Neel Mukherjee: Books of the Year
The most brilliant European writer of my generation
Two South African novels stood out this year. The Restless Supermarket, by Ivan Vladislavic (And Other Stories), is set in turn-of-the-regime South Africa and features an unknowing, unreliable, white, racist narrator, Aubrey Tearle. It can be read as Vladislavic’s homage to Nabokov’s Pale Fire and is as imaginatively wild, as brilliantly conceived and written.
October, by Zoë Wicomb (the New Press), sees her return to themes of exile, home-making and homecoming, deepening her meditations on the subjects, in an exquisitely written novel set in Scotland and the Western Cape.
Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days (Portobello), translated by Susan Bernofsky, applies the idea of counterfactual histories to a single woman’s life and makes her live and die at different times. In the process it prises open the troubled box that is 20th-century European history. It entrenches her position as the most brilliant European writer of my generation.
Rose Tremain’s new collection of short stories, The American Lover (Chatto & Windus), is, as you would expect from her, superb, each story a perfectly cut jewel.
The Lives of Others, by Neel Mukherjee (Chatto and Windus), was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize