Bert Wright: Books of the Year

Amis and Hornby: powerful but entirely different novels

 

In a powerful year for fiction, two novels stood out for opposing reasons. Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Cape) achieved the near impossible, confounding his detractors with this horrifying glimpse into the heart of Nazi darkness.

Nick Hornby’s wry, unsentimental take on the halcyon days of British light entertainment, Funny Girl (Viking), had me purring with pleasure throughout.

Adam Begley’s superb biography of my literary hero, Updike (Harper), achieved what all good literary biographies do, illuminating the life and the work while increasing one’s affection for the subject all the more.

Following on from last year’s Letters of Note, Shaun Usher’s new anthology, Lists of Note (Canongate) offers similar satisfactions with a range of historical lists that reminds us how – pathetically, or perhaps heroically – we attempt to order experience via the bullet point. Solace for the compulsive bucket-lister and a great Christmas present.

Bert Wright is administrator of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards and curator of the DLR Voices Series and the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival

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