STORIES & NOVELS

STORIES & NOVELS

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Gorgeously imaginative

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

“It’s almost impossible to compare Mitchell to any other living author. Of his contemporaries, perhaps only Michael Chabon and Salman Rushdie are as consistently good at creating cerebral, non-obvious adventure novels; you’d have to go back to Nabokov, Tolstoy, or Dickens to find a novelist quite so flawlessly inventive.”

npr.org ›
Levels of Life

Clarity and Connection

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

“Julian Barnes has disregarded the conventional boundaries between literary genres for as long as he’s been publishing books. So it should come as no surprise that “Levels of Life,” a putative grief memoir about the loss of his wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, is part history, part meditative essay and part fictionalized biography. The pieces combine to form a fascinating discourse on love and sorrow.”

nytimes.com ›
The Master & Margarita

Strange and stranger

The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

“It had everything; Satan and a wise-cracking cat, Jesus as a wise simpleton, doomed love, hints of sex, blasphemy.”

independent.co.uk ›
A Gate At The Stairs

Masterful storytelling

A Gate At The Stairs by Lorrie Moore

“The first paragraph of Lorrie Moore’s new novel imagines songbirds caught by a killing frost, heaps of them piling up in a cornfield and others dropping from the sky. That ghoulish image and an allusion to Sept. 11 just a few paragraphs later cast a funereal shadow over this coming-of-age story, but Moore is such a bright, witty writer that it’s easy to ignore those warnings.”

washingtonpost.com ›
A Visit From The Goon Squad

Rock 'n' roll

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

“Time is the goon in this sparkling novel of change and decay that ranges from the late 70s to the near future. Ageing, loss and compromise are explored in all their universal predictability and piercing individuality: we’re all getting a visit from the goon squad.”

theguardian.com ›
More Book Reviews ›

Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

The Sympathizer

Immigrant's Tale

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

“Much of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer, takes place in the bland stucco flatlands of Los Angeles between the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the staging and aftermath of a failed counterrevolution by members of the displaced anti-communist Vietnamese diaspora several years later.”

latimes.com ›
A Visit From The Goon Squad

Rock 'n' roll

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

“Time is the goon in this sparkling novel of change and decay that ranges from the late 70s to the near future. Ageing, loss and compromise are explored in all their universal predictability and piercing individuality: we’re all getting a visit from the goon squad.”

theguardian.com ›
All The Light We Cannot See

Blindness in Wartime

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“I’m not sure I will read a better novel this year than Anthony ­Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Enthrallingly told, beautifully written and so emotionally plangent that some passages bring tears, it is completely unsentimental — no mean trick when you consider that Doerr’s two protagonists are children who have been engulfed in the horror of World War II.”

washingtonpost.com ›
The Goldfinch

Mother, Bomb, Bird

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

“It is dangerous to write openings as compelling as Donna Tartt’s. In The Secret History, the one-page prologue gives us a murder and a narrator who has helped to commit it.”

theguardian.com ›
The Orphan Master's Son

North Korea Unveiled

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

“A great novel can take implausible fact and turn it into entirely believable fiction. That’s the genius of The Orphan Master’s Son. Adam Johnson has taken the papier-mache creation that is North Korea and turned it into a real and riveting place that readers will find unforgettable.”

washingtonpost.com ›

National Book Award

Adam Johnson

Not for the faint of heart

Adam Johnson by Fortune Smiles

“The six stories in Adam Johnson’s new collection, “Fortune Smiles,” will worm into your mind and ruin your balance for a few days. From ravaged American cities to abandoned torture chambers, these pieces take place in an uncanny world you recognize but don’t.”

washingtonpost.com ›
Redeployment

War Stories

Redeployment by Phil Klay

“In “Redeployment,” Phil Klay, a former Marine who served in Iraq, grapples with a different war but aims for a similar effect: showing us the myriad human manifestations that result from the collision of young, heavily armed Americans with a fractured and deeply foreign country that very few of them even remotely understand.”

