So after posting 26 reviews last year, I happened to post the exact same number this year, despite some quiet months without reviews. An alphabetical list of the books under review this year are below, with short commentary. I wrote about three very notable books that I didn’t get around to reviewing (but will probably review next year) here. If you feel like supporting this blog, why not click here. If you want to buy my book, why not click here? Incidentally, I have review copies of my book in pdf and (possibly) epub, if you feel like reviewing German poetry. Email me! Now, here’s the list of reviews.
Margaret Atwood et al.: Angel Catbird. Margaret Atwood is a genius novelist. Not a genius writer of comic books. Two more volumes coming early next year.
Glyn Dillon: The Nao of Brown. The less talented Dillon brother. The art is good. The overall impression is meh. His brother died this year. A genuine loss.
David Ebershoff: The Danish Girl. Terrible book. One of the top 3 worst books I read last year, overall. Dubious America-centric revisions to history that, given recent elections, seems somehow symptomatic
Brian Evenson: The Warren. Science fiction, I suppose? One of my three favorite books of the year.
Ellen Forney: Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo + Me. Writing about depression while fetishizing the psychopharma industry.
Tomer Gardi: Broken German. One of the best German novels of the year, written by an Israeli citizen in his German language debut. Hilarious, sharp, brilliant.
Claire Gibson, Sloane Leong and Marian Churchland: From Under Mountains, Vol. 1 One of my favorite comics of the year. Art and writing perfectly complement each other.
Kent Haruf: Our Souls At Night. Quiet little book. Not as good as I hoped, not as bad as I feared. Won’t be reading more of his stuff, I don’t think.
Takashi Hiraide: The Guest Cat. Excellently crafted little story/novel/novella about a cat, Japanese modernity and a marriage.
Line Hoven: Love Looks Away. I’ve read a couple of German comics this year and this is easily my favorite. Will post a review of the thoroughly mediocre Kinderland by Mawil next year. Hoven’s book is smart, poetic and the art is spectacular.
Paulette Jiles: News of the World. Award-winning piece of Americana drivel. Good for a present for your badly read relative. Solidly done, enough to dazzle some. One of the worst books I’ve reviewed (if not read) this year.
Han Kang: The Vegetarian. Genuine, absolute masterpiece. There’s an odd connection between Kang and Evenson in how they approach physicality.
Kolbeinn Karlsson: The Troll King. Swedish comic. Interesting, well made, a bit racist. Overall a recommendation.
Phil LaMarche: American Youth. Eh. So it’s MFA Americana fare with good ideas, but dull execution.
Fouad Laroui: The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers. Laroui is a profoundly interesting writer. In this I introduce you a bit to his work. Not a very popular review with editors (sigh) but in a reduced form, it’s done well on this blog this year.
Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda: Monstress. Very good comic book. Among my favorites this year. Doesn’t rise to the heights of, say, Tom King’s Vision or Lemire’s Descender, but very good nonetheless.
Valeria Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd. Overrated book. Overdetermined, too disinterested in the idea of making a story cohere.
Sharon Dodua Otoo: Synchronicity. Otoo won one of the most prestigious German awards this year and she’s one of the most interesting German writers (she’s not German).
Iain Reid: I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Overrated piece of crap. Genre fiction by the book. No surprise. Nothing interesting.
Fran Ross: Oreo. A forgotten American masterpiece. Read it. Now.
Ray Russell: The Case Against Satan. Excellent, slyly complex piece of horror fiction. Deservedly considered a classic.
Cecilia Ștefănescu: Sun Alley. Bad novel, translated badly. No point in mincing words. Shame on the publisher who did a disservice to the cause of translated literature in English. Shame.
Akimitsu Takagi: The Informer. Crime novel from Japan. Exceptionally well excecuted, but appeals strictly only to people interested in genre, I’d say.
lê thi diem thúy: The gangster we are all looking for. A novel written in shorter segments about growing up foreign in the US. This is very good.
Yuko Tsushima: Child of Fortune. A masterpiece of Japanese fiction. Truly astounding.
Yvonne Vera: Butterfly Burning. African novelist of genius, sadly deceased. Novel is very good.
Kai Ashante Wilson: The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. This has languished on the occasional fantasy discussion list, while it, and its sequel/prequel A Taste of Honey are really among the best books published this year. Tor inexplicably marketed this to fantasy fans; this should be read by all fiction fans, period. I’ve never wished more that a book had landed with a different publisher. FSG Originals, for example. They’ve been doing amazing work. I’ve read Kristin Dombek on Narcissism this year, weird fiction by Amelia Gray, and science fiction by Jeff Vandermeer, all published by FSG Originals. Well designed, well pitched. Wilson should be on many of the lists summarizing this year’s best fiction, yet he’s not. It’s hard not to feel Tor is a bit at fault for that.