Best of Fiction List 2010
9 January 2011
A nice mention from a public library’s Best of Fiction list. This is the kind of thing that makes me feel like, Ok – it wasn’t a dream. I did actually publish a book in 2010. (If this sounds incredibly solipsistic, do forgive me; but with all the awards and “Best of” lists that come out at the end of the year, you don’t even realize how it’s affecting you until something like this reveals it to you.)
Northbrook Public Library’s Best of Fiction 2010
Sarah Blake, The Postmistress.
In 1940, an American woman’s radio reports on the Blitz are heard back home by the wife of a doctor who goes to war and a Cape Cod postmistress who makes a fateful decision about a letter in her care.
Chris Bohjalian, Secrets of Eden.
A minister has a crisis of faith after a parishioner he baptized is found dead with her husband in an apparent murder-suicide.
Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America.
A French nobleman whose parents survived the French Revolution is sent for his safety to America accompanied by an English servant.
Tracy Chevalier, Remarkable Creatures.
In 19th century England, a girl whose talent for discovering fossils makes her the target of gossip and suspicion is befriended by a like-minded London woman.
Sonya Chung, Long for This World.
Over 50 years after he emigrated to America, a man returns to Korea followed by his daughter—a war photographer recovering from injuries.
Jonathan Dee, The Privileges.
A couple marry straight out of college and ruthlessly pursue the life of privilege to which they feel entitled.
Anthony Doerr, The Memory Wall.
A collection of short stories focusing on the persistence and loss of memory.
Emma Donoghue, Room.
A 5-year-old boy has spent his entire life in a room where his mother is being held captive by a man who kidnapped her, but one day she tells her son it’s time to escape.
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad.
The past, present and futures lives of a former punk rocker turned record executive and his assistant.
Anne Fortier, Juliet.
An American travels to Siena in search of her Italian heritage and discovers she is descended from the woman who inspired the story of Romeo and Juliet.
Julia Franck, The Blindness of the Heart.
At the end of the war in Germany, a woman abandons her 7-year-old son in a train station.
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom.
A liberal couple with a seemingly idyllic marriage find their lives falling apart as their son gets involved with conservative neighbors, the wife’s behavior becomes erratic, and the husband’s environmental values are compromised in his quest to save an endangered bird.
Julia Glass, The Widower’s Tale.
A recently retired widower finds his routines disrupted after he agrees to lease his barn to a preschool.
Allegra Goodman, The Cookbook Collector.
Two sisters—one the successful CEO of a computer company, the other an environmental activist working in a bookstore—begin to question what’s important to them.
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule.
A trainer attempts a horse racing scam at a small, backwoods track in West Virginia, but nothing goes according to plan. National Book Award winner.
David Grossman, To the End of the Land.
Fearing bad news about her son in the Israeli army, a woman goes on a hike in Galilee with a former lover who became a recluse after the Yom Kippur war.
Lisa Grunwald, The Irresistible Henry House.
An orphan who was raised by a series of women as a “practice baby” in a college home economics program grows up learning how to please women while remaining detached from them.
Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question.
A British gentile who envies his Jewish friend has an identity crisis after he’s attacked by a mugger whom he thinks mistook him for a Jew. Booker Prize winner.
Daphne Kalotay, Russian Winter.
As she prepares to auction her jewelry, an elderly woman recalls her past as a star of the Bolshoi Ballet.
Lily King, Father of the Rain.
After her parents separate, a girl watches her alcoholic father’s behavior become increasingly erratic.
Nicole Krauss, Great House.
The stories of four people are connected by a desk that was looted from the home of a Jewish man in Budapest during World War II.
Jean Kwok, Girl in Translation.
A girl who emigrates with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn must work in a Chinatown sweatshop at night while trying to excel at school during the day.
Chang-Rae Lee, The Surrendered.
During the Korean War, an American GI brings a refugee girl to an orphanage where they are both drawn to a troubled minister’s wife.
Andrea Levy, The Long Song.
A Jamaican slave is taken into the manor house by her mistress and lives through the slave revolt.
Sam Lipsyte, The Ask.
A man is fired from his job finding donors for a university arts program but is rehired at the behest of a wealthy former classmate—with strings attached.
Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn.
A company of Marines in the Vietnam jungle face the enemy and the elements as well as racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous officers.
Leila Meacham, Roses.
A multigenerational family saga centered on a woman who is determined to run her family’s Texas cotton plantation despite the personal cost to herself.
Maaza Mengiste, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.
A doctor and his family are caught in the turmoil of the 1970s civil war in Ethiopia.
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
In 1799, a Dutchman comes to an island off the coast of Japan to uncover fraud at the Dutch East Indies outpost and falls in love with a Japanese midwife.
Kate Morton, The Distant Hours.
When a long-lost letter arrives 50 years late, a woman unravels the secret past of her mother, who was evacuated during the Blitz to a castle where three sisters lived with their father—a famous children’s book author.
Paul Murray, Skippy Dies.
When 14-year-old Skippy ends up dead on the floor of a donut shop, various students and teachers from his elite Dublin boarding school may have played a role.
David Nicholls, One Day.
A man and woman who met on the day they graduated from college go about their separate lives but maintain a connection to each other.
Howard Norman, What Is Left the Daughter.
During World War II, an young man orphaned by his parents’ suicides falls in love with a girl who’s involved with a German student.
Maggie O’Farrell, The Hand That First Held Mine.
The parallel stories of a journalist in 1950s London who became an unwed mother and a modern-day couple traumatized by a difficult childbirth.
Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge.
In 1937, three Hungarian Jewish brothers embark on separate paths, but their lives change as World War II begins.
Tom Rachman, The Imperfectionists.
The staff of an English-language newspaper in Rome deal with personal dramas while trying to keep the paper operational.
Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story.
In a near-future dystopian America, a middle-aged man yearns for a reluctant younger woman.
Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
In a small English village, a widowed army major forms a friendship with a Pakistani widow who runs the local shop.
Tatjana Soli, The Lotus Eaters.
After her brother is killed in the Vietnam War, a woman goes to Saigon to work as a photojournalist.
Brady Udall, The Lonely Polygamist.
A man with four wives, twenty-eight children and a failing construction business has a midlife crisis.
Isabel Wolff, A Vintage Affair.
A woman leaves her job at Sotheby’s to open a vintage clothes shop and befriends an elderly Frenchwoman who’s reluctant to part with an old child’s coat.