nytimes.com ›
The Good Lord Bird

It ends at Harper's Ferry

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

The Good Lord Bird is hardly the first literary rendering of John Brown; everyone from Herman Melville to Langston Hughes, from Russell Banks to the rock band Rancid, has written of the man who tired of talk and demanded action, undertaking a violent crusade against slavery the way Ahab went after his white whale.”

nytimes.com ›
The Round House

Crimes and jurisdictions

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

“The crime, its investigation and its consequences are the insidious, tenacious seedlings working their way into Joe’s life; the foundation, the solid concrete of his world, is the reservation.”

theguardian.com ›
Salvage The Bones

Eye of the storm

Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward

“On one level, “Salvage the Bones” is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico.”

washingtonpost.com ›

National Book Critics Circle Award

The Sellout

Scorching Satire

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout is a comic masterpiece, but it’s much more than just that — it’s one of the smartest and most honest reflections on race and identity in America in a very long time, written by an author who truly understands what it means to talk about the history of the country.”

npr.org ›
Lila

Rural Explorations

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

“In the end, “Lila” is not so much a novel as a meditation on morality and psychology, compelling in its frankness about its truly shocking subject: the damage to the human personality done by poverty, neglect and abandonment.”

nytimes.com ›
Americanah

Immigrant Experiences

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s fourth book, Americanah, is so smart about so many subjects that to call it a novel about being black in the 21st century doesn’t even begin to convey its luxurious heft and scope.”

npr.org ›
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

War Satire

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

“A bracing, fearless and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public, Fountain’s novel gives us one Denisovichian day in the life of Billy Lynn, a 19-year-old soldier who’s on a “Victory Tour” of America during the time of the Iraq war.”

sfgate.com ›
Binocular Vision

Masterful stories

Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman

“Why in the world had I never heard of Edith Pearlman? And why, if you hadn’t, hadn’t you? It certainly isn’t the fault of her writing, which is intelligent, perceptive, funny and quite beautiful, as demonstrated in Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories.”

nytimes.com ›
More Award-winning Books ›

Staff Picks

Stoner

Quiet Perfection

Stoner by John Williams

“The hushed dysfunction of Stoner’s marriage, the furtive joys of an affair, the struggles of his fragile, wayward child – rarely has the intimate detail of a life been drawn with such emotional clarity.”

theguardian.com ›
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Gorgeously imaginative

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

“It’s almost impossible to compare Mitchell to any other living author. Of his contemporaries, perhaps only Michael Chabon and Salman Rushdie are as consistently good at creating cerebral, non-obvious adventure novels; you’d have to go back to Nabokov, Tolstoy, or Dickens to find a novelist quite so flawlessly inventive.”

npr.org ›
The Master & Margarita

Strange and stranger

The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

“It had everything; Satan and a wise-cracking cat, Jesus as a wise simpleton, doomed love, hints of sex, blasphemy.”

independent.co.uk ›
Levels of Life

Clarity and Connection

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

“Julian Barnes has disregarded the conventional boundaries between literary genres for as long as he’s been publishing books. So it should come as no surprise that “Levels of Life,” a putative grief memoir about the loss of his wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, is part history, part meditative essay and part fictionalized biography. The pieces combine to form a fascinating discourse on love and sorrow.”

nytimes.com ›
A Gate At The Stairs

Masterful storytelling

A Gate At The Stairs by Lorrie Moore

“The first paragraph of Lorrie Moore’s new novel imagines songbirds caught by a killing frost, heaps of them piling up in a cornfield and others dropping from the sky. That ghoulish image and an allusion to Sept. 11 just a few paragraphs later cast a funereal shadow over this coming-of-age story, but Moore is such a bright, witty writer that it’s easy to ignore those warnings.”

washingtonpost.com ›
All Staff Picks ›