Friday, November 7, 2008

25 Best Fiction Titles, 2008

A PW list
Don't get disappointed if you don't see your favourite title here. The list covers only the American publishing in 2008. Of course, these titles were reviewed by PW. For sure, there are still some titles outside of this list, probably from small or independent presses that can match or beat the selection. Do you know of any such title?

When Will There Be Good News?Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown)
Unrelated characters and plot lines collide with momentous results in Atkinson's third novel to feature ex-cop turned PI Jackson Brodie.
Roberto Bolaño, trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Bolaño's sprawling masterpiece revolves around a passel of academics, a reclusive German writer and a fictionalized Juarez, Mexico. Pure brilliance.
Hold Tight
Harlan Coben (Dutton)
Edgar-winner Coben's unnerving thriller follows a sadistic suburban killer in a New Jersey community with his usual mastery.
The Brass Verdict
Michael Connelly
(Little, Brown)
This beautifully executed crime thriller brings together two popular Connelly characters, LAPD Det. Harry Bosch and L.A. lawyer Mickey Haller.
Master of the Delta
Thomas H. Cook (Harcourt)
Edgar-winner Cook examines the slow collapse of a prominent Southern family in this magnificent tale of suspense set in 1954.
The Konkans
Tony D'Souza (Harcourt)
This story of an Indian-American family's immigrant experience in Chicago is loaded with humor and pathos. Young in writer-years, D'Souza writes with a seasoned hand.
The Plague of Doves
Louise Erdrich (Harper)
Erdrich's 13th novel, a multigenerational tour de force of sin, redemption, murder and vengeance, finds its roots in the 1911 slaughter of a farming family near Pluto, N. Dak.
The Likeness
Tana French (Viking)
Fans of psychological suspense will embrace Irish author French, who blurs the boundaries between victim and cop, memory and fantasy, in this stunning sequel to her debut, In the Woods.
Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Diaspora, myth and a fascinating language mash-up propel the Rubik's cube of plots in Ghosh's picaresque epic. The cast is marvelous and the plot majestically serpentine, but the real hero is the English language, which has rarely felt so alive and vibrant.
Mo Hayder (Atlantic Monthly)
Readers looking for visceral thrills need look no further than this British crime novel involving African witchcraft.
The Lazarus Project
Aleksandar Hemon (Riverhead)
Dueling story lines about Central European immigrants dovetail into a masterful account of the immigrant experience and the quest for identity in MacArthur genius Hemon's second novel, an NBA finalist.
A.L. Kennedy (Knopf)
Kennedy's highly stylized and immeasurably sad sixth novel (after Paradise) follows former Royal Air Force tail gunner Alfred Day as he relives his experiences in a WWII German prison camp.
My Revolutions
Hari Kunzru (Dutton)
A reformed London radical's past returns to haunt him in Kunzru's divine novel.
Unaccustomed Earth
Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf)
The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children—and that separates the children from India—remains Lahiri's subject for this faultless follow-up to The Namesake.
Zachary Lazar
(Little, Brown)
Lazar channels the Rolling Stones, Kenneth Anger and a Manson family associate in this piercing examination of the dread and exhilaration of the late 1960s.
The Boat
Nam Le (Knopf)
The stories in Le's stunning debut collection cover a vast geographic territory and are filled with exquisitely painful and raw moments of revelation, captured in an economical style as deft as it is sure.
The Given Day
Dennis Lehane (Morrow)
In a splendid flowering of the talent previously demonstrated in his crime fiction (Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River), Lehane combines 20th-century American history, a gripping story of a family torn by pride and the strictures of the Catholic Church, and the plot of a multifaceted thriller.
Flesh House
Stuart MacBride (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Scottish author MacBride's dry wit turns what could have been a gratuitously gory slasher story into a crackling thriller.
How the Dead Dream
Lydia Millet (Counterpoint)
Millet is as lyrical, haunting and deliciously absurd as ever in this Heart of Darkness–style journey into massive loss.
Joseph O'Neill (Pantheon)
A Dutch-born equities analyst gets swept up by a fast-talking, crooked-dealing Bangladeshi cricket enthusiast in post-9/11 New York City in O'Neill's beautifully written and intelligent novel.
Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday)
They don't come much grittier than this debut collection set in Knockemstiff, Ohio, a grimy pocket of derelicts, perverts and criminals.
Lush Life
Richard Price (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Price trains his sharp eye and flawless ear on Manhattan's Lower East Side in this manic crescendo of a novel that explores the repercussions of a seemingly random shooting.
Ron Rash (Ecco)
This implacably grim tale of greed and corruption gone wild—and of eventual, well-deserved revenge—follows the dealings of a Depression-era lumber baron and his callous new wife.
Tim Winton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Two daredevil Australian teens get involved with a dangerous surfer (and his more dangerous wife) in this taut story of death, life, pleasure and thrill-seeking.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
David Wroblewski (Ecco)
A Wisconsin mute hides out in the woods with hyperintelligent dogs in Wroblewski's contemporary riff on Macbeth.


david kramer said...

Steve Martin's autobiography-Born Standing Up- was a surprisingly good and enjoyable read that came out this year. It was insightful as a "how-to" book on finding a voice in creative fields.

david kramer said...

Non fiction- of course

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