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13 of the Best New Literary Fiction Reads

Collage of book covers of 13 of the best literary fiction books

Literary fiction is the category of fiction with the most slippery, “I know it when I see it” definition. For this list of 13 of the best new literary fiction books, I’ve focused on beautiful writing, universal themes of the human condition, and just plain old good books, regardless of genre. These are literary fiction titles from the last few years, with a focus on newer books. Looking to read these books with others? Check out our guide to running your own book club.

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong

Katrina is obsessed with her coworker Kurt, and shocked when he invites her to witness his death and tells her he knows she’s been watching him, and she is to blame for everything. Now she is horrified to learn that he was watching her back the entire time.

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

Divorced at 29, her graduate thesis going nowhere, Maggie decides to embrace her new life and “get back out there” as the all-new Maggie.

Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

In 1976, three Black siblings are murdered in the segregated town of West Mills. Jo Wright, newly back in town to marry her high school sweetheart, learns that her husband is related to the victims…and a suspect. So she sets out to prove his innocence.

In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas

An old woman fresh off the Underground Railroad in Canada kills a slave catcher and refuses to flee. A young journalist tries to interview her, but the woman proposes that they instead share their stories with each other.

The Faraway World by Patricia Engel

From the author of Infinite Country, these stories are connected by themes of immigration and desperation. In New York City, two Colombians meet. In Cuba, a woman learns that her brother’s bones have been stolen from his grave; meanwhile, her Ecuadorian lover appears for a surprise visit. In Miami, a couple does whatever it takes to earn money.

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

A career-oriented Black lawyer moves in with her new boyfriend and his roommates, and is caught up in a world of illegal gun trading and doomsday prepping.

Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan

Sashi dreams of becoming a doctor, but instead her home of Sri Lanka is taken over by a vicious civil war and she has to watch as her brothers are caught up in politics.

Margot by Wendell Steavenson

Heiress Margot’s mother has a plan for her life — marriage — but Margot is far more interested in her science studies. When a fire changes the family’s fortunes, Margot finds intellectual and sexual freedom at Radcliffe College.

The Things We Do to Our Friends by Heather Darwent

Claire arrives in Edinburgh ready to reinvent herself, and quickly falls into a new group of friends. But when they ask for her help with an art project, she realizes just how codependent — and dangerous — the group really is.

Small World by Laura Zigman

Newly single Joyce invites her just-divorced sister Lydia to stay with her, and they learn to live together again as adults. But instead of getting stronger, their relationship frays as they unearth secrets and discuss the childhood death of their sister Eleanor.

Central Places by Delia Cai

Chinese American Audrey brings her white Manhattanite fiancé Ben home to the small town in Illinois where she grew up, but once there she finds herself totally reexamining both the life she left behind and the one she thought she wanted in New York.

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Twelve-year-old Bird goes on an epic adventure to find his poet mother, who went into hiding from the fascist government three years earlier, in an attempt to protect Bird.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

From the author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Sam and Sadie meet at Harvard, and by age 25 they’ve co-created a wildly successful video game. Over the next 30 years, their friendship grows together and apart.

If you’re looking for even more great fiction, check out our list of the best literary book club recommendations. Or, for more personalized book recommendations, try TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. There are two subscription options: receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks — perfect for library users! — or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!