Yes, the season of the Christmas books round-ups is here. Where the line between nepotism and genuine appreciation becomes slightly more blurred as some of our favourite authors pick their books of the year…
Publisher loyalty and the old pals’ act aside, there are some interesting selections, and this week we though we’d bring you some bestselling authors’ picks of 2012. From Robert Macfarlane and Hilary Mantel to Philip Pullman and Edna O’Brien, you can read what they have to say about their choices below.
Patrick Leigh-Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper
“…an outstanding account of an extraordinary life; tender and evocative, without ever hardening into hagiography”.
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
“…remarkable for for its intensity of both feeling and expression…every line is a defiant assertion of the power of beauty to revivify…
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
“As a Western journalist writing about a Mumbai slum, Katherine Boo had many obstacles to overcome. A triumph.”
Canada by Richard Ford
“Despite the material (a bank robbery and two murders) it’s the least sensational of novels, gently paced and even in tone…the co-existence of ordinariness and evil is part of the point.”
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
“despite never having watched more than 30 seconds of baseball, thoroughly enjoyed Chad Harbach’s funny, moving The Art of Fielding.”
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
“The Dog Stars might be described as an airborne version of The Road crossed with a post-apocalyptic romance. Engages deep emotions to spine-chilling effect”
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
“In sumptuous language, Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis depicts the hallucinogenic sensibilities of those trapped in the opium rooms of Mumbai, and by extension, the city itself, with its assortment of broken and stranded people.”
Dear Lupin: Letters to A Wayward Son by Roger Mortimer
“The funniest book of the year for me was Dear Lupin: Letters to a Wayward Son, a collection of brilliantly written letters from a world-weary father to his feckless son. They could offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t laugh.
The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
“contains one of the creepiest ghost stories I’ve ever read. Quite apart from that, it’s a beautifully written, moving, thrilling account of a number of walks Macfarlane took along ancient tracks and pathways…It reminded me of how strange and rich the world is.”
Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway
“The novel that impressed, mesmerised and bamboozled me the most this past year…begins as a police procedural and spins outwards, never quite coming back to explain the mystery. A novel or a loosely connected series of short stories? I don’t care. It’s great”
San Miguel by TC Boyle
“…an involving historical read and yet another illustration of this author’s astonishing range. There seems to be no subject or genre that Boyle won’t tackle with brio.”
Walking Home by Simon Armitage
“an account in prose of how he took on the Pennine Way, held my interst to the end…Armitage makes a really good read out his comfortless adventure.
Canada by Richard Ford
“…written with a quiet, hypnotic brilliance that almost that almost had me weeping with envy. At its heart are the Parsons, a dysfunctional 1950s American family. Thank god for dysfunctional families…”
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
“…reeling from a Brit-crit smacking: I want to tell readers that there is more dynamism, risk-taking and crazed energy in Wolfe’s writing than in all the Brit novels I’ve read this year…”
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
“Faulks is always trying something new in his novels, and you never quite know what to expect, even when you think you are in familiar territory”
NW by Zadie Smith
“Best English novel of the year? Zadie Smith’s angry, committed, richly humane NW. “
Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
“For Christmas, I will give to writers: Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, a moving autobiography of a man who risked his life for his craft.”
HHhH by Laurent Binet
“…a brilliant hybrid, half-history, half-novel, which retells the story of Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination in 1942…a gripping thriller and an unsettling meditation on the intermingling of fact and invention in historical writing”.