It’s only halfway through November, but I’m already done reading books published in 2018. I’m exhausted. Plus, I’m already diving into 2019 publications.
Narrowing my favorite books to ten works of fiction with an additional ten non-fiction books was hard. Normally, I cop out and just list a few dozen books in alphabetical order. This year, I attempted to rate the books in some semblance of an order. I considered books I fawned over during my initial read, ones I recommended the most since reading, and the ones I looped back to the most to find a breathtaking passage or standout line.
Today, I start working part-time my favorite bookstore – Changing Hands in Phoenix. I am incredibly stoked because I love bookstores. I often spend any free time that I need to kill at a local indie or at Barnes & Noble. I even worked at BN in Augusta, Maine and Tempe, Arizona (where I dated someone at each one… so there’s that).
For nearly three years, now I have interviewed authors for various sites including Electric Literature and the Millions. I’ve provided some reviews and criticism as well; mostly at Writer’s Bone. If you didn’t already know, I love books. Now that I am going to be on the front lines of the book world a few days a week, I went through my favorite works of fiction – mostly novels, but some short story collections as well – so I could be ready to suggest some works people may have missed.
George Saunders and Jesmyn Ward are two of the largest Goliaths in the literary world right now. Saunders, a noted short story master, won the Man Booker for his first ever novel Lincoln in the Bardo. Ward, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, took home the award again for Sing, Unburied, Sing.
I was lucky enough to interview both of them in 2017. You can read both interviews at Electric Literature and The Millions, respectively. Ward’s writing advice comes from a sub-section of the interview I did for my friends at Writer’s Bone. Here are excerpts from those interviews regarding advice to writers.
Reading is probably the least sexy part of pop culture. If there is a ranking it would go: keeping up on Peak TV, catching the latest Oscar bait, and hearing the newest band before the rest of the world does. Yet literature is the longest, strongest pillar of culture, pop or not.
Here are 25 works of fiction – in alphabetical order – that made me laugh, cry, shiver, and think.
The longlist for the National Book Award in fiction was released today. Of the ten authors, I was lucky to interview two of them earlier in the year. Both Garth Greenwell and Karan Mahajan wrote two of my favorite novels released in 2016 and if I had to vote for a top five to make the shortlist, both would find a spot as finalists. Read the interviews of Greenwell and Mahajan after the complete list of nominated authors.
The National Book Awards will be announced on Wednesday (November 18). Here are my predictions for who will win the fiction award. I should start off by noting that I really enjoyed two longlisted works that didn’t make the finals better than some of the finalists. Those were Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family (you can read an interview I did with him here) and Nell Zink’s Mislaid. Even so, I still think the eventual winner is among the following.