspersing his art with his trademark swaggering and fiery poetry. Exploring themes of colonialism, environmental devastation, family, isolation and more, the collection promises to be a striking blend of words and art. New Omar Musa is always a reason to be excited, and just in time for Christmas. Perfect!
The Monk Prince – Golda Mowe
Penguin | Pub Date: 30th November | Pre-Order HERE
Jess: I’ve recently been trying to read more fantasy and sci-fi from non-European centric perspectives and this new release from Golda Mowe sounds right up my alley.
King Waluyo discovers that his crown prince is not his biological son and suspects the boy’s mother may have poisoned his other children. Twenty years after one of his sons has disappeared, he finally finds Parantapa and now he must protect his only living child and his people by teaching his son how to be a king. But Parantapa has been brought up as a monk with non-violent beliefs at odds with Waluyo’s political strategies. Can Waluyo convicne him to relinquish his Buddhist ways or will his kingdom fall into the hands of his brother-in-law King Jayagapor?
Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres – Kelefa Sanneh
Canongate | Pub Date: 30th November | Pre-Order HERE
Simon: If you know me, you’ll know I can’t go past a book that explores the history of popular music. It’s something of an occupational hazard really, thanks to my PhD and my writing for the AU. So when a new one comes along I take notice. Major Labels looks to be hitting all the right notes too.
For starters, Kelefa Sanneh clearly knows what he’s talking about: he’s a former New York Times music critic and a staff writer for the New Yorker. There is also the promise of debunking of myths, hero reappraisal and an exploration of how popular music both unites and divides us. After all, it’s not just music; culture and popular music are lenses through which we are able to see and understand the world we live in. Yes, it’s the story of bands and artists, but it’s also a way of exploring larger forces and telling bigger stories. I’m excited to get stuck in and explore some new perspectives to those bigger stories.
Thanks to Emily Paull and Jess Gately for their contributions to this article.
Header Image: Mona Høvring by BookHug