Paul Lynch's books of the year

Author of Red Sky in the Morning

George Saunders's Tenth of December (Bloomsbury) is almost matchless in contemporary short fiction: these are stories with heft and heart told in a style that is genuinely daring. Try reading Sticks, a one-page story that packs the punch of a novel. Saunders rewrites smallness into greatness.

Daniel Woodrell's The Maid's Version (Sceptre) is full of the kind of sentences and social detail that make lesser writers chew their fists. What great characters – the size of their beating hearts; the depth of their suffering. This is a book woven of the threads of hurt and loss that bind over time. It is a masterly, dazzling weave.

I'll be reading the translation of Zibaldone, the notebooks of the Italian Romantic poet Giacomo Leopardi, into old age. My US edition (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is some 2,000 pages and seems limitless. It is packed with compressed philosophical wisdom that roams the full range of life and consciousness. An inexhuastable and wise book.

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