Below is a list of the ten best works of fiction (or near-fiction) that I read in 2016. No re-reads were included, which is probably why the twentieth century is over-represented. Three of the works (the first three listed below) purport to be straight non-fiction, but include fictional elements. They are listed below in alphabetical order by last name of the author:
- Alexievich, Svetlana. Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War. Powerful stuff. Her concept of literature as interviews works really well because she’s great at getting people to open up.
- Babitz, Eve. Eve’s Hollywood. Mostly autobiographical essay by the “It Girl” of the 1960s, with some fictional interpolations.
- Barnes, Julian. Levels of Life. What it really means to lose someone you love.
- Cohen, Albert. Belle de Seigneur. A thousand-page novel about illicit love in early 20th century France.
- Flanagan, Richard. The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Probably a more realistic re-telling of the whole Bridge on the River Kwai story by a great Australian writer.
- Modiano, Patrick. In the Café of Lost Youth. I am liking this French novelist more and more all the time.
- Saer, Juan José. The Clouds. A tale of madness in Argentina in the 1800s.
- Simenon, George. The Clockmaker. One of the mystery writer’s romans dur, about a father and his delinquent son.
- Stevenson, Robert Louis and Lloyd Osbourne. The Ebb-Tide. Recommended by Jorge Luis Borges in one of his interviews, one of RLS’s best.
- Wells, H G. Tono Bungay. A classical 19th century Victorian novel, decidedly not sci-fi.
The funny thing about this list is its variety. Is it because I’ve read most of the classical fiction repertoire already?
In 2017, I’m continuing my long-range project of reading most of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s work along with Joseph Frank’s five volume biography. And, of course, I’m still casting my nets wide to find the best of world literature.