Friday, December 23, 2011

The Best of Fiction--2011

As another year draws to a close, newspapers, magazines and literary critics create their lists of the best fiction of the year.  I always find good reading for the coming winter months in these lists and maybe you will too.  

Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Good Squad garnered both the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the Pulitizer Prize for fiction, and was on the honor list of the PEN/Faulkner Award.  Of course it made several other 'best of" lists as well, including the New York Times and Time magazine lists and the American Library Associations Notable Books list.

The library catalog's description of the book is indeed intriguing.

     Egan's spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled  young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

I haven't read this one yet, but it will definitely be on my "to read" list.

A runner up for the National Book Award, The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht was ranked #1 by the Fiction Award Winners website because of the number of  honors, "best of" and notable lists it made. 

I have to admit, I've had this title frozen in my holds queue for awhile to give me time to finish other books before I delve into it.  I'm a huge fan of Alice Hoffman, and the description of this story sounds like something Hoffman might have written.

     Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, young physician Natalia becomes convinced that he spent his last days searching for "the deathless man," a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man would go on such a farfetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger's wife.

A handy place to view all of these various "best of" and award winner lists is the Fiction Award Winners website.  It lists award winners and provides a ranking based on how many honors a book has received.  A few more of the titles that ranked high on this list include:

     The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
     1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
     The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
     The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

And here's a list of a few award winners and honored books for the year 2011.
National Book Award Winner winner and finalists
     Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
     The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak
     The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Man Booker Prize finalists
     The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
     Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
     The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

New York Times Best Fiction Books of the Year
     Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
     11/26/63: A Novel by Stephen King
     Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

These books and more are available at the library---in fact the library is just brimmng with wonderful fiction---and what's better on a cold winter night than to curl up with a good book and hot cup of tea?

Happy Reading!
Dawn @ Warrenton

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