The most anticipated novels of the new year from luminaries including Tom Wolfe, John Irving, Marilynne Robinson, Lionel Shriver, and more

These days it can feel like the seas of publishing are filled with derivative young-adult novels, tired franchise thrillers, and inane celebrity memoirs. But book lovers, don’t lose hope! If you squint your eyes, you can see an armada of promising titles on the 2012 horizon. From gifted new writers like Ayad Akhtar to firmly established figures like John Irving and Tom Wolfe, from engaging works of reportage to bookstore-blockbuster sequels, we’ve gathered a list of 10 upcoming works that we’re excited to read.

The Twelve
Justin Cronin
Cover your necks, because the nasty strain of vampirism that wreaked havoc throughout 2010’s best-selling The Passage will return in this hotly anticipated sequel.
Publication date: fall

In One Person
John Irving
Irving will celebrate his 70th birthday this year, and the literary lion keeps on roaring. Continuing his exploration of the world that hides just beneath New England’s cozy surface, his 13th novel is about a bisexual man reflecting on his life in the 1950s through the AIDS epidemic.
Publication date: May 8

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Katherine Boo
Prizewinning journalist Boo documents the destitute shadow settlements of Mumbai in this nonfiction chronicle of caste and class in a country rushing so quickly into the future that it is leaving some citizens in the dust.
Publication date: Feb. 7

Back to Blood
Tom Wolfe
The Bonfire of the Vanities was as much about New York City as anything else, while A Man in Full told you more about Atlanta’s political scene than you ever really cared to know. Similarly, Wolfe’s latest work — coming eight years after the disappointing I Am Charlotte Simmons — will take on Miami as both setting and primary target.
Publication date: fall

Cheryl Strayed
If you’re tired of cushy emotional journeys through European pastry shops and Indonesian resort towns from twentysomething writers who conflate a life epiphany with a great éclair, you might want to try this memoir about Strayed’s 1,100-mile solo hike up the Pacific Crest Trail.
Publication date: March 20

American Dervish
Ayad Akhtar
In his much-buzzed-about debut novel about a Pakistani-American boy, Akhtar grapples with what it means to be Muslim in America and, more universally, what it means to be young.
Publication date: Jan. 9

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack
Mark Leyner
Despite what the title might suggest, Leyner’s brand of comedic writing tends to be more salty than sweet. His new novel details the interactions between mortals and a group of mischievous gods with names like La Felina, XOXO, and Fast-Cooking Ali.
Publication date: March 26

The New Republic
Lionel Shriver
Shriver wrote this Portugal-set novel back in 1998, but it was rejected by a number of publishers. Of course, so was her brilliant We Need to Talk About Kevin, so we still have high hopes for this one.
Publication date: March 27

When I Was a Child, I Read Books
Marilynne Robinson
Robinson’s novels have long taken home accolades (including the 2005 Pulitzer for Gilead), but her nonfiction, like this essay collection, should never be overlooked.
Publication date: March 13

The Yellow Birds
Kevin Powers
Little, Brown quickly snapped up the manuscript for this novel by author and Iraq veteran Powers, whom they’ve compared to such icons of war fiction as Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien.
Publication date: fall