I thought it was a stellar year for fiction, even though most of the widely anticipated books by famous authors disappointed me. These were my favorites, more or less in the order I read them, not in order of preference:
Michel Houellebecq, Soumission/Submission. The correct reading is always a level deeper than the one you are currently at.
Larry Kramer, The American People. Epic, reviewed a lot but then oddly overlooked in a crowded year.
The Seventh Day, by Yu Hua. Perhaps my favorite of all the contemporary Chinese novels I have read: “Lacking the money for a burial plot, he must roam the afterworld aimlessly, without rest.”
Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz, New World, “An innovative story of love, decapitation, cryogenics, and memory by two of our most creative literary minds.”
Vendela Vida, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. Fun without being trivial.
The Widower, by Mohamed Latiff Mohamed. My favorite novel from Singapore.
The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud. I’ll teach it this coming year in Law and Literature.
Nnedi Okorafor, Binti. Okorafor is American but born to two Nigerian parents, this science fiction novella is creative and fun to read. Ursula K. Le Guin likes her too.
Of those, Houllebecq and Ferrante are the must-reads, the others are all strong entries, with New World being perhaps the indulgence pick but indulgences are good, right?
And here are three other new books/editions/translations which I haven’t had any chance to spend time with, but come as self-recommending:
Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu, translated by Dennis Washburn.
Homer’s Iliad, translated by Peter Green. Also gets rave reviews.