Best Books of 2016 so far. I read a lot of historical fiction and memoir so not surprisingly that’s mostly what makes my list. These are listed more or less in the order read.
The Other Woman by Therese Bohman [Other Press]
–from my review: This novel bursts with intellectual prowess. It’s witty, provocative and thoughtful about money, class, what it is to have less and desire more, to be educated and smart but not particularly suited to anything. Swedish author Therese Bohman examines societal expectations of what makes a complete life: a good job; a happy coupling; a nice place. All the things by which we define ourselves but realize the innate superficiality of it all.
Alligator Candy: a memoir by David Kushner [Simon & Schuster]
—Through compelling prose and devastating emotion this memoir potently addresses murder and its effect on the family. review.
Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro [Harper]
–Author Kathleen Tessaro adeptly describes both the immigrant North End and wealthy mansions with vivid detail. Superb writing and research merge to tell this wonderful story. Rare Objects is a page-turner about class, friendship and the things and people we value most. full review.
Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone [Harper]
–Set in post-Civil War Philadelphia, this historical novel beautifully explores race, class, gender and family. complete review.
The Vegetarian by Kang Han [Hogarth]
—The Man Booker International Prize 2016 Winner . It’s dark and suspenseful. Entirely original and engrossing. I’ve been a vegan for nearly 10 years and am not too thin. I stopped eating red meat at 12 and everything but fish at 18. So the being deprived and malnourished because she’s not eating meat is bothering me a tad.
Modern Girls by Jennifer Brown
Clear your schedule and make a big pitcher of iced tea. Once you start this wonderful, detailed novel you’ll want to read straight through. review.
We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge
—We Love You, Charlie Freeman stands out as a thoughtful and provocative novel which effectively and creatively winds together numerous subjects from coming-of-age, first love, adolescence, sisterhood, race, anthropology, history and family dynamics. complete review.
Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh [Ecco]
—At turns fascinating, sad, infuriating, provocative and authentic, Heat & Light pulls in the reader from the jump. This well-researched, impressive novel exposes many angles of fracking. In order to capture this present day dilemma, Haigh effectively dips into the past with the Three Mile Island disaster as well as coaling. The novel generously addresses an important hot-button topic with sharp prose and a stellar cast of characters as well as an intriguing story-line. complete review.
An Abbreviated Life: a memoir by Ariel Leve [Harper]
–stunning memoir about an adult daughter coming to terms with her childhood and relationship [or lack of] with her mother..
The Sun in Your Eyes by Deborah Shapiro [William Morrow]
–from my review: Shapiro delves into the women’s college friendship and its connection to the present. She offers insight, detail and vivid descriptions that allow the reader to understand each woman, their bond and reliance upon one another. Women’s bonds often become broken due to relationships with men (or marriage and families). To this many women (and likely men) will relate. Vivian’s relationship and later marriage to Andy created a rift between the friends. The road trip allows the women to examine their friendship and determine whether or not they should rekindle their friendship, however tumultuous it may have been at times. Jealousy and differing goals certainly pushed and pulled at its core.