Sunday, December 02, 2007

This Year's Best Fiction

In case you need any help choosing books for Christmas presents or for your own reading pleasure in the coming months, here are links to best of 2007 lists on both sides of the Atlantic, and I've skimmed off some of the best of fiction titles.

The New York Times has whittled down its 100 notable books of the year to just 10. The five top novels are:

Michael Thomas - Man Gone Down
This first novel explores the fragmented personal histories behind four desperate days in a black writer’s life.
Per Petterson - Out Stealing Horses
In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.
(You may remember that this won the IMPAC prize earlier this year, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award in 2006.)

Robert Bolaño - The Savage Detectives
A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.
(Wow! What on earth is a literary guerrilla? Do they throw books as if they were hand-grenades? Where can I sign up?)

Joshua Ferris - Then We Came to the End
Layoff notices fly in Ferris’s acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.
(A finalist for the National Book Award the other week, of course.)

Denis Johnson - Tree of Smoke
... a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.
(Winner of aforementioned National Book Award for Fiction.)

In the UK, the Independent lets its critics decide which of the year's books are the most important and enjoyable, and Boyd Tonkin puts together a very useful fiction list.

The Telegraph features lists of recommended reads. Booker judge Ruth Scurr chooses the fiction, including some of the Booker shortlisted titles and those she thought should have made it, as well as other reads she enjoyed during the year.

Times reviewer Peter Kemp reveals the reads that had him hooked this year.

But things are done much more scientifically on the Guardian blog where Joh Freeman reports on the National Book Critics Circle's attempt to boil down more than 800 year-end recommendations into one consensual chart.

Let's cut to the chase. These are titles that turn up on more than one list:

Ian McEwans - On Chesil Beach
Irène Némirovsky - Fire in the Blood
Anne Enright - The Gathering
Michael Ondaatje - Divisadero
AL Kennedy - Day
Marina Lewycka - Two Caravans
Nikita Lalwani - Gifted
Per Petterson - Out Stealing Horses
Michael Chabon - The Yiddish Policeman's Union
Philip Roth's - Exit Ghost
Nicola Barker - Darkmans

and thus might just do you as a starting point!

I will post up any more links to "best of 2007" lists as I (or you?) find them.


kamal s said...

Just bought TREE OF SMOKE today and vow to finish it in a week. Then I can try to pass my review around.

Anonymous said...

RobertO Bolaño IS love.

But you probably won't like him, Sharon...:(

And I would recommend Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, a collection of his short stories rather than that one...


bibliobibuli said...

kamal - great. look forward to that.

irman - intrigued why you think i won't like him!

The Great Swifty said...

Oh yeah, I just bought the Yiddish Policeman's Union yesterday, will read it sometime. Maybe after I finish up 'The Sun Also Rises'.

kamal s said...


Jesus' Son is great, but that book is so 90s.

Am in my 4th chapter now........

I also would like to urge you (urge is such a strong word, huh?) to read Lydia Davis' VARIETIES OF DISTURBANCES. Short stories taken to a newer, higher level.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks Kamal, am glad for the reccomendation

bibliobibuli said...

recommendation .... hmmm my spelling has dozed off

Tony S. said...

After reading some good reviews of Roberto bolano's "The Savage Detectives", I tried to read this book. I found it irritatingly repetitive, the exploits of these young literary lions - I quit after 241 pages, don't feel I missed anything.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks Tony. but you know now i am intrigued to at least take a look at this book.