Suroor Alikhan

Here’s my selection of the best of the books I read this year. Links are to reviews on this site.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton—one of the most enjoyable books I read this year. Set in New Zealand in the 1860s with multiple narrators, the narrative keeps looping in on itself. A man arrives in a coastal town and walks into a room where 12 men are meeting. One by one, they tell him their stories. Nothing is quite as it seems…

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin—a powerful, intense read. An ageing Mary looks back at Jesus’s last years with a fierce love and anger.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James—slavery and the slave rebellion in Jamaica, told from the point of view of a slave girl. Haunting and brutal. The fact that it is written in Patois makes it more real.

Night Vision by Kendal Hippolyte—a St. Lucian poet—wonderful use of language. He writes about contemporary St. Lucia, about language, using forms from sonnets and villanelles to rap and the blues.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt—very well written (she seems to know a lot about addictions!), this is a story about a boy haunted by the loss of his mother during a bomb blast at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the painting of a goldfinch he (sort of) stole from the museum.

Americanah by Ngozi Chimananda Adichie—a book about race and identity and so much more. A Nigerian woman emigrates to the US and then returns to Nigeria. It’s about the immigrant experience and about coping with coming back to a place that you’ve been away for a long time. Adichie’s best so far.

The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa—narrated by a gecko living in the house of an albino in Luanda, Angola. The albino makes a living by giving people new lives. A book about identities and trying to escape the past. Original, beautifully written (and translated).

Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities by Keith Houston—the history of writing through the development of specific characters, some of which have been around for a long time. Some of them have changed their meanings over time.

Please share your lists on this site as a new post. I’m sure we’d all love to know what you’ve been reading!