1. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead)
Afiter World War I leaves the Wray family in dire straights, Mrs. Wray and her daughter, Frances, take on the unhappily married Barbers as lodgers. What happens between Frances and Mrs. Barber is shocking, no matter what generation you belong to.
2. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Simon & Schuster)
A complicated, epic novel about Irish-American immigrants searching for a stake in the American dream. In Ed, Eileen believes she's found her ticket out, only to discover that his disappointing contentment with the status quo masks deeper, darker stuggles.
3. Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce (Doubleday)
This sexy, sad, and honest debut—which got Tierce named to the National Book Foundation's 5 under 35—is about Marie, a drug-using, sex-abusing single mom working as a waitress in Dallas and navigating her early 20s on tips, favors, and not nearly enough self-worth.
4. A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing
by Eimear McBride (Coffee House)
McBride's stunning debut will change you: Her stream-of- consciousness-like prose goes so far into her unnamed protagonist's mind—how she deals with a manic mother, a cancer-stricken brother, a not-to-be- trusted uncle—that you'll feel her losses as your own.
5. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Random House)
Holly, a 15-year-old who hears voices, is sick of living under parental tyranny, so she packs her bags—and embarks on a fantastic, perilous journey over continents and decades. Fans of Mitchell's
will find this equally ambitious and mind-bending.
6. The Children Act by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese)
Family court judge Fiona takes on a case in which a minor with a serious health condition is being denied treatment at his parents' directive. Typical of McEwan's best novels, Fiona's predicament makes us question our own morals—and leaves a lasting impression.
All images courtesy of the publisher