The Best Fiction of 2009

 

Lowboy

John Wray

 

This tale of a schizophrenic youth going mad in the New York subway system is a gem of empathy and ventriloquism. Lowboy would have been a gimmicky shock treatment in the hands of a lesser talent, but Wray delivers a tightly wound, linguistically audacious thiller about the fragility of consciousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sag Harbor

By Colson Whitehead

 

In a sea of trauma-fetishizing memoirs, Sag Harbor stands out, beacon-like, as a pleasant, dreamy, and frequently comical Bildungsroman about that most unlikely character: the privileged African-American nerd who lives to tell about it. This “Autobiographical Fourth Novel” is a welcome reminder than childhood can be bizarre without being brutal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nocturnes

By Kazuo Ishiguro

 

In five discomfiting new stories “of music and nightfall,” Ishiguro contemplates a theme on many minds in a time of economic uncertainty: the nature of genuine success. Using spare, taut language and stripped-down plots, he dazzles readers with how much a master can do with the bare necessities of storytelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Anthologist

Nicholson Baker

 

Baker, the controversial author of Vox and Human Smoke, returns with a gentle, richly (and hilariously) observed story of poetry and failure. Paul Chowder, a hapless poet and anthologist, finds salvation by the simplest means: keeping his eyes peeled and his words at the ready. Baker inspires as he entertains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of Frank O'Connor

Frank O'Connor

 

The year’s most rewarding fiction release is Julian Barnes’s anthology of work by Frank O’Connor, the Irish short story writer, translator, and critic. Classic tales like “First Confession” and “Guests of the Nation” are collected at last with stunning selections from O’Connor’s memoirs and literary criticism. Not to be missed.

 

 

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.