1. Murakami I now have finished it, don’t think it adds up to anything but it is consistently fun for 900+ pages. How many other books can claim that?
2. Steve Sem-Samberg, The Emperor of Lies, A Novel. “I don’t want to read any more about the Holocaust” is not good enough reason to neglect this stunning Swedish novel. A fictionalized account of the Lodz Ghetto, it looks at the lives of the ghetto rulers and whether they were heroes or collaborators. I found it tough to read more than one hundred pages of this at a time; by focusing on the suicides rather than the murder victims, it is especially brutal. Get up the gumption.
3. Audur Ava Olafsdottir, The Greenhouse. From Iceland, it’s funny and sheer fun to read and short and easy yet deep and moving.
4. Habibi, by Craig Thompson. I don’t enjoy many graphic novels, but this is my favorite of all those I have read.
Away from fiction proper we have:
5. The Anatomy of Influence, Harold Bloom. In part this is a lifetime achievement award, but his best passages are still stunning.
6. Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003, by Roberto Bolano. Will make you want to read a lot more Latin American fiction.
Soon I’ll cover the best economics books of the year.