Saturday, November 26, 2005


IT’S been an astounding year for literary fiction. Yes, it’s that time of year again. And the established names in British fiction were out in full force: Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie. Also there were a couple of excellent débuts by Daniel Alarcón, Diana Evans, Peter Hobbs and Jim Lynch. Here then are my picks for the 30 best books of the year.

Arthur & George (Jonathan Cape) / Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way (Faber & Faber) / Sebastian Barry
Never Let Me Go (Faber & Faber) / Kazuo Ishiguro
Beyond Black (Harper Perennial) / Hilary Mantel
Saturday (Jonathan Cape) / Ian McEwan
The People’s Act of Love (Canongate) / James Meek
Dancing in the Dark (Secker & Warburg) / Caryl Phillips
Rules for Old Men Waiting (Chatto & Windus) / Peter Pouncey
Shalimar the Clown (Jonathan Cape) / Salman Rushdie
The Accidental (Hamish Hamilton) / Ali Smith
On Beauty (Hamish Hamilton) / Zadie Smith
The Angel of Forgetfulness (Viking) / Steve Stern
Divided Kingdom (Bloomsbury) / Rupert Thomson

Here is Where We Meet (Bloomsbury) / John Berger
Ghost Town (Bloomsbury) / Patrick McGrath

War by Candlelight (HarperCollins) / Daniel Alarcón
The Harmony Silk Factory (HarperCollins) / Tash Aw
26a (Chatto & Windus) / Diana Evans
The Short Day Dying (Faber & Faber) / Peter Hobbs
The Ha-Ha (Little, Brown) / Dave King
The Highest Tide (Bloomsbury) / Jim Lynch

Where Shall I Wander: New Poems (Ecco) / John Ashbery
Legion (Faber & Faber) / David Harsent
Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press) / W.S. Merwin

Quicksands: A Memoir (Hamish Hamilton) / Sybille Bedford
Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev (Shoemaker & Hoard) / Robert Dessaix
The Year of Magical Thinking (Fourth Estate) / Joan Didion
Findings (Sort of Books) / Kathleen Jamie
Memoir (Faber & Faber) / John McGahern
Istanbul: Memories of a City (published in the U.S. as Istanbul: Memories and the City) (Faber & Faber) / Orhan Pamuk (trans. from the Turkish by Maureen Freely)
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel (Alfred A. Knopf) / Jane Smiley
Two Lives (Time Warner) / Vikram Seth


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