December 5, 2012
2012 was yet another banner year for fiction. These are the 11 novels I have most recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who has crossed my path this year.
All links go to the authors' contributions to the Book Notes series. I have reposted my original review below each book.
What was your favorite novel of 2012?
With her second novel Arcadia, Lauren Groff firmly entrenches herself as one of America's finest writers. Vividly told and ambitious in scale, this is one of the best novels I have read in a very long time.
Victor LaValle's The Devil in Silver brilliantly melds literary horror with social conscience in one of the year's most striking novels.
In her novel The Forrests, Emily Perkins vividly shares the life of a New Zealand woman from birth to death, a masterful and intricate depiction of an ordinary life.
Tupelo Hassman's Girlchild is one of the most impressive debut novels I have read in years. The young protagonist's honesty, intelligence, and resilient nature illuminate her dark surroundings. Hassman's non-traditional narrative, which includes social worker reports about the girl's mother, works exceptionally well to frame this young woman's formative years and environment.
Hari Kunzru's Gods Without Men may be the year's most ambitious and fully realized novel. Spanning almost 200 years, Kunzru skillfully weaves several narratives into a book that both challenges and rewards the reader.
Karolina Waclawiak's debut novel How to Get into the Twin Palms is a quietly stunning exploration of assimilation and personal identity.
Anakana Schofield's Malarky is a brilliant debut novel that depicts one woman's descent into madness with dark humor and an intimate eye for grief and sorrow.
Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis is a brilliant debut novel, one that vividly captures Bombay's drug culture from the 1960s to the present day.
Shani Boianjiu's debut novel The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is a mesmerizing exploration of the effects of war on young women. This coming of age story of three young Israeli army soldiers is one of the year's most important books.
Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for a Novel of Social Change has introduced me to several talented writers over the years, notably Gayle Brandeis, Hillary Jordan, and Heidi Durrow. Naomi Benaron is a worthy addition to that fine group.
Benaron's debut novel Running the Rift is a gripping coming of age story set in Rwanda before, during, and after the country's genocide. This tragic yet beautifully written and powerful book offers vivid insight into the country through the life of a young Tutsi boy who dreams of running in the Olympics, only to have his dreams deferred by civil war.
Carol Rifka Brunt's Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a brilliant and thoughtful debut novel that thoughtfully explores love in all its forms.
also at Largehearted Boy:
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2011
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2010
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2009
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2008
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2007
previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks book reviews
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