2. Margaux Fragoso, Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir. This book raises questions about the meaning of consent, but despite its quality I was unable to get all the way though it. Too brutal for me.
3. The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht. The author may be 25, Serbian, beautiful, and feted everywhere, but still I found it contrived and overwritten. The substance-obsessed Laura Miller nails it. Against my better judgment I enjoyed and finished Kevin Brockmeier’s The Illumination.
4. David Gilmour, The Pursuit of Italy: a History of a Land, its Regions, and their Peoples. So far released only in the UK, in this excellent book Gilmour claims that for a while, in the 19th century, Garibaldi was the most famous person in the world.
5. Pramoedya Ananta Toer, The Mute’s Soliloquy. The first third is a superb humane and philosophical response to adversity, namely imprisonment on Buru Island. Of the rest, which is never sent letters to his family, at least half is very good.
6. Vaclav Smil, Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact. Perhaps the best book on what its subtitle indicates.