I’ve always had a knack for predicting bestsellers. In 2009, I read an advance reading copy of a compelling period novel set in Mississippi. The book had recently come out, and the author was appearing at the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia. I got my copy signed and I said to her, “I think this novel is going to hit the number one spot on the bestseller list and stay on it for a very long time.”
Which novel was it? The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which ended being on the New York Times bestselling list for 100 weeks.
Since we’re starting a new year tomorrow I’ve decided to share with you the books I predict everybody will be reading in the first part of 2018.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn — Ever since Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn came out in 2012, publishers have tried to duplicate its wild success, and the Woman in the Window is the latest contender. Flynn calls it, “astounding,” and Stephen King also gives it raves. It’s about a reclusive woman named Anna Fox who eavesdrops on her new neighbors in New York City.
They present themselves as the perfect family, but one evening Anna witnesses them doing something that shocks her to the core. (January).
Other potential mega-selling novels in the Gone Girl-wannabe category is The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (February) and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. (January).
Brass by Xhenet Aliu — Athens, Ga., author Aliu tells the story of a Elisie, a waitress, who dreams of leaving Waterbury, Conn. — an industrial city filled with abandoned brass factories. Instead, she finds herself pregnant and stuck. Seventeen years later she fears her daughter might be doomed to make similar mistakes. Library Journal and Booklist both give Brass starred reviews. (January).
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones — Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are living the American Dream in Atlanta until Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Will their love survive the separation? Early reviewers are comparing Jones to Pearl Cleage. (February).
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee — This debut novel explores the relationship between two Chinese-American sisters and how their bond is tested when one sister is diagnosed with mental illness. New York Times best-selling novelist Celeste Ng calls it, “… tender but unflinching …”
Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates — If you like dark twisty thrillers with a literary bent, Grist Mill Road is the book to read while under the covers with the doors locked. A terrible childhood crime bonds three men and menaces them well into adulthood. Kirkus calls the novel “mesmerizing and impossible to put down.” (January).
I think all these novels will be great successes, but here’s the book I think will win the most readers in 2018:
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin — How would you behave if you knew the date of your death? In 1969, four siblings consult a psychic and find out the answer to that disturbing question. The novel follows the characters over the next 50 years as the dates of their predicted deaths near. Each sibling comes to grip with their immortality in different ways. Pre-publication reviews have been glowing. Lorrie Moore lauds the novelists as a “great new talent.” (January).
THE AUGUSTA AUTHOR SERIES will kick off 2018 with Brig. Gen. A.J. Tata’s military thriller Direct Fire on Monday, Jan. 8, at Abel Brown. Tickets are $31 for the luncheon or $63 for lunch with Tata and a signed, hardcover copy of the novel. Lunch will be served at noon. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com.
Do you have local literary news? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. By the Book is published monthly on last Sundays.