The Best Book for this period is Edgar & Lucy by Victor Lodato!
This period’s Best Book is The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng!
Last week I posted my last review of the shortlisted books for the 2015 Walter Scott Historical Fiction Prize. That means it’s time for this feature, where I give my opinion about whether the judges got it right.
The shortlist for 2015 is a tough one to like. There were seven books on the shortlist, but for various reasons, four of them just didn’t float my boat at all: Zone of Interest by Martin Amis, In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds, Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut, and A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie.
Of the other three nominations, Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre is the most inventive in approach and is well grounded in its historical background. Looking back at my review, I think I enjoyed it more than I remembered. The Ten Thousand Things, that year’s winner by John Spurling, is probably the book that most qualifies as literary fiction, and it certainly conveys both a historical context and a sense of time and place. It had such a detached viewpoint, however, that I was never fully engaged with it. For me, The Lie by Helen Dunmore was the most engaging, but of these three, it conveyed the least about its historical time. So, for this year’s prize, taking into consideration both how involving the book was and its reflection of its time and place, I guess I would have picked Viper Wine, with a plus for its wildly inventive approach.
This period’s Best Book is Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien!
It’s that time again, the sixth anniversary of this blog and time to post my top ten picks of the previous year. As always, this is a difficult task. Although I try to evaluate books by their genre—that is, I’m not expecting the same things from mysteries or historical fiction as I am from literary fiction—what my judgment really boils down to is which books I found most affecting or impressed me the most.
This year’s list includes two nonfiction books, three classics, one speculative fiction, and two historical fiction books. I would also count at least six of the novels as literary fiction, including Kent Haruf’s last novel. So, here are my top 10 books from the ones I reviewed this year, in the order that I reviewed them:
- The Lark by E. Nesbit
- Benediction by Kent Haruf
- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
- His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
- On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
- Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The Best Book for this period is My Darling Detective by Howard Norman!