Read ahead for 2013

What are the new sensations in the book world this coming year? Feel-good yarns about guys with Asperger's, amazing true-ish stories from history, and a monster apocalypse.

That's what you might deduce from the dramatic debuts of two Australian authors and some hopefuls overseas. The local stars are Graeme Simsion, whose ''classic screwball romance'' The Rosie Project (Text, March) has been sold into more than 30 countries; and Hannah Kent, who scored a seven-figure offer for Burial Rites (Picador, May), a novel about the last woman to be beheaded, in Iceland in 1830.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Justin Cronin's vampires, monsters stalk the earth in Ben Percy's Red Moon (Hodder & Stoughton, May) and Max Brooks's World War Z (Bloomsbury, April), a cult novel first released in 2006 and given new zombie life by the film tie-in edition.

And if you're looking for the next J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury claims to have found her: Samantha Shannon, signed on for six dystopian novels with film rights sold while she was still an Oxford undergraduate. The first book, The Bone Season, is out in September.

Below are more highlights in adult books for 2013.

FICTION

Publishers are constantly looking for the next big thing, but in literature it's often longevity that counts. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold comes a new novel from John le Carre, A Delicate Truth (Viking, May) described as ''a furiously paced story of moral dilemma, personal guilt, bold action and unexpected love''.

Ever wondered what happened to that poor terrorised psychic boy in The Shining? After 36 years, Stephen King has a sequel, Doctor Sleep (Hodder & Stoughton, November). Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert has her first novel for 12 years, The Signature of All Things (Bloomsbury, October). And in Australia, Blanche d'Alpuget has her first novel out for 20 years: The Young Lion (HarperCollins, September) is about intrigue and passion in the royal court of 12th-century France.

Indeed, there's a strong trend towards novels based on the lives of real people. Australian novelist Steven Carroll has the second book in his T.S. Eliot series, A World of Other People (Fourth Estate, May). Kate Manning's My Notorious Life by Madame X (Bloomsbury, July) is about a scandalous New York abortionist. Kate Forsyth's Wild Girl (Random House, April) is a story of the girl who loved Wilhelm Grimm. Therese Anne Fowler's Z (Two Roads, March) is a novel about Zelda Fitzgerald. There are Australian novels about Miles Franklin (Maggie MacKellar's Miles, Random House, September) and the bushranger Ben Hall (Trevor Shearston's The Game, Allen & Unwin, August).

Overseas highlights include Margaret Atwood's final novel in the Oryx and Crake trilogy, MaddAddam (Bloomsbury, September); a third novel from The Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini, and The Mountains Echoed (Bloomsbury, May); Lionel Shriver's Big Brother (Fourth Estate, May); Kate Atkinson's Life After Life (Random House, May); and a new Julian Barnes work (Random House, no date yet).

Readers of Australian fiction can look forward to a fable from J.M. Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus (Text, March); a futuristic vision from Carpentaria author Alexis Wright, The Swan Book (Giramondo, August); a story set in the Burma-Siam death camps from Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Random House, August); a tale of art forgery and murder in Chris Womersley's Cairo (Scribe, September); an alternative Melbourne under Japanese rule in John A. Scott's N (Brandl & Schlesinger, August); a tale of a reluctant prime minister's wife in Fiona Capp's Gotland (Fourth Estate, July): and a modern-day reimagining of Lady Chatterley's Lover from Nikki Gemmell in The Secret Gate (Fourth Estate, June).

Look out for new novels from Andrea Goldsmith (The Memory Trap, Fourth Estate, May); Katerina Cosgrove (Bone Ash Sky, Hardie Grant, May); Honey Brown (Dark Horse, Penguin, May); Joan London (Random House, November); and Rod Jones (Empire Street, Text, August). Among debut novels, notables are Inheritance, by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Sleepers, February) and Cat & Fiddle by Lesley Jorgensen (Scribe, February).

If you're after entertainment, blockbusters are on the way from Pan Macmillan authors Jeffrey Archer (Best Kept Secret, March); Wilbur Smith (Vicious Circle, October); and Sue Grafton (W is for …, October); and Di Morrissey and Matthew Riley will have new novels around Christmas. A very classy writer, William Boyd, has turned his hand to the latest James Bond book (Random House, October).

Fans of Australian short fiction should note collections from Georgia Blain (The Secret Lives of Men, Scribe, April); Andy Kissane (The Swarm, Puncher & Wattmann, March); Laura Jean McKay (Holiday in Cambodia, Black Inc, July); Maria Takolander (The Double, Text, August); John Kinsella (Tide and Other Stories, Transit Lounge, September); and veteran Aboriginal storyteller Clarrie Cameron (Magabala Books, August).

LIFE STORIES

Three very different Australians lead the life story stakes. Ricky Ponting's autobiography is coming from HarperCollins in November; Peter Reith talks politics in The Reith Papers (MUP, July); and right-to-die champion Philip Nitschke tells all in Damned If You Do (MUP, September).

Coincidentally, there's a father-daughter act from Peter Goldsworthy (His Stupid Boyhood, Penguin, June) and Anna Goldsworthy (Welcome to Your New Life, Black Inc, April), her second memoir, about having a child. As usual, difficult childhoods and difficult parenting feature strongly in the memoir line-up: two of the most promising are Jo Case's Boomer and Me, about her child with Asperger's (Hardie Grant, April) and Ali Cobby Eckermann's prose and verse memoir of the stolen generation, Too Afraid to Cry (Ilura Press, January). And there's a timely look at a same-sex marriage in Michelle Dicinoski's Ghost Wife (Black Inc, March).

Looking into Australia's past, there are biographies of Sir Henry Parkes: The Australian Colossus, by Stephen Dando-Collins (Random House, November); of Victorian Premier Sir Rupert Hamer, by Tim Colebatch (Scribe, November); and of C.J. Dennis, An Unsentimental Bloke, by Philip Butterss (Wakefield Press, March). Helen Trinca's Madeleine (Text, April) is a life of the underrated author Madeleine St John. And for colourful characters in the present, look out for Sean Parnell's Clive (HarperCollins, August), about Clive Palmer; and Sue Williams' Father Bob (Penguin, May), about outspoken cleric Bob Maguire.

Two Fairfax journalists enter the memoir stakes: Raymond Gill writes about growing up in 1970s Melbourne suburbia (Hardie Grant, August); and Jill Stark writes about how she gave up alcohol for a year (High Sobriety, Scribe, February).

Possibly the most difficult memoir to write was Stephen Hawking's My Brief Life (Random House, no date), since the author can only communicate with a muscle in his eye. The book is based on a lecture, with an extra 5000 words of rare personal detail.

Literary memoirs include Saul Bellow's Heart, by his son Greg Bellow (Bloomsbury, May); Nicholas Shakespeare's Priscilla, about his aunt (Random House, May); and a book from Mister Pip author Lloyd Jones (Text, October). And celebrity memoirs are on the way from Courtney Love (Pan Macmillan, May); Anjelica Huston (Simon & Schuster, September) and Burt Bacharach (Anyone Who Had a Heart, Atlantic Books, May).

CRIME YARNS

Another bumper year for Australian crime fiction, with books from Barry Maitland (Raven's Eye, Allen & Unwin, August); Garry Disher (Hell to Pay, Text, August); Robert Gott (The Holiday Murders, Scribe, February); Angela Savage (The Dead Beach, Text, July); Tony Cavanaugh (Dead Girl Sing, Hodder & Headline, February); Alan Carter (Getting Warmer, Fremantle Press, October); and Adrian McKinty (I Hear the Sirens in the Street, Serpent's Tail, February).

Debut crime authors include Nick Place (Roll With It, Hardie Grant, March); Sue Williams (Murder with the Lot, Text, March); and Stephen Orr (Wheatbelt, Text, September). And perhaps the most quirky crime novel is Maurilia Meehan's Madame Bovary's Haberdashery (Transit Lounge, April).

Some particularly promising overseas crime novels are The Cockroaches from Jo Nesbo (Random House, October); Robert Crais's Suspect (Little, Brown, January); Warren Ellis's graphic novel Gun Machine (Mulholland Books, January) and Deliverance of Evil (Pan Macmillan, April), first in a trilogy by Roberto Constantini, hailed as the Italian Stieg Larsson.

IDEAS AND EXPLORATIONS

What's wrong with Labor? Several people want to tell us: Mark Latham in his Quarterly Essay: On Labor and the Left (Black Inc, March); Aaron Patrick and Jason Koutsoukis in Takeover (ABC Books, July); and Brad Orgill in Why Labor Should Eat Its Greens (Scribe, June).

And what about misogyny? Anne Summers will investigate in a book on feminism (NewSouth, April), as will Anna Goldsworthy in a Quarterly Essay (Black Inc, June), while Jane Caro is editing a collection of prominent Australian women's responses to Alan Jones (Destroying the Joint, UQP, May).

Helen Garner's books on trials seem to have inspired others: Anna Krien's Night Games (Black Inc, May), about the rape trial of a footballer; and John Safran's bizarre Murder in Mississippi (Penguin, July), about the killing of a white supremacist.

The history book of the year will be The Cambridge History of Australia (September), a two-volume set edited by professors Stuart Macintyre and Alison Bashford, which Cambridge University Press says is ''the most authoritative, comprehensive account of the nation's past in several decades''. Look out also for another two-volume history, Matthew Condon's epic tale of crime and corruption in Queensland, Three Crooked Kings (March) and All Fall Down (October, both from UQP). And Malcolm Knox will examine the history of Australia through its mines (Penguin, September).

Two writers look at two tumultuous years: Bill Bryson in 1927 (September); and Paul Ham in 1914: The Making of the Western Front (October, both Random House).

A.C. Grayling gives us his magnum anti-religion opus in The God Argument (Bloomsbury, April). Simon Schama brings us History of the Jews (Random House, April). Jared Diamond looks at what we can learn from traditional societies in World Until Yesterday (Penguin, January). Al Gore tackles drivers of global change (Random House, July). And Dave Eggers puts out his first travel-writing collection, Visitants (Penguin, February).

Several books investigate the future of social media, including The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen (John Murray, May); Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier (John Murray, March); The End of Big by Nicco Mele (Black Inc, April) and a book about Jeff Bezos by Brad Stone (Random House, May).

POETRY

Puncher & Wattmann is publishing a verse novella from Anthony Lawrence, The Welfare of My Enemy (February) and his new collection, The Unfair Ground (November); also New and Selected from Alex Skovron (September), Geoff Page (October) and Peter Boyle (May).

Giramondo has collections from Lisa Gorton (The Hotel Hyperion, March); Judith Beveridge (Devadatta's Poems, August); and debut poet Corey Wakeling (The Goad Omen, March). Black Pepper has three books in January: Stephen Edgar's Eldershaw; Andrew Sant's The Bicycle Thief; and Homer Rieth's 150 Motets. John Leonard Press has New and Selected from Kevin Brophy (October) and Jacinta Le Plastrier's The Book of Assassination (March). And Fremantle Press has Tracy Ryan's Unearthed (July).

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