Looking back on a year of books five novels immediately popped into my head: The Children Act by Ian McEwan, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson and finally Lila by Marilynne Robinson.
Both McEwan en Faber prove that they belong to the top of English literature (it is a shame that Faber being Dutch prevents him from being nominated for major awards). Their novels are well-written and intelligently structured. Their authors never waver and give us well-balanced beautiful novels. I am certain that many people will not agree on The Buried Giant. Ishiguro probably drifted too far away with his mythical novel about dragons and knights. I applaud him for granting Sir Gawain the chivalrous death this loyal knight had coming to him for a long time. Jeanette Winterson with her retelling of Shakespeare’s A Winter Tale proved that a meagre story becomes dynamic in the hands of a great author. The personal touch made The Gap of Time even more special. Marilynne Robinson surprised me completely. I had no high hopes for Lila due to its predecessor’s surplus of religion. The elegant tale of a young woman’s harsh upbringing blew me away. I am still in shock that the novel did not make it to the Man Booker short list, as far as I am concerned Lila should have won.
Celeste Ng also surprised me with her lovely Everything I Never Told You, I was intrigued by Naomi Wood and her four mrs Hemingway and laughed my head of while reading Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. Lalinne Paull had me dancing through the pages with her Bees and I cried for the two doomed young men in Phillip Meyers’ American Rust. Kate Atkinson proved once more that she can captivate an audience with A God in Ruins and Max Porter finally wrote the most astonishing and beautiful novel on mourning. Grief is a Thing with Feathers convinced totally.
Apart from the novels I loved there were also some that stood out for the opposite reason. Though I can see the talent in both Hanya Yanagihara and Marlon James, their A Litte Life and A Short History of Seven Murders can be summarized in four words: too much of everything. Too much grief, too much pain and too much violence. One thing probably became clear in 2015: novels with an overload of violence do not fare well in BooksandLiliane. I just do not like them.
I end 2015 reading a novel that if it keeps up will end up high in the list of novels I’ll enjoy in 2016: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. I’ll not manage the remaining 700 pages today. I hope everybody has enjoyed reading about books in my blog, I hope that I have inspired people to read the novels I enjoyed. I wish everyone a great 2016. That it may bring many good books.