The Best Fiction of 2009



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.








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 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.