100 Notable Books of the Year
Greg Clarke in the New York Times overnight.
This list will run in the Dec. 2 print edition of the Book Review.
THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER. By Tom Perrotta. (St. Martin’s, $24.95.) In this new novel by the author of “Little Children,” a sex-ed teacher faces off against a church bent on ridding her town of “moral decay.”
AFTER DARK. By Haruki Murakami. Translated by Jay Rubin. (Knopf, $22.95.) A tale of two sisters, one awake all night, one asleep for months.
THE BAD GIRL. By Mario Vargas Llosa. Translated by Edith Grossman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) This suspenseful novel transforms “Madame Bovary” into a vibrant exploration of the urban mores of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
BEARING THE BODY. By Ehud Havazelet. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) In this daring first novel, a man travels to California after his brother is killed in what may have been a drug transaction.
THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAT HEAVEN BEARS. By Dinaw Mengestu. (Riverhead, $22.95.) A first novel about an Ethiopian exile in Washington, D.C., evokes loss, hope, memory and the solace of friendship.
BRIDGE OF SIGHS. By Richard Russo. (Knopf, $26.95.) In his first novel since “Empire Falls,” Russo writes of a small town in New York riven by class differences and racial hatred.
THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO. By Junot Díaz. (Riverhead, $24.95.) A nerdy Dominican-American yearns to write and fall in love.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. By André Aciman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) Aciman’s novel of love, desire, time and memory describes a passionate affair between two young men in Italy.
CHEATING AT CANASTA. By William Trevor. (Viking, $24.95.) Trevor’s dark, worldly short stories linger in the mind long after they’re finished.
THE COLLECTED POEMS, 1956-1998. By Zbigniew Herbert. Translated by Alissa Valles. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $34.95.) Herbert’s poetry echoes the quiet insubordination of his public life.
DANCING TO “ALMENDRA.” By Mayra Montero. Translated by Edith Grossman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) Fact and fiction rub together in this rhythmic story of a reporter on the trail of the Mafia, set mainly in 1950s Cuba.
EXIT GHOST. By Philip Roth. (Houghton Mifflin, $26.) In his latest novel Roth brings back Nathan Zuckerman, a protagonist whom we have known since his potent youth and who now must face his inevitable decline.
FALLING MAN. By Don DeLillo. (Scribner, $26.) Through the story of a lawyer and his estranged wife, DeLillo resurrects the world as it was on 9/11, in all its mortal dread, high anxiety and mass confusion.
FELLOW TRAVELERS. By Thomas Mallon. (Pantheon, $25.) In Mallon’s seventh novel, a State Department official navigates the anti-gay purges of the McCarthy era.
A FREE LIFE. By Ha Jin. (Pantheon, $26.) The Chinese-born author spins a tale of bravery and nobility in an American system built on risk and mutual exploitation. (Review will be available Friday evening, Nov. 23.)
THE GATHERING. By Anne Enright. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14.) An Irishwoman searches for clues to what set her brother on the path to suicide.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. By J. K. Rowling. (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $34.99.) Rowling ties up all the loose ends in this conclusion to her grand wizarding saga.
HOUSE LIGHTS. By Leah Hager Cohen. (Norton, $24.95.) The heroine of Cohen’s third novel abandons her tarnished parents for the seductions of her grand-mother’s life in theater.
HOUSE OF MEETINGS. By Martin Amis. (Knopf, $23.) A Russian World War II veteran posthumously acquaints his stepdaughter with his grim past of rape and violence.
IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN. By Hisham Matar. (Dial, $22.) The boy narrator of this novel, set in Libya in 1979, learns about the convoluted roots of betrayal in a totalitarian society.
THE INDIAN CLERK. By David Leavitt. (Bloomsbury, $24.95.) Leavitt explores the intricate relationship between the Cambridge mathematician G. H. Hardy and a poor, self-taught genius from Madras, stranded in England during World War I.
KNOTS. By Nuruddin Farah. (Riverhead, $25.95.) After 20 years, a Somali woman returns home to Mogadishu from Canada, intent on reclaiming a family house from a warlord.
LATER, AT THE BAR: A Novel in Stories. By Rebecca Barry. (Simon & Schuster, $22.) The small-town regulars at Lucy’s Tavern carry their loneliness in “rough and beautiful” ways.
LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME. By Vendela Veda. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $23.95.) A young woman searches for the truth about her parentage amid the snow and ice of Lapland in this bleakly comic yet sad tale of a child’s futile struggle to be loved.
