“This is a moving, authentic, humane novel,” says the Guardian, “which raises fundamental questions about what it means to be kind in an unkind world.”. The Telegraph describes the novel as “a corrosive, compulsive debut”. Buy Now: Homeland Elegies on Bookshop | Amazon. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday. It is a clear-headed diagnosis. “Makumbi balances heartbreak with humour,” says The Telegraph. Czech writer Milan Kundera once said, “The novel is the imaginary paradise of individuals.” The 11 stories that comprise Laura van den Berg’s beautiful and bold collection feature a cast of contemplative women navigating situations that are strange, sad and unsettling. Bennett weaves a layered and satisfying narrative that shifts through time and multiple characters’ perspectives to trace the impact of a single decision on Stella, her family and the next generation. “This may be his debut,” says The New York Times Book Review, “but he proves himself an old hand at dissecting the ways in which places — our connections to them, our disconnections from them — break us and remake us.” (Credit: Canongate), A series of episodic vignettes, the widely acclaimed novel Weather is narrated by librarian Lizzie, who speaks with frankness about her daily preoccupations and ordinary anxieties. And if there's a year where we especially needed that and then some, it was 2020. Mandel’s award-winning dystopian novel Station Eleven was widely acclaimed, and her latest offering has been similarly well received. Love, race and the mores of the mid-West are central themes in a book described by The Guardian as “radiant and visionary”. Motherwell is, says Andrew O’Hagan in the Guardian, “a masterpiece of self-exploration”, and its “greatness lies mainly in the psychological dimension, in the vivid portrait of her parents’ narcissism and the just-as-vivid portrait of her own”. Best Book Club Books: End of 2019 The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Her Henry, meanwhile, is an apt reminder that self-pitying men with oversized egos enjoyed power long before the present. Sittenfeld answers this question with Rodham, a novel that weaves an imagined tale into real historical events. ex: The Turn of the Screw & The Aspern Papers was one entry and The Turn of the Screw was another. Guardian critics pick 2020’s best fiction, poetry, politics, science and more All illustrations by Mike Lemanski Sat 28 Nov 2020 04.00 EST Last modified on Tue 22 Dec 2020 12.34 EST The New York Times describes the novel as “lyrical” and “remarkable”, and Hirut as an “indelible and compelling hero”. It is, “an urgent, lucid, courageous account,” says David Mitchell in the Guardian. Reading fiction in 2020 was an act of defiance—of turning our attention away from the catastrophes playing out around us to engage in a quiet, imaginative act. Note I have removed novellas that were repeats, but in different formats. “Learned, well-written… a bracing wake-up call,” says the New York Times Book Review. From established storytelling maestros to exciting new voices, and from compelling crime thrillers to scintillating science fiction - not to mention the little matter of the conclusion of a certain Tudor-era trilogy - there are many, many reasons to get excited about publishing in 2020. Nia Forrester Young, Rich & Black. She specialises in awkward encounters and surprise shifts in power,” says the New Statesman. Why on earth would he do such a thing? Every so often we are gifted a novel that combines deep intelligence, meticulous prose and something profound to say about the state of our world. The Mirror and the Light charts his downfall, and as The Atlantic points out, “Cromwell’s charisma is never allowed to dissipate”. Matsuda updates traditional Japanese ghost stories for the contemporary era, giving agency to previously voiceless female characters and playfully breaking down gender roles and stereotypes still so pervasive in Japanese culture today. “Weather achieves a rare triumph… it’s an uncannily realistic portrait of what it’s like to be alive right now,” says the Telegraph. While dissecting white feminism, this book also focusses on productive solutions and a hopeful approach. Whether in the tumultuous halls of power in Tudor England with The Mirror & the Light, a storm-ravaged mansion in A Children’s Bible or a ghost-filled Japan with Where the Wild Ladies Are, readers could find joyful, thrilling distraction, models of resilience and empathy and challenges that somehow made our own feel more bearable. In Homeland Elegies, Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar gives readers just that in the story of a man very much like himself, who shares his name and was born to Pakistani immigrants in the American Midwest as Akhtar was. Buy Now: Shuggie Bain on Bookshop | Amazon. Bachelor’s unique role is serving as a “milkman,” an administrator who handles pensions and upkeep on retired spies. In the process she tells her own, rather different, version of events, revealing the secrets of her past. After witnessing a terrorist attack, Jivan, a poor Muslim woman living in the slums of Kolkata, makes a comment on Facebook criticizing her government’s response to the tragic event. Against the backdrop of a city neglected by the government and in decline, Shuggie and Agnes wrestle for control over their lives, often finding themselves swept away by the waves of her addiction. