Depending on who creates the list and the readers targeted, the “best fiction” of 2016 varies with preferences and inclination. In comparing lists, I found a few book names appearing in the New York Times “The 10 Best Books of 2016,” the NPR “Ten Best Books of 2016,” and the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence longlist for 2017. The common denominator seems to be tackling a difficult subject, educating the reader, and provoking serious thought.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, a finalist for many literary awards this year, appeared on all three sources. I have not read it yet; have you?
With a similar theme, Homegoing by Yaa Ghasi appears only on the NPR list, but is on my list of top favorites I read this year.
The remaining choices from my three major sources include books I have yet to read – some currently in progress. Best fiction of the year named by NPR, NYT, and ALA include:
- North Water by Ian McGuire
- Swing Time by Zadie Smith
- Moonglow by Michael Chabon
- Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
- Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
- The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
- The Association of Small Bombs by Karen Majahan
- War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
My list of the top books I read this year:
- Homegoing by Yaa Ghasi. Read my review – here
- The Many by Wyl Menmuir did not appear on these lists. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year, this short novel has a place on my top fiction for the year. Read my review – here.
- What Is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. On the Washington Post Notable List of Books – “A series of loosely connected, magically tinged tales about personal and social justice. Built around the idea of keys, locks and magic doors…including mythology and fairy tales, and smartphones…” My review – here
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amore Towles- from Bloomberg: “the story of a Russian count sentenced by the Bolsheviks to house arrest in the Metropole Hotel for writing a poem deemed to be counter-revolutionary. The book explores what it means to find meaning in life when deprived of what you have valued most. The Count has been displaced—from his home, from his possessions, from the life he led—and within the confines of the hotel he adapts and, in a way, thrives. Given the political shocks of 2016, the Count’s story seems more topical than ever.” Read my review – here
Maybe I’ll find another before December ends. I could use a good book to get me through my Grinchy days ahead.
What is your nomination for the best book you read in 2016?