This is where I have pretensions of having a mid-year "Best of 2013" list

June 26, 2013 § 3 Comments

Since the time is now ripe for people to repeat themselves all over again and write up short lists of what new releases they have enjoyed through the (not quite) halfway point of the year, I thought perhaps I could do something similar but without worrying overmuch about what people think about the books I have selected (after all, one might need to have heard of some of these titles before weighing in, n’est ce pas?).  I’m not doing a Top 5, 10, or 20-style list, but instead just a note of works that I consider to be exceptional.  I’ll leave it up to the hoi polloi to classify these by genre:

1.  Sinan Antoon, The Corpse Washer – Review later, but damn if I weren’t moved by this short novel.

2.  Chimamanda Adichie, Americanah – Review later, but this will not leave you feeling indifferent.

3.  William Gass, Middle C – Still haven’t been able to organize my thoughts to write a coherent review.

4.  Karen Joy Fowler, We are all Completely Beside Ourselves – a definite must-read.

5.  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur – Much better than LotR in terms of writing achievement.

6.  José Ovejero, La invención del amor – Possible review later.  2013 Premio Alfaguara winner.

7.  Nihad Sirees, The Silence and the Roar – might take a second read for its full effect to kick in.

8.  Kate Atkinson, Life After Life – Might get around to reviewing this one day.

9.  Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni – Might review this later as well.

10.  Ron Currie, Jr., Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles – Clever yet honest.  An intriguing combination in a metanarrative.

11.  Ismail Kadare, The Fall of the Stone City – Kadare still mining gold from a rich vein of tragic history.

12.  Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being – Touching.  Already wrote a short review.

13.  Jim Gavin, Middle Man – One of the two best short story collections read this year.

14.  Jamaica Kincaid, See Now Then – Been too long since a Kincaid story.  Already reviewed.

15.  Angélica Gorodischer, Trafalgar – Interesting set of interconnected stories.  Already reviewed.

16.  Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove – Another of the top collections released this year.  Already reviewed.

17.  (At this point I should note that positions below #1 are very fluid and might change with further consideration)  George Saunders, Tenth of December:  Stories – Moving.  Already reviewed.

18.  Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Debating still whether or not this is “good” or “mediocre” Gaiman.

19.  Thomas Maltman, Little Wolves – Maybe the best werewolf novel of 2013 that I’ve finished to date?

20.  Yoko Ogawa, Revenge – Very good story collection.  Did intend to review it, but haven’t yet.

21.  Ildefonso Falcones, La reina descalza – Third historical novel of his, third that I (mostly) liked.

OK, which of these have you heard about before this post?  That’s the important question, not whether or not you liked any on this list.

§ 3 Responses to This is where I have pretensions of having a mid-year "Best of 2013" list

  • srs says:

    So, in your view, how does "good" or "mediocre" Gaiman compare to "good" or "mediocre" in general?Of the rest, I have heard of Fowler, Saunders, and Kincaid outside of your blog and a few of the others from previous your previous posts.My pretentious list for best read of '13 so far would be Morgenstern's The Night Circus, a Berke Breathed collection, and Walter the Farting Dog – none of which were actually published in '13.

  • Larry Nolen says:

    Walter the Farting Dog is high lit – I have the Latin translation! :DAs for your question regarding good/mediocre Gaiman, I think on the whole Gaiman is a better-than-average writer, but one who revisits the inspirational well too many times when it comes to certain themes and that leads to works that have depreciated in value for me because they echo too strongly other writings of his.

  • Bill says:

    Read the Russell and Saunders collections. Enjoyed both a lot; probably close to their best work that I've read.Heard of the Gass, Fowler, Atkinson, Ogawa books. None is high on my list to read, but I may change my mind. I liked Fowler's last collection ok, but thought she was a little longwinded. Had very mixed reactions to Ogawa's earlier books.(I of course know Gaiman's work, but didn't know he has a new book. I can't say it's high on my to-read list either.)Bill

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