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. The New York Times describes it as a “haunting, arresting” read. Where the Wild Ladies Are by Matsuda Aoko. Piranesi is, according to inews, “The most curious confection… blending elements of mythology and fantasy, with nods along the way to CS Lewis and Tolkien… [it has a] genuinely moving climax that throws open the doors of the halls in more ways than one.” Its author Susanna Clarke is known for her 2004 debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an award-winning alternative history. A story about crisis, survival and the search for meaning in our lives, The Glass Hotel explores two intersecting but seemingly separate events – the collapse of a huge Ponzi scheme, and the strange disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea. In the hotly-anticipated sequel to Ready Player One, Wade Watts makes a major discovery. The much-anticipated finale of Mantel’s trilogy about King Henry VIII’s right-hand-man Thomas Cromwell has been well received. The new book by former President Obama tells of the journey from his earliest political aspirations to his presidency, and is an “elegant, thoughtful memoir”, according to the Independent. A ship takes 2,000 refugees from the Spanish Civil War to Chile in 1939. That understated and witty touch is what makes this short story collection, translated to English by Polly Barton, so special. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. Andrew O’Hagan’s latest novel is inspired by real events, and the friendship between two men, Jimmy and Tully. Few novels were as eagerly anticipated this year as The Mirror … Jemison, Brit Bennett, R. Eric Thomas, Alex Trebek, Stephen King, and David Mitchell. These stories will get you through the holidays and the last nine decades of 2020. Pulitzer-winning Marilynne Robinson has written a fourth novel in her acclaimed Gilead series. By signing up you are agreeing to our. Greenwell’s second novel Cleanness follows his acclaimed debut What Belongs to You. The characters are depicted in a contemporary, yet also mystical, version of Hawaii. She begins the novel working as a servant, and gradually transforms herself into a proud warrior. It’s a delicate balancing act between what’s real and what may not be, yet in Akhtar’s brilliant book the complexities of the American Dream have never been so naked. The author of the best-selling We Are Never Meeting in Real Life draws unflinchingly on her own life. It follows Tambudzai’s progress, as she faces setback after setback and as she finally reaches breaking point. “Brandon Taylor emerges as a powerhouse with this artful debut,” says Newsweek. Kiley Reid’s debut novel Such A Fun Age first crossed my desk in … Dystopian novel The New Wilderness has been shortlisted for the Booker. As the TLS puts it: “Well-known for his powers of social observation, Lanchester alternates in this collection between the real, hyperreal and surreal.” It is “a mind-bending collection about the multifaceted scariness of the way we live now”. “By journey’s end, you’re enriched and enlightened by the lives you have witnessed.”. The debut novel by Douglas Stuart draws on his own childhood in 1980s Glasgow, and is the winner of the 2020 Booker prize. “Cline is particularly good at locking in the witty detail that speaks volumes,” says The Times. Ijeoma Oluo’s 2018 book So You Want to Talk About Race was an acclaimed resource for readers looking to understand – and unpick – society’s racist structures. Set during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, The Shadow King tells the story of the recently orphaned Hirut. Yet this debut novel is written with a light touch, and makes for a witty, if uncomfortable, social satire. The best romance novel protagonists make you feel empowered and better about yourself and … Debut Novel Want to Read saving ... Best Books 2020: Winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards NBC News 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards Winners Announced Book Riot Winners of 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards: Barack Obama, Margaret Atwood, Ina Garten USA Today. His funniest and most incisive work is now brought together in one volume. On a vacation like no other, a group of families share a lakeside summer home, where the parents care little about what their children are up to. “Li has crafted an epic story of a life full of regret, but also of hope and perseverance and the importance of passing down our legacies,” according to Vulture. The Catch, a novella set within that same Slough House world, is a worthy addition, focusing on the story of one John Bachelor, plying his trade on the very margins of the intelligence community. All Rights Reserved. For the past couple of decades, David Sedaris has more or less created his own genre, with his confessional stories that reveal both the absurdity and the emotion of everyday life. “You won’t find a romance darker than Susie Yang’s White Ivy,” says the LA Times of this “wonderful” novel. “Hong is writing in agonised pursuit of a liberation that doesn’t look white – a new sound, a new affect, a new consciousness – and the result feels like what she was waiting for.”, A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. The Guardian hails the book as a “masterpiece” and as “a novel of epic proportions [that is] every bit as thrilling, propulsive, darkly comic and stupendously intelligent as its predecessors...The trilogy is complete and it is magnificent”. 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