So the end of year lists are out…I like perusing the lists to see the range of books called “best,” and to find titles I had not read about yet this year.
Flavorwire has a list devoted to best debut novels, and it includes more experimental, off the beaten path, books. Two I noted, and have been recommended to me by friends, are:
In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, by Matt Bell. A mystical, slightly experimental, novel about a couple who move to a house on a lake where they hope to raise a family, but things do not unfold as planned. The book has been noted for its moving prose and memorable language.
Elect H. Mouse State Judge, by Nelly Reifler. With mice as the main characters this book is meant to be genre-bending noir, where two girls are kidnapped and rescued by doll private detectives. At a mere 112 pages it is described as a quick and kooky read.
Over at The Daily Beast, Adelle Waldman’s, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. gets acknowledged as best debut of the year. This book explores the psyche of a modern urban male, living in New York, who has to make a choice between a handful of women he is dating. It can be found on quite a few “best of” lists.
The Wall Street Journal’s “Best Fiction of 2013” list features six debuts out of its ten picks! They featured some books that have been widely written about like, The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, and Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi, but Bogotá, by Alan Grostephan, a novel about family who migrates into the slums of Bogota, and Wash, by Margaret Wrinkle, a novel about slave breeding, are less well-known picks.
And in the memoir category, Jesmyn Ward’s, Men We Reaped, got mention on New York Magazine’s “10 Best” list. This book tells the story of five African-American men, including the author’s brother, who died in the early naughts in the Mississippi town Ward is from.
I hope you all find something to read over the new year, whether you’re picking up a new author or returning to one you love.