2011 was a good year for book lovers. Whether your tastes run in adventures, drama, memoirs, biographies, or satire, you could find some new publication to satisfy your craving. Here are ten of the best books published last year, just waiting to be added to your collection:
1. The Tiger’s Wife
The Tiger’s Wife is Tea Obreht‘s first novel, but you will not get that feeling as you read this intriguing story about a young Balkan woman’s relationship with her grandfather and how she inflects the folk stories he told her onto her understanding of the world. The shift in narratives, the lyrical language, and the compelling tale make The Tiger’s Wife a story that will stay with you for a long time.
The English translation of this much awaited novel by Haraki Murakami was finally published in the US in October, 2011. A surreal narrative about an alternate 1984 in Japan, this book has a haunting and disturbing story, and complicated characters. A must read for anyone who is interested in contemporary Japanese subculture.
3. One Day I Will write About This Place
This book by Binyavanga Wainaina is a memoir of his growing up in Kenya, his university years in South Africa, and his mother’s childhood in Uganda. It portrays perfectly the sense of alienation, and distortion of history and the segmentation of African society, without resorting to whining about colonial woes. With a touch of the comic and the contradictory, One Day I Will Write About This Place is the story of the coming of age of a writer in Africa.
4. Hemingway’s Boat
This biography by Paul Hendrickson is about the compelling, yet enigmatic writer, Ernest Hemingway. Painstakingly detailed, well researched, and with an insight most biographical writing lack, Hemingway’s Boat takes the reader a little bit further in understanding the Nobel Laureate writer’s life, times, and mind. If you love Hemingway, or if you just love well written biographies, this book is something you must add to your shelf.
5. There But For The
Ali Smith‘s novel about a guest at a wild party who locks himself up in a bedroom and refuses to leave for months is a delightful satire on the ways of contemporary culture. In There But For The, Smith uses a fresh and innovative narrative style to comment of the issues of privacy, detachment, and the loneliness that is inside all of us. Deliciously playful as well as provokingly serious, this book is a pleasure to read.
6. Catherine The Great
Robert K. Massie‘s masterful biography of the notorious Russian empress is not his first, but the lady in question is far more complex than his earlier subjects, Nicholas II and Peter I. Massie approaches Catherine’s story with an intelligence that sparkles through the erudite text, and with a human compassion that lets the reader relate to the larger than life figure.
The 52nd book from Stephen King‘s armoire does not disappoint to thrill, but King fans, please note that 11/22/63 is a very different book from what he has written till now, which is mainly the horror genre. This is the story of a man who discovers a portal that can take him into the past, and decides to use it to prevent Kennedy’s murder in 1963. He is successful at this, but returns to the present only to find the world changed to a hellish nuclear pile. Can he go back to fix his historic mistake? Find out in this edge of the seat science fiction.
8. The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach‘s debut novel is an all American tale of ambition, insecurities, and baseball. Set in a fictional American college, The Art of Fielding is a story of friendship, coming of age, and living your dream. Sensitive, even melancholy in some places, this is a gripping story that will tug at your heartstrings.
9. The Marriage Plot
Jeffrey Eugenides, in this remarkably nuanced novel, takes us on a journey of memories and discovery. This story is about three characters, Madeline, Leonard, and Mitchell, in their post adolescent year, and the disturbing love triangle that inevitably springs up between them. Eugenides’ characters are easy to relate to, and will take you back to those days when your life ahead was just taking form. A beautiful narration, this book is a must have for lovers of romance and drama.
10. The Devil All The Time
This novel by Donald Ray Pollock will shake you up to your core with its naked violence and horror. The prose is sickeningly beautiful, and if that sounds like an oxymoron to you, you should read this book. In spite of the sleepless nights it promises, The Devil All The Time is a difficult book to put down.