Alison Flood, guardian.co.uk,
Arguably Britain's greatest novelist, Charles Dickens was also a political radical, a journalist and a father of 10. As widespread celebrations are planned to mark the bicentenary of his birth next year, Claire Tomalin gets in early with a biography, tracing his life from a childhood that saw the author working in a blacking factory by the age of 12, to an adulthood in which he created some of literature's most enduring characters, from the Artful Dodger to David Copperfield.
IQ84, by Haruki Murakami: Books One and Two, and Book Three
Harvill Secker, October
Japan's hottest contender for the Nobel prize in literature, Haruki Murakami, is back after a six-year hiatus since his last long-form novel, Kafka on the Shore, was published in English. IQ84, inspired by George Orwell's 1984 ("nine" in Japanese is pronounced "q"), was rapturously received in Japan: it sold 1m copies within a month in 2009. The three-volume novel tells of Aomame and Tengo as they discover that they inhabit a strange parallel universe.
Foundation, by Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd begins his hugely ambitious six-volume history of England with Foundation, which moves from the neolithic England of 15,000 years ago, when the country was first settled, through Roman rule and the dark ages to medieval England and Henry VII's death in 1509. Ackroyd is prolific and versatile: he wins prizes for his fiction as well as his biographies, and is a poet as well as a critic. This latest outing is perhaps his boldest; the Bookseller has compared it to "the monumental histories of Churchill, Trevelyan and Macaulay".
The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Fourth Estate, October
Another long-awaited follow-up, this time from the Virgin Suicides author whose generation-spanning story of the hermaphrodite gene, Middlesex, won the 2003 Pulitzer. This time Jeffrey Eugenides starts his tale in the 1980s, as Madeleine Hanna writes her senior thesis on George Eliot and Jane Austen and "the age-old motivations of the human heart", and finds herself at the centre of her own love triangle. Early reviews are effusive: Publishers Weekly said it "so impressively, ambitiously breaks the mould of its predecessor that it calls for the founding of a new prize to recognize its success both as a novel – and as a Jeffrey Eugenides novel".