This book is electrifying. Convicts on death row fight to the death gladiator style for mass entertainment. Adjei-Brenyah uses footnotes to describe real-life injustices in our mass incarceration system, which brings the narrative uncomfortably close to home, but he never loses sight of his characters or plot in his effort to maintain his allegory. It's a novel of great emotional depth and full of redemption. An important book, and it has rocketed to the top of my all-time favorites list.
Somehow, with language (and translation work) that will make you want to read every sentence aloud, Han Kang brings together two characters who barely exchange a word, yet are so believably and magnetically brought together. Absolutely stunning.
This book is like a massive punch in the gut. Catton collects characters from different socio-economic backgrounds and we watch as their worlds collide. It's a very readable book, uncomfortable in its honesty, funny and compelling. A total slam dunk.
The most literary KPop fanfiction you'll ever read. This book is hilarious, weird, and dreamlike. A mediation on celebrity and fandom and our desire to separate ourselves from the masses. For fans of Murakami. Fans of surrealism.
I would not have chosen to read a pandemic novel, except this one is written by Claire Fuller and she's one of my favorite authors. It's brilliant. Terrifying. And as always with Claire Fuller, a book full of fully realized, flawed, and beautiful characters. I read it in a day.
Short stories seem to give insight into an author's style and themes even more than a full novel, and this collection cements Ling Ma as an absolute hands-down, brilliant writer. Funny, engaging, weird, and powerful - I couldn't get enough.
These were brilliant, linked short stories about a Jamaican family living in Miami. It's a book about identity and family. It follows Trelawny - the youngest son of the family - as he struggles to find his way in the world. One of the most memorable chapters for me was about his time working in a retirement home. His hilarious attempts to outsmart a bureaucratic system in order to provide real assistance to the residence was a stunning example of character development. Escoffery is a fantastic writer. I'm so excited to see what he comes out with next.
A fast-paced, character-driven novel with a compulsive plot and writing that will have you stopping to read aloud to whoever happens to be nearby. This book is absolutely stunning.
A piano teacher finds solace in the home of a former piano prodigy who long ago disappeared from the world. An Yu's fiction is strange and otherwordly and ventures into the world of the disturbed mind in such creative and unusual ways. Very like Murakami, but without the sexism.
If you're already a Jane Harper fanatic like I am, you'll be happy to be reunited with many of the characters in Harper's latest mystery. Aaron Falk is back, investigating a cold case involving a missing mother. As always, Harper's characters drive the plot forward making this nearly impossible to put down.
What struck me most about Lucy's novel is how much empathy she gives to her characters as they attempt to understand their surroundings and each other. The plot is meticulously woven together and the setting and history jumped off the page. I genuinely loved this book!
Author of the National Book Award-nominated "A Children's Bible" is back with a beautiful, slice-of-life novel set in Arizona. I love this book for its subtlety and quiet brilliance. It's engaging and compelling but without any of the stress that conflict in novels usually provides.
Set in a rural town in France in the 1950's, about poverty and privilege and the fickle nature of truth. This book is beautifully written, strange and fascinating.
This book floored me. It's written with a dreamlike quality and touches so intimately on the universality of human experience - love and loss. It's somehow so incredibly hopeful. It's the book we all need right now.
Slice-of-life novel, written in 1980, about an unmarried woman raising a baby in Tokyo. Quiet and atmospheric and suprisingly angsty at times. It's the perfect book to bring back for our current time.
It is rare to come across a sequel that is so good it makes its predecessor better, but that is exactly what this book does. The Dark Star Trilogy is not a linear trilogy, but the same story told from a different character's perspective and James deftly manipulates the subtle shifts in the narrative, while crafting a stunning, heartbreaking backstory for Sogolon. It's difficult to put into words just how much I love and admire these books.
One of my favorite books in the last decade. This book is like nothing I've read before. Set in an Africa-like fantasy world, Tracker is called on to find a missing child. Unforgettable characters and richly imagined worlds and customs move this book into a category of its own. I loved it and can't wait for the next installment!
Lauren Groff's latest is an absolute masterpiece. Slice of life historical fiction, every sentence carefully crafted. The book follows the life of Marie in 1158 as she enters an abbey in crisis and transforms it into a thriving community.
Atmospheric and unsettling, this book was a bit of a throwback to "Never Let Me Go" by Ishiguro and I hope it gets just as much attention. I was obsessed with everything about it and could not put it down. One of my favorite reads of the year so far. This one deserves to be on all the award lists!
Set in Moscow in the late 1990's, the story follows 11-year-old Mitya as he navigates loss, a difficult family life, and his own gender identity. Mitya is such a loveable character and has taken his place among my favorite literary characters of all time. This book has so much heart and hope. Loved every second of it.
The follow-up to Batuman's 2017 novel, "The Idiot" - we meet Selin again, now in her sophomore year at Harvard. It's a year of discovery and experimentation. "Either/Or" brings the same humor, self-awareness, and philosophical musings that made "The Idiot" one of my all-time favorite novels. It was everything I was hoping for and more!
Loosely based on The Brothers Karamazov and utterly brilliant from beginning to end. Fantastic characters, riveting plot - but what grabbed me most was the creative way she rewove a classic into a modern immigrant story that is just as timeless as its source.
An absolutely intense wild ride. Set in an alternate version of New Orleans and full of music and haints and sky trolleys and magic. It's unlike anything I've ever read. A solid debut!
An incredibly powerful and timely book set in a small North Dakotan town that's in the middle of an oil boom. Yun turns this small town into a condensed version of America. It felt like a modern gold rush novel. Totally brilliant.
A hilarious and witty tale of love and loss. Completely surprising and unexpectedly poignant around every turn. I wanted to underline every other sentence and befriend the main character. There is nothing that I didn't love about this book. It was an absolute delight.
This book is like chocolate - it's so rich in language and character, the world is so colorful and the story one to be savored. It's hilarious and heartbreaking and unforgettable. I absolutely loved it.
Our two main characters, Swiv and her grandmother are an absolute riot, and unforgettable. There were so many moments in this that had me laughing out loud and the ending is an absolute punch in the gut. LOVED this book.
A bit philosophical with ideas revolving around identity and language, but mostly this novel is light and hilarious; a ton of fun and a little bit weird. I'm very fond of this book.
Set in the arctic between the world wars - this historical fiction book is outstanding! I did not expect to love a book about a man living in isolation in the arctic as much as I did. It is a reflection on the importance and endurance of human relationships.
I loved this book so much. Though it's about the ending of a relationship, it is ultimately hopeful and uplifting. Beautifully written, with some extremely loveable, but flawed characters.
Less of a thriller and more of a character study, this book was absolutely brilliant. Both the setting and the characters are so richly imagined. I came away feeling like I had personally taken part in their story. My favorite read of the year so far.
I have so much respect for this book and this author. It's a book that everyone should read. A blend of history, memoir, essay, and poetry. It is such an important book.
A fast-paced, steampunk, police procedural - so basically, everything you could ask for from a good fantasy novel. Descriptive and visual with a memorable cast of badass characters, this is a solid fantasy. Loved it.
An absolutely gorgeous family drama set in Hawaii. A really solid debut - I am looking forward to reading more from Kawai Strong Washburn in the future!
This book subverts expectations at every turn. I read it in one sitting! There is so much to unpack in such a short book. Nominated for the National Book Award for translated fiction.
This book is so smart and witty and a total delight to read. Full of surprising and hilarious moments and our main character, Young, navigates life and love in the big city of Seoul.