This is a list of five books which I am eager to read in 2021. As usual, I am drawing attention to books from different genres: (i) literary fiction; (ii) non-fiction; (iii) thriller; (iv) dark mystery/horror; and (v) historical fiction.
I. Klara & The Sun  by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he won his Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. The Penguin Random House says on its website that this new novel “tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her. Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?“. Obviously, my expectations are sky high regarding this book and I think Ishiguro can pull this one off beautifully since he previously distinguished himself as the author of a literary “dystopia” Never Let Me Go  and his books often emphasise the pains of love and missed opportunities. My only hope is that he would not follow the path of Ian McEwan and his Machines Like Me  and keep his narrative “grounded” and “subtle”.
Klara & The Sun is released on 2 March 2021.
II. When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep  by Antonio Zadra & Robert Stickgold
There are probably hundreds of books such as this one published (or trying to get published) each year, but for a long time now I have wanted to re-introduce myself to the science of sleep and dreaming, and it looks like this book can provide some up-to-date information. The shocking thing (at least for me) is that scientists seem to be asking the same questions now, in 2020, about sleep and dreaming that Greek philosophers were asking in the 6th century BC: “why do we dream?”, “do dreams have any meaning and connection to reality?”, “what could be their true purpose”?, etc. We are simply nowhere near to solving the riddle of dreams. Goodreads says: “When Brains Dream addresses…core questions about dreams while illuminating the most up-to-date science in the field… [it also] debunks common myths; that we only dream in REM sleep, for example—while acknowledging the mysteries that persist…When Brains Dream reveals recent discoveries about the sleeping brain and the many ways in which dreams are psychologically, and neurologically, meaningful experiences; explores a host of dream-related disorders; and explains how dreams can facilitate creativity….“.
When Brains Dream is due to be published on 12 January 2021.
IIL Bullet Train  by Kotaro Isaka
This is a Japanese thriller and a bestseller in Japan first published in the original language in 2010. The story is about five killers who find themselves on a bullet train (shinkansen) from Tokyo competing for a suitcase full of money. The question is who will make it to the last station? The book is now being remade into a film starring Brad Pitt in the leading role. Why do I want to read it? Japanese thrillers are almost always original and criminally-underappreciated. I love the fact that this thriller takes place in one enclosed location – on one moving train – and will involve a number of people interacting with each, trying to uncover each other’s secrets. That may lead to interesting psychological situations.
Bullet Train will be released by Harvill Secker imprint on 1 April 2021 (UK).
IV. All’s Well  by Mona Awad
I will be honest. I did not get along with Mona Awad’s previous book Bunny  all all. I found the book trying and had a hard time finishing it, even though the synopsis appealed to me. I am more than prepared to give the author a second chance and the premise of her new book – All’s Well – sounds interesting, with an intriguing character study, dark humour and plenty of Shakespeare! It is even marketed as “horror”, apparently. This book is about “a theatre professor suffering chronic pain, who in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.” It is also said of the book that “with prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged…genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain“ (Goodreads).
All’s Well is to be published on 3 August 2021.
V. The Four Winds  by Kristin Hannah
This book is by the author of The Great Alone  and The Nightingale , and I am particularly interested in reading it because it set during the Great Depression of the US. Goodreads says: “Texas, 1934…In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbours—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation“.
The Four Winds‘s publication date is 9 February 2021.
Do any of the books above look interesting to you? What book releases are you looking forward to?