LIKE YOU’D UNDERSTAND, ANYWAY: Stories. By Jim Shepard. (Knopf, $23.) Shepard’s surprising tales feature such diverse characters as a Parisian executioner, a woman in space and two Nazi scientists searching for the yeti.
MAN GONE DOWN. By Michael Thomas. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14.) This first novel explores the fragmented personal histories behind four desperate days in a black writer’s life.
MATRIMONY. By Joshua Henkin. (Pantheon, $23.95.) Henkin follows a couple from college to their mid-30s, through crises of love and mortality.
THE MAYTREES. By Annie Dillard. (HarperCollins, $24.95.) A married couple find their way back to each other under unusual circumstances.
THE MINISTRY OF SPECIAL CASES. By Nathan Englander. (Knopf, $25.) A Jewish family is caught up in Argentina’s “Dirty War.”
MOTHERS AND SONS: Stories. By Colm Toibin. (Scribner, $24.) In this collection by the author of “The Master,” families are not so much reassuring and warm as they are settings for secrets, suspicion and missed connections.
NEXT LIFE. By Rae Armantrout. (Wesleyan University, $22.95.) Poetry that conveys the invention, the wit and the force of mind that contests all assumptions.
ON CHESIL BEACH. By Ian McEwan. (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $22.) Consisting largely of a single sex scene played out on a couple’s wedding night, this seeming novel of manners is as much a horror story as any McEwan has written.
OUT STEALING HORSES. By Per Petterson. Translated by Anne Born. (Graywolf Press, $22.) In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.
THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST. By Mohsin Hamid. (Harcourt, $22.) Hamid’s chilling second novel is narrated by a Pakistani who tells his life story to an unnamed American after the attacks of 9/11.
REMAINDER. By Tom McCarthy. (Vintage, paper, $13.95.) In this debut, a Londoner emerges from a coma and seeks to reassure himself of the genuineness of his existence.
THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES. By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.
SELECTED POEMS. By Derek Walcott. Edited by Edward Baugh. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) The Nobel Prize winner Walcott, who was born on St. Lucia, is a long-serving poet of exile, caught between two races and two worlds.
THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ. By Dalia Sofer. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $24.95.) In this powerful first novel, the father of a prosperous Jewish family in Tehran is arrested shortly after the Iranian revolution.
SHORTCOMINGS. By Adrian Tomine. (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95.) The Asian-American characters in this meticulously observed comic-book novella explicitly address the way in which they handle being in a minority.
SUNSTROKE: And Other Stories. By Tessa Hadley. (Picador, paper, $13.) These resonant tales encapsulate moments of hope and humiliation in a kind of shorthand of different lives lived.
THEN WE CAME TO THE END. By Joshua Ferris. (Little, Brown, $23.99.) Layoff notices fly in Ferris’s acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.
THROW LIKE A GIRL: Stories. By Jean Thompson. (Simon & Schuster, paper, $13.) The women here are smart and strong but drawn to losers.
TIME AND MATERIALS: Poems, 1997-2005. By Robert Hass. (Ecco/Harper-Collins, $22.95.) What Hass, a former poet laureate, has lost in Californian ease he has gained in stern self-restraint.
TREE OF SMOKE. By Denis Johnson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) The author of “Jesus’ Son” offers a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.
TWENTY GRAND: And Other Tales of Love and Money. By Rebecca Curtis. (Harper Perennial, paper, $13.95.) In this debut collection, a crisp, blunt tone propels stories both surreal and realistic.
VARIETIES OF DISTURBANCE: Stories. By Lydia Davis. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, paper, $13.) Dispensing with straight narrative, Davis microscopically examines language and thought.
THE VIEW FROM CASTLE ROCK: Stories. By Alice Munro. (Knopf, $25.95.) This collection offers unusually explicit reflections of Munro’s life.
WHAT IS THE WHAT. The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel. By Dave Eggers. (McSweeney’s, $26.) The horrors, injustices and follies in this novel are based on the experiences of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
WINTERTON BLUE. By Trezza Azzopardi. (Grove, $24.) An unhappy young woman meets an even unhappier drifter.
THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION. By Michael Chabon. (HarperCollins, $26.95.) Cops, thugs, schemers, rabbis, chess fanatics and obsessives of every stripe populate this screwball, hard-boiled murder mystery set in an imagined Jewish settlement in Alaska.