There’s so many amazing books coming out in 2023, I figured I’d share a list of my most anticipated upcoming book releases of 2023 that I recommend you check out and maybe absorb with your beautiful brain meats.
Please Note: I have the attention span of a wet noodle, so the books on this list will consist of some very different genres.
Also Note: I adore anthologies/collections, so this list will include more of them than is probably typical. Sorry (not really).
There’s No Way I’d Die First by Lisa Springer
Release Date: September 5
I flippin’ love horror, man.
Lisa Springer brings us a contemporary horror novel that follows horror movie buff, Noelle Layne, who plans to host the Halloween party of the century—and she just might succeed, since the clown she hired turns out to be a little more murder-y than she was expecting.
I hope Noelle’s in-depth knowledge on all things “horror tropes” means that There’s No Way I’d Die First will serve as a fun and creepy homage to those tropes. If the title itself is any indication, I like our odds, folks.
I’m also getting some Final Girl Support Group and It vibes (with maybe a hint of Escape Room?), and it goes without saying that I’m immediately down for a contemporary horror novel packed with horror movie tropes tropes, all with a Black final girl protagonist going toe-to-toe with a killer clown at a Halloween party. Hell yeah.
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Release Date: May 16
I have many, many thoughts about the publishing industry, particularly its depressing lack of representation (note: many publishers have indeed launched new diversity initiatives, both in hiring and in publishing, so here’s to hoping we’re seeing change in the right direction). That’s why I was thrilled to see that R.F. Kuang, author of the incredible Poppy War and the incomparable Babel, is soon releasing a book that critiques the industry, cultural appropriation, and the constant erasure of Asian-American voices.
Yellowface follows author June Hayward, an aspiring author who sees an opportunity when successful debut author Athena Liu dies suddenly—leaving behind a masterpiece of a novel centered around the oft-forgotten but vital contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I. It’s a perfect, important story that deserves to be told—one that June promptly sends in to her publisher as her own. There’s only one problem: June isn’t Asian. And when “her” novel becomes a roaring success and her publisher gives her the pseudonym Juniper Song, she’ll do everything possible to keep her little secret.
Also, check Kuang’s recent TikTok on Yellowface. Simply *chef’s kiss*.
Chain Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Release Date: May 2
I am forever a massive fan of Adjei-Brenyah’s work. His debut novel, Friday Black, a collection of speculative short stories, stuck with me for its brutal and unapologetic glimpse into a not-so-distant future; a future in which rampant consumerism, racism, and injustice are further commodified and embedded into the everyday American life. If nothing else, please, please at least read “Zimmer Land” and “The Finkelstein Five.” I read the collection right when it came out in 2018, and to this day I still think about them often.
His next work, Chain Gang All-Stars, keeps the speculative element that I love so much: one that appears absurd, yet could very well be our future as racism and the exploitative nature of capitalism go unchecked.
The novel follows two women who star in Chain Gang All-Stars, the titular sports program where prisoners can win their freedom by killing their way to the top for the entertainment of American sports fans nationwide.
Nana and Pantheon were kind enough to send me a copy, and it’s everything I had hoped for from the author of one of my favorite books of all time. Sharp, brutal, and emotional, if you’re looking for a good dystopian read that gives a scathing look at systemic racism, corporate profiteering, and the prison-industrial complex, Chain Gang All-Stars is definitely a book release you should be keeping an eye out for.
Writing in Color: Fourteen Writers on the Lessons We’ve Learned, edited by Nafiza Azad and Melody Simpson
Release Date: August 23
Are you a BIPOC writer looking to get published? I have heard from many authors looking to get traditionally published that the industry can be rather vague and difficult to navigate, and that’s only assuming you can even finish a book to start shopping around—a daunting task indeed.
That’s why I’m excited for Writing in Color, an anthology of fourteen essays by authors of color giving advice to all the newbie writers out there looking to get published. The essays cover various stages in the writing/publishing process, from finding your voice as a writer to the steps to take after your book is finished. If you’re looking for some helpful insight into what it’s like being a published author (and how to get there), Writing in Color may be just what you need.
Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree
Release Date: November 7
We. Need. More. Cozy fantasy.
Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes definitely scratched that itch if you’re with me in wanting to read something that doesn’t make you feel…you know, dead inside.
If a cozy coffee shop wasn’t enough for the intrepid bookworm looking to sit at home and read on a rainy day, Baldree is turning things up a notch with a bookstore and the same low-stakes, wholesome vibes that made Legends & Lattes so beloved.
I like this. I need this. Don’t know about y’all, but my interest in high-stakes “anyone could die at any moment” kinds of stories has sort of plummeted lately.
Everything sucks. Let us escape it with something nice and cozy.
Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe
Release Date: April 25
I am so excited for this book, not only for its unique composition that makes it read like a song or a poem, but also for its celebration of Blackness across mediums.
It’s a love letter to Black art and history, centered around Sharpe’s mother, Ida Wright Sharpe; an exploration of an anti-Black past and present, and the possibilities of a more equitable future. And it’s all written in the form of 248 notes that “gather meaning as we read them.”
I recall Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric and the brilliant way these collected vignettes told a story of the Black experience, from the everyday microaggression to media bias and hypocrisy, and how these encounters tell a much different story than that of an ostensibly colorblind, post-race society we apparently live in. I found it to be an incredibly unique and effective form of storytelling, and I cannot wait to see how Sharpe weaves together these 248 notes to create a “Dictionary of Untranslatable Blackness.”
And hey, as of writing this post, Ordinary Notes just so happens to be releasing this coming Tuesday! What a serendipitous turn of events that is not at all because I have had this book on my TBR list for a very long time and had intended to post this article way sooner.
Abolition for the People, edited by Colin Kaepernick
Release Date: September 5
Edited by Colin Kaepernick, who was famously frozen out by the NFL and criticized nationwide for kneeling in protest during the National Anthem, Abolition for the People is a collection of thirty essays by everyone from activists and scholars to political prisoners and family members of the victims of police brutality.
On the subject of protests, lately I’ve been seeing a lot of praise for the people of France, who have been burning cars and breaking windows in defiance of the controversial bill proposed that will increase the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Honestly, good for them. And since French President Macron went ahead and signed the bill anyway, we might just see them breaking out the guillotines and giving us all a taste of the French Revolution real soon. Sick.
However, I have also noticed a lot of people saying that we should take a page out of the French playbook here in the United States. You know, get tough. Get mad. Don’t let the government push you around.
It’s frustrating, because whenever activists (specifically queer, Black, and indigenous activists) practice civil disobedience and inconvenience people here, they are criticized relentlessly for not protesting in a way that is more palatable to white America. Kaepernick is a great example, and all he did was kneel.
So what is the way to protest? How do we even begin to reconcile with a system that is corrupt at its very core?
Abolition for the People is a collection that challenges readers to recognize the systems that serve to protect capital and the ultra rich, covering the futility of police reform, the massive harm of the prison-industrial complex, and all the possibilities of a radical, abolitionist future.