1. A Mercy by Toni Morrison November 2008 FictionA notable omission, I reckon, is Robert Bolano's 2666 - surely one of the most talked about books at the moment.
A powerful tragedy distilled into a jewel of a masterpiece by the Nobel Prize–winning author of Beloved and, almost like a prelude to that story, set two centuries earlier.
2. Once On A Moonless Night by Dai Sijie January 2009 Fiction
Beguiling and ambitious, this new novel by the author of "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress", is ostensibly a search for an ancient text, and a love story. But beneath that is a haunting tale about language and identity, about the shifting layers of history under the confusing surface of Chinese life and politics, with a final Buddhist twist.
3. A Mad Desire To Dance by Elie Wiesel February 2009 Fiction
From Elie Wiesel, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and one of our fiercest moral voices, a provocative and deeply thoughtful new novel about a life shaped by the worst horrors of the twentieth century and one man’s attempt to reclaim happiness.
4. Tales Of Freedom by Ben Okri April 2009 Fiction
In Tales of Freedom, the Booker Prize winning novelist brings both poetry and story together in a fascinating new form, using writing and image pared down to their essentials, where haiku and story meet.
5. Nobody Move by Dennis Johnson April 2009 Fiction
From the National Book Award–winning, bestselling author of Tree of Smoke comes a provocative thriller set in the American West. Touched by echoes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Nobody Move is at once an homage to and a variation on literary form.
6. My Father's Tears and Other Stories by John Updike June 2009 Short Stories
John Updike’s first collection of new short fiction since 2000 finds the author in a valedictory mood as he mingles narratives of his native Pennsylvania with stories of New England suburbia and of foreign travel. In sum, American experience from the Depression to the aftermath of 9/11 finds reflection in these glittering pieces of observation, remembrance, and imagination.
7. Making an Elephant by Graham Swift June 2009 Autobiography
In his first ever work of nonfiction, the Booker Prize–winning author gives us a highly personal book: a singular and open-spirited account of a writer’s life. A journey through place and time, conversations and encounters, Making an Elephant brims with charm and candor, an alertness to experience, and a true engagement with words—in short, with what it means to believe that writing and reading are an essential part of living.
8. Jeff In Venice, Death In Varanasi by Geoff Dyer April 2009 Fiction
A beautifully told story of erotic love and spiritual yearning, "Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi" is playful, stylish, sensual, comic, ingenious and utterly captivating. It confirms Geoff Dyer as one of Britain's most exciting and original writers.
Jeff Atman, a journalist, is in Venice to cover the opening of the Venice Art Biennale. He's expecting to see a load of art, go to a lot of parties and drink too many bellinis. He's not expecting to meet the spellbinding Laura, who will completely transform his few days in the city. Another city, another assignment: this time on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi. Amid the crowds, ghats and chaos of India's holiest Hindu city a different kind of transformation lies in wait.
9. The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw May 2009 Fiction
Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St Hauda's Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around icy bogland; albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods; jellyfish glow in the ocean's depths… and Ida MacLaird is slowly turning into glass. A mysterious and frightening metamorphosis has befallen Ida – she is slowly turning into glass, from the feet up. She returns to St Hauda's Land, where she believes the glass first took hold, in search of a cure. The Girl with Glass Feet is a dazzlingly imaginative and gripping first novel, a love story to treasure.
Also out this year:
Simon Mawer - The Glass Room
Patrick McCabe - The Holy City
T.C. Boyle - The Women
Nami Mun - Miles from Nowhere
Anita Brookner - Strangers
Daniyal Mueenuddin - In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
Kazuo Ishiguro - Nocturnes
To add a little Malaysian flavour (of the overseas published kind) to the list I'd also have added Tash Aw's Map of the Invisible World, out in April, and Tinling Choong's Yuyu and the Banyan Tree which I believe should also be out in 2009.
There are also interesting lists of upcoming goodies in The Independent and The Times.
What books are you most looking forward to?