Karen Joy Fowler: Books of the Year

Nora Webster: about as perfect as a book can get

 

Colm Tóibín’s Nora Webster (Viking) is about as perfect as a book can get. Through the character of one Irish widow, Tóibín reflects on grief, both as a private and a public business.  The book, like the character, is careful and restrained, but even those incidents that seem initially slight turn out to be memorable and resonant. If there is a more brilliant writer than Tóibín working today, I don’t know who that would be.

Emily St John Mandel left the chilly world of noir to write a generous and often surprisingly lovely postapocalyptic novel. The story she tells is about evenly divided between before and after – the apocalypse arrives in the form of a virulent flu that quickly wipes out most of humanity. She has herself described it as a love letter to the world we currently inhabit – to the magic of electricity, air travel, running water, easy communication across the globe. Station Eleven (Picador) is a meditation on what we would miss if we lost it, but also on the things we truly need.

Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail) was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

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