2014 NOTABLE FICTION TITLES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
The year’s notable fiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
ALL OUR NAMES. By Dinaw Mengestu. With great sadness and much hard truth, Mengestu’s novel looks at a relationship of shared dependencies between a Midwestern social worker and a bereft African immigrant.
ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING. By Evie Wyld. An emotionally wrenching novel traces a solitary sheep farmer’s attempt to outrun her past on a remote British island.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. By Anthony Doerr. The paths of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy converge in this novel, set around the time of World War II.
AMERICAN INNOVATIONS. By Rivka Galchen. Stories offer variations on a particular sort of woman: in her 30s, urban, emotionally adrift.
THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER: Stories. By Hilary Mantel. One has the sense that Mantel is working with some complex private material in these suavely stylish, contemporary fables.
THE BALLAD OF A SMALL PLAYER. By Lawrence Osborne. In Osborne’s feverish novel, the playing is done on the gambling tables of Macau by a tortured embezzler on the run.
BARK: Stories. By Lorrie Moore. Moore’s first collection in 16 years allows each story the chance it deserves for leisurely appreciation, and lets the reader savor just what makes her work unique.
THE BLAZING WORLD. By Siri Hust¬vedt. A multifaceted portrait of a creative titan whose career and reputation have been blighted by the art establishment’s ingrained sexism.
THE BONE CLOCKS. By David Mitchell. In this latest head-¬spinning flight into other dimensions from the author of “Cloud Atlas,” all borders between pubby England and the machinations of the undead begin to blur.
THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS. By Michel Faber. A pastor from Earth is picked to satisfy an alien planet’s mysterious yen for religious instruction.
THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS. By Cristina Henríquez. Latino immigrant characters face the challenges of assimilation.
BOY, SNOW, BIRD. By Helen Oyeyemi. Taking “Snow White” as a cultural touchstone, Oyeyemi’s novel offers up a cautionary tale on post-race ideology, racial limbos and the politics of passing.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS. By Marlon James. Revolving around the assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976, this mesmerizingly powerful novel addresses politics, class, race and violence in ¬Jamaica.
CAN’T AND WON’T. By Lydia Davis. In these stories, the mundane and the fathomless appear together on the same street, and calamity is always close at hand.
THE COLD SONG. By Linn Ullmann. A guilt-ridden Norwegian family is set in motion by a nanny’s murder.
COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE. By Haruki Murakami. A novel of a man’s traumatic entrance into adulthood and the shadowy passages he must then ¬negotiate.
DEPT. OF SPECULATION. By Jenny Offill. Building its story from fragments, observations, meditations and different points of view, Offill’s cannily paced second novel charts the course of a marriage.
THE DOG. By Joseph O’Neill. In O’Neill’s disturbing, elegant novel, his first since “Netherland,” a lost and tormented New York lawyer recognizes more darkness within himself than in the iniquitous place he works, Dubai.
EUPHORIA. By Lily King. King’s novel turns an episode in the life of Margaret Mead into a taut tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.
EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU. By Celeste Ng. Tragedy tears away at a mixed-race family in 1970s Ohio.
F. By Daniel Kehlmann. Deserted by their enigmatic father, three brothers struggle with life in this sly tragicomedy.
FAMILY LIFE. By Akhil Sharma. Deeply unnerving and tender at the core, the novel charts a young man’s struggles to grow within a family shattered by tragedy and disoriented by its move from India.
FOURTH OF JULY CREEK. By Smith Henderson. An overburdened social worker becomes involved with a near-feral boy and his survivalist father in 1980 Montana.
A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING. By Eimear McBride. An Irish writer’s odd, energetic first novel.
I PITY THE POOR IMMIGRANT. By Zachary Lazar. A Brilliant novel of spiritual discovery features Meyer Lansky, an American journalist and an Israeli poet’s murder.
THE LAUGHING MONSTERS. By Denis Johnson. A cheerfully nihilistic novel about two scammers and rogue spies in Africa derives much of its situation from several of his early journalistic pieces.
LENA FINKLE’S MAGIC BARREL. Written and illustrated by Anya Ulinich. Ulinich’s graphic novel traces the marital and romantic adventures of her immigrant heroine.
LET ME BE FRANK WITH YOU: A Frank Bascombe Book. By Richard Ford. In four linked stories, Ford’s aging Everyman surveys life after Hurricane Sandy batters New ¬Jersey.
LILA. By Marilynne Robinson. A young woman with a past of hardship and suffering makes a new start in Robinson’s fictional town of Gilead, Iowa.
LOVERS AT THE CHAMELEON CLUB, PARIS 1932. By Francine Prose. Prose, a subtle psychologist, has created a genuinely evil character in Lou Villars, a cross-dressing French racecar driver and Nazi collaborator.
THE MAGICIAN’S LAND. By Lev Grossman. In the strong final installment of a trilogy, an exiled magician attempts a risky heist.
THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT. By Laila La¬lami. Estebanico, the first black explorer of America, narrates this fictional memoir.
MY STRUGGLE. Book 3: Boyhood. By Karl Ove Knausgaard. The third installment of Knausgaard’s Proustian six-volume autobiographical novel.
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH. By Richard Flanagan. A frail humanity survives the unspeakable in this novel of the Burma-¬Thailand Railway of World War II.
NORA WEBSTER. By Colm Toibin. In Toibin’s luminous, elliptical novel, set in the late 1960s and early ’70s, an Irishwoman struggles toward independence after her husband’s unexpected death.
PANIC IN A SUITCASE. By Yelena Akhtiorskaya. As a Ukrainian family adapts to life in Brooklyn, old-country memories linger.
THE PAYING GUESTS. By Sarah Waters. Hard times, forbidden love, murder and justice are the themes of this nevertheless comic novel, set in London after World War I.
REDEPLOYMENT. By Phil Klay. Twelve stories by a former Marine who served in Iraq capture on an intimate scale the ways in which the war there evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak.
REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS. By Bret Anthony Johnston. A skillful and enthralling debut novel, a family is reunited after an abducted son comes home.
A REPLACEMENT LIFE. By Boris Fishman. In Fishman’s bold and wickedly smart first novel, a Soviet émigré writer in New York becomes disturbingly adept at forging applications for Holocaust reparations.
SONG OF THE SHANK. By Jeffery Renard Allen. Allen’s masterly novel blends the personal story of the enslaved autistic piano prodigy Thomas Wiggins with the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
10:04. By Ben Lerner. A Brooklyn-based narrator preoccupied with identity decides to help his best friend have a child in this brilliant second novel.
THIRTY GIRLS. By Susan Minot. The atrocities wrought by a murderous African rebel army with candor yet without sensationalism.
THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY: Book 3, The Neapolitan Novels: “Middle Time.” By Elena Ferrante. The third novel in Ferrante’s series, which tracks a long and complicated friendship.
THE WALLCREEPER. By Nell Zink. A heady, rambunctious debut is an environmental novel, if a totally surprising and irreverent one.
WE ARE NOT OURSELVES. By Matthew Thomas. A gorgeous family epic follows three Irish-American generations.
WHEN MYSTICAL CREATURES ATTACK! By Kathleen Founds. This dark, rich little novel in stories shows Founds as a talented moralist of nearly Russian ferocity.
Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows