The NS guide to: What you'll be reading in 2007

Look out for Norman Mailer's strange saga of the Hitler family and John Major's history of cricket's

This festive season, a visit from The Ghost of Books Yet To Come - publishing houses' 2007 lists - reveals some surprises. One of the strangest is Norman Mailer's The Castle in the Forest (Little, Brown, February), a "wildly entertaining" fictional saga of the Hitler family.

As ever, literature is under fire from bright young things, represented in 2007 by the first-time author Steven Hall. The Raw Shark Texts (Canongate, March) is a postmodern odyssey in which a preternaturally attractive and articulate young man is pursued by "a conceptual shark". Meanwhile, former bright-young-thing Dave Eggers offers an ambitious novel of the Sudanese civil war, What is the What (Hamish Hamilton, May).

Less challengingly, Tory wordsmiths have been busy with subjects dear to every Englishman's heart. Boris Johnson's The British (Harper Collins, May) investigates just what (if anything) we have in common with each other, while John Major's More Than a Game: the story of cricket's early years (HarperSport, May) promises a definitive distinction between "gentlemen" and "players".

British readers can catch up on international controversy with Alaa al-Aswany's The Yacoubian Building (Fourth Estate, February), which created uproar in the Middle East over its frank portrayal of homosexuality, corruption and poverty on the streets of Cairo.

But, comfortingly, not all is change and/or decay. Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright (HarperCollins, March) transports the "human relationships are the root of all art" formula of Girl With a Pearl Earring to 18th-century London. This time, the pure-hearted ingénues are a pair of fetching street urchins, and the brooding artist is William Blake. Colin Firth, stand by.

This article first appeared in the 18 December 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year Special 2006