Best Books of the Year lists (all ready?)
Posted November 23, 2006on:
There is still December left but Best of Year lists have started to trickle in for the Christmas shopping season. The NYTBR has its 100 Notable Books of the Year list out. This one is even more mysterious to me than last year: I have either never heard of 80% of the books before or have no interest in them. The ones I do are
The Echo Maker – Richard Powers Maybe? Good words about it have been circulating on litblogs, so I downloaded an interview of him. We’ll see.
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Adichie Are you kidding me? I am getting it. Purple Hibiscus is probably one of my overall top ten favourite books. It astonished, transformed, mesmerised, saddened, enervated…damn.
The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai Maybe? It won the Booker (yawn). More intriguing was the outrage it sparked in the inhabitants of the village portrayed in the novel: some threatened to burn it.There’s nothing like a good theoretical book burning to pique one’s interest in a novel.
The Keep – Jennifer Egan I had no interest in this novel until I read the NYTBR’s description: Old grievances drive the plot of this novel, set in a castle and a prison. Egan deftly weaves threads of sordid realism and John Fowles-like magic. Castles? Prisons? Magic? Woohoo! I am afraid to check out the jacket copy at Amazon because it sounds like the sort of book the NYTBR would have no interest in unless Murakami wrote it. Perhaps all of the magic is on one page.
There are authors whose older works I may get around to reading before I delve into their latest: Corman McCarthy, Mark Z. Danielewski, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon and (maybe) Julian Barnes. (Ouch, all men.)
The New Statesman (via Literary Saloon) has a shorter one. I prefer it because the personal recommendations gave me a better feel of the books–from the suggester’s perspective–than dry descriptions. (Not to diss NYTBR, it was all they could manage with 100 on the list and they only list books they’ve reviewed anyway.) I was more willing to amazon books with which I was unfamiliar. I skipped all the non-fiction and crappy memoirs to set my hopes on
A Short History on Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation also thought much of this book.
Snow – Orhan Pamuk I have his My Name His Red because in the Nobel Prize phone interview he suggested it was the one new readers should start with if one was more interested in his politics. (Do not quote me on this, it may have been The Black Book. But I think it was Red.) Snow was for the ones who want to read him because he got a Nobel.
I am reading him because of all the good articles that were written after his Nobel Prize win. His name was mentioned often on litblogs but nothing ever convinced me to go out and get a book.
Ingo – Helen Dunmore I have had a yen for a good YA fantasy since I finished Grandet. This one may fit the bill. The Tide Knot, the second in the trilogy, was the book actually mentioned but it doesn’t look as if it has been released in North America yet.
Carry Me Down – M J Hyland Wowza! The jacket copy for this one was even better than the recommendation.
It sounds excellent but may be one I’ll wait for in paperback. Hardcover prices here are murder. Silly me, it is out in paperback. Hooray!
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart – Lydia Millet Maybe? The litblogs and national newspapers on both sides of the border loved it. I never feel the urge to pick it up when I pass it by in the bookstore.
The Curry Mile – Zahid Hussain Sadly it seems to have no North American distribution.
“The Curry Mile” by Zahid Hussain (Suitcase Press) tells the story of a young, rebellious Muslim woman who is forced to rescue her father’s restaurant business in Manchester’s Asian area. Squabbling families with overbearing fathers, neighbourhood business feuds, charlatan mystics, music and mayhem – all human life is there.
It’s too bad because it sounds brilliant. I included it in case I ever come across the opportunity to get it.