Publishers Weekly has come out with the first Best Books of 2013 list. Today, I will talk about the top 10 - 5 nonfiction and 5 fiction. I don't know whether I agree with their list but then I have not read all of them. Most are available at the library today although there are two of them that are on order and you will need to put your name on the list if you want to see if you agree with their opinion.
First is Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill - a one time banks and published poet. With an experimental narrative design, Hill portrays the troubled childhood of San Franciscan Christopher Westall and also, at the same time, his search for himself as an adult. Those who have read it, declare it the best book of the year. If you are a fan of literary fiction, then this might be your cup of tea.
The next novel is Hanya Yanagihara's The People in the Trees. The memoirs of Norton Perina who is currently in prison. Perina is a scientist who, after graduating from Harvard medical school in the 1940's, travels to a remote Pacific island chain where he might possibly have found the secret to immortality.This work has been particularly praised for it's world building but apparently, it is not for the faint of heart.
Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is next. This is Marra's debut novel and it has made quite an impact. It takes place in Chechnya where an 8 year old girl watches her father taken away and her home burned to the ground. A neighbor rescues her and