The Top Twelve List of the Best Fiction I Have Read in 2017

 

This year, there were so many fictions clamoring to be on my Best of Year list, that I seriously considered expanding it to a Top 20 list.  However reason ultimately prevailed, so here is my Top 12 list of the best fiction that I have read in 2017.

Click on either the picture or the title and author to read my original review for each book.

 

‘Golden Hill’ by Francis Spufford – Here is a delightful lively and upbeat historical novel about colonial New York City that kept me smiling throughout.  The guiding light for ‘Golden Hill’ is none other than William Shakespeare.

 

 

 

 

‘Miss Jane’ by Brad Watson – ‘Miss Jane’ is a novel that was written in 2016 which never did get the acclaim it deserved.  It is the life story of a girl who was dealt a bad hand of cards when she was born.  The story is told by the doctor who delivered her.  It is a story of quiet moving heroism and is a strong work of empathy.

 

 

 

 

‘Here is Berlin’ by Cristina Garcia – The city of Berlin suffered through a perhaps well-deserved widespread devastation at the end of World War II after its residents blindly followed an evil leader. ‘Here in Berlin’ is a collection of short fictional vignettes of Berliners remembering their pasts.

 

 

 

 

‘Solar Bones’ by Michael McCormick – This is an amazing one-sentence Irish novel that definitely fulfills the Goldsmiths Prize requirement, “Fiction at its most novel”.  It won that Goldsmiths Prize.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Knots’ by Gunnhild Øyehaug – Here are 26 very short stories by a Norwegian writer which are unique comic risqué takes on the relations between men and women. The stories in ‘Knots’ are stunningly original.

 

 

 

 

‘Sudden Death’ by Alvaro Enrigue – ‘Sudden Death’ is an incredibly rich entertaining whirlwind trip through the 16th century presented within the framework of a tennis match in 1599 between Italian artist Caravaggio and Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. Along the way, we have stops for English Queen Anne Boleyn and Spanish explorer Cortés and the church officials during the Counter Reformation as well as other excursions.

 

 

 

’The Dinner Party’ by Joshua Ferris – These are modern stories.  It is good to see a talented writer tackle what it means to be alive today in the United States.  These often raucous stories contain some quite awful men.  In other words, the stories are realistic.

 

 

 

 

‘News of the World’ by Paulette Jiles – Here is a Western with a simple understated charm.  The story is told in a stately dignified manner like those great old classic Western movies of the 1940s and 1950s like   ‘Red River’, ‘High Noon’, ‘Stagecoach’, and ‘The Searchers’.

 

 

 

 

 

‘So Much Blue’ by Percival Everett – Here is a stylish ingratiating and good-natured novel with an odd mix of plot lines.  The main character is an artist who keeps his magnum opus of a giant painting hidden from his family and friends in an outbuilding near his house.

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Refugees’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen – Viet Thanh Nguyen is rapidly developing as one of the United States’ best writers, and these poignant stories of Vietnam refugees to the United States further enhance Nguyen’s reputation after his wonderful novel ‘The Sympathizer’ which made the upper reaches of my last year’s Best list.

 

 

 

 

‘Dunbar’ by Edward St. Aubyn – This is St Aubyn’s humorous yet honest modern take on Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ as a media company owner.   “They stole my empire and now they send me stinking lilies.”

 

 

 

 

 

‘Based on a True Story’ by Delphine de Vigan – Here is an exceptional novel that deals with the Reality vs Fiction question.  The main character in ‘Based on a True Story’ is Delphine de Vigan herself who is trying to write her next novel, but the mysterious woman L. invades her territory.

 

 

 

 

 

And I didn’t even get to mention ‘Beautiful Animals’…

 

 

Advertisements

18 responses to this post.

  1. Yikes, I’ve only read one of these (Solar Bones) – and here’s the interesting thing. I know that I’ve bought three, or (maybe four) books this year because I read about them here, and (although I couldn’t tell you their titles now) yet they haven’t made this Best Of 2017 list.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Lisa,
      Yes, there were several books I gave an A rating that did not make the list. I don’t attribute it to grade inflation; instead I attribute it to me using great care in selecting the fiction that I choose to read. For example I gave ‘Go, Went, Gone’ by Jenny Erpenbeck an A rating, It was certainly a well done novel, but I didn’t think it was that enjoyable a reading experience.

      Like

      Reply

  2. I’m going to have a tough time picking this year, I think. I have Dunbar yet to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Guy,
      Edward St. Aubyn is one writer of today I would want to read their back catalog of novels. For me, he is a fairly recent discovery. Dunbar is a very enjoyable humorous read.

      Like

      Reply

  3. An interesting list. Like others, I always find it hard to choose, and I’m leaving *any* list making till closer to the end of the year as I’ve just finished one of my books of the year and am well into a second…!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi kaggsy,
      I realize that the fact my Best of Year list runs from Dec 10, 2016 to Dec 10, 2017 is rather senseless, but here are my reasons for it. When the calendar turns to January, people turn to the new year. Whatever I did in 2017 is ancient history at that time. December is the month for looking back at the year. If I put out the list closer to the end of December of 2017, it would probably get lost in the holidays celebrations.
      Incidentally the novel I just completed and will be posting about next week could well make my 2018 Best list. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  4. I always enjoy your lists. As usual I’ve discovered a few titles that I’d like to read as well now.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Great list, and I actually HAVE read one of them, News of the World, which I very much enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. I want to read Golden Hill!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Good list. I plan to read the Dunbar (as a result of your review actually), and have Solar Bones in line for the new year. I bought the Enrigue recently and am really looking forward to it.

    I’ll refresh myself on the Spufford review, which I don’t really remember, and on the Garcia which I think I entirely missed first time round. Might look at Knots and News of the World too.

    If you could overlap with me more next year, or maybe read worse books, that would be kind. I can’t afford to pick up three to five new titles with every end of year list…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Max,
      That is the kind of reading year it was for me that a great novel like Dunbar winds up so far down the list.
      I do read bad fiction occasionally. Here is my Bottom 6 Worst of Year list:

      ‘Who is Rich’ by Matthew Klam (Worst of Year)
      ‘Heather, the Totality’ by Mathew Weiner
      ‘Ties’ by Donenico Starnone (Elena Ferrante’s husband)
      ‘The Book of Joan’ by Lidia Yuknavitch (This made several Best lists)
      ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders (This made many Best lists)
      ‘Daisy Miller’ by Henry James

      Also keep in mind that I started about twenty books that I didn’t finish and thus did not review which all would surely make my Bottom list.

      Like

      Reply

  8. Hm, I can see now why I hadn’t remembered News of the World. I got the impression from your review that it was kind of YAish and a bit simple, so I didn’t really expect it to show up on your end of year list. Did it grow in memory or did you simply like it more than I realised?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: