On 28 January, people around the UK will celebrate National Storytelling Week (NSW), dedicated to the oldest art form in the world. Its goal is to spread awareness and celebrate the practice of oral storytelling by running a range of events across schools and libraries in the UK.
NSW is also the perfect opportunity to look back on the greatest new stories to have hit bookshop shelves in the last year.
So, discover 10 of the best books that came out in 2022 to enjoy for this year’s NSW.
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
Eight years after meeting each other in a hospital waiting room, Sadie and Sam reunite. After collaborating to create a video game that brings them fame and fortune, the two must weather their ambition, betrayals, and their newfound stardom.
The winner of the Goodreads Choice Award in the Best Fiction category, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a magnificent blend of reality and the digital world, in what is never quite a love story that sprawls across 30 years of its characters’ lives.
2. All This Could Be Different, Sarah Thankam Mathews
Sneha’s new life in Milwaukee is comfortable. Her job allows her to send money back to her parents in India and treat her friends to dinner, and she finds herself swept up in an intoxicating relationship with a gorgeous dancer from New Jersey.
But when her first attempts at adult life begin to fall apart, Sneha must learn to rely on her friends and trust her instincts as she grapples with the knowledge that her life could have been very different.
Mathews’ beautiful prose and moving portrayal of first-generation immigrants earned her novel a place as a finalist in the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction.
3. The Passenger, Cormac McCarthy
There would be nothing unusual about Bobby Western finding nine bodies on the sunken plane – if it weren’t for the fact that 10 passengers boarded the doomed flight. Caught up in a conspiracy beyond his understanding, the salvage diver finds himself pursued by mysterious figures. To outrun the people hunting him, he will finally have to come to terms with his own troubled past.
McCarthy’s first novel in 16 years is a beautiful and melancholic exploration of intergenerational guilt and the conflict between morality and science. A worthy addition to the bibliography of one of America’s best living novelists, The Passenger has been longlisted for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
4. The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki
After the tragic death of his father, teenage Benny starts being able to hear the voices of inanimate objects. When his mother’s new hoarding habit causes the noise to become too loud for him to bear, he finds refuge in a nearby library, where the voices are quiet and well-behaved. There, he can make new friends – including a street performer, her pet ferret, and a philosophic poet – and reckon with his loss.
Ozeki’s poignant inspection of our attachment to material objects combined with a heartbreaking plot, which covers topics such as climate change, jazz, and mental health, is exactly why The Book of Form and Emptiness won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2022.
5. Young Mungo, Douglas Stuart
If fate had allowed Mungo and James to fall in love anywhere else, they may have lived a happy life together. But trapped on a Glasgow housing estate that is divided by religion and expectations of hyper-masculinity, they must keep their blossoming relationship a secret from the violent gangs that would harm them if they discovered the truth.
When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip with two strange men hiding dark pasts, he must summon all his courage to hide his heart until he can return home to his lover.
Stuart’s Sunday Times Bestseller is a profound exploration of the heavy expectations we place on young men. His vivid descriptions of western Scotland and gripping portrayal of family creates an unforgettable tale of vulnerable star-crossed lovers.
6. The Marriage Portrait, Maggie O’Farrell
The life Lucrezia knows is thrown into chaos when her older sister is found dead the night before she is due to marry the ruler of Ferrara. Her father is quick to agree when the duke asks for her hand in marriage instead, but there is a secretive side to her new fiancé that suggests he is not the chivalrous socialite he claims to be.
If Lucrezia fails to adapt to the new world she has been thrust into – or can’t deliver an heir – she may meet the same mysterious fate as her sister.
O’Farrell transports you to Renaissance Italy with an enchanting blend of historical accuracy and inspiration taken from Robert Browning’s poem My Last Duchess, devising a suspenseful plot that follows a young girl realising that her husband may not be the gentleman she thought he was.
7. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka
The afterlife, as Maali Almeida discovers, is much like a celestial visa office. The war photographer is given seven moons – one week – to guide the two most important people from his life to a box of photographs hidden under his bed that could expose the violent nature of the insurrections that devastated Sri Lanka in the 80s. And he still has no idea who killed him.
Heralded as one of Sri Lanka’s best authors, Karunatilaka delves into a brutal part of his country’s history in a comedic but sentimental way, earning him the Booker Prize Award in 2022.
8. Yoga, Emmanuel Carrère
In January 2015, Emmanuel Carrère set out on a 10-day yoga retreat that would serve as research for his new novel. Four days into the trip, he receives a phone call informing him that his friend has died in a terrorist attack, and his life quickly begins to fall apart.
This deeply personal nonfiction novel explores Carrère’s life with brutal honesty, detailing his divorce and a stint in a mental hospital, all while demonstrating that a meditative attitude towards one’s life is necessary to prevent you losing your mind.
9. The Trees, Percival Everett
Every time a body is found in the rural town of Money, Mississippi, a second one – resembling the corpse of Emmett Till – appears beside it. The two detectives assigned to the case assume that the string of killings is retribution for the town’s rampant racism, but as similar cases begin cropping up all over America, the only person who may have the answer to this mystery is the woman who has documented every lynching in the country since 1913.
Everett’s fast-paced crime novel uses comic horror to highlight the racism that is still prevalent today, using a brilliant mix of heartbreaking prose, suspense, and humour.
10. Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo
With the assistance of his “Chosen Ones”, Old Horse ruled Jidada for 40 years. Destiny, a young goat, returns to her home just in time to witness the revolution that will finally overthrow him, and the chaos that ensues when the other animals are forced to keep up the illusion of absolute power.