I wanted to read as much of a particular kind of literary biography as possible – heavily researched but gripping narratives of writers who have been in their graves a while. But I found myself reading well outside the boundaries I’d set myself, gravitating also to memoirs and hybrid life-writing which mixes biography and fiction. I don’t regret these digressions; even as an advocate and practitioner of that certain kind of literary biography, my diet must be more varied. Continue reading
1. The Illumination / Kevin Brockmeier (USA, 2011)
Andrew Hagan’s novel The Illuminations received a lot of attention this year; I haven’t read it even though my Kindle believes I should, but I did read Kevin Brockmeier’s very similarly titled novel from a few years ago. It’s set tomorrow when everyone’s pain suddenly becomes illuminated, and follows a number of interweaving stories. It shows the potential for speculative fiction to explore the meaning of life and it’s a beautifully strange story. My review
2. Crow’s Breath / John Kinsella (Australia, 2015)
John Kinsella’s short, intense stories are haunted and haunting. My review
3. The Privileges / Jonathan Dee (USA, 2010)
My favourite Jonathan Franzen novel of the year was by Jonathan Dee; it manages to be smart and funny and affecting all at once in chronicling the American rich.
4. Purity / Jonathan Franzen (USA, 2015)
Jonathan Franzen’s actual new novel was not far behind – I called it an “engrossing and ambitious novel about idealism and marriage.” My review
5. The Book of Strange New Things / Michael Faber (Britain, 2014)
Perhaps this book has to make the top five because I’m still so unsure of what to make of it. A strange novel of religion, marriage and aliens. My review
I read as much non-fiction (mainly life writing) as fiction this year, and I’ll be posting my favourites on my other blog, A Biographer in Perth. What was your favourite work of fiction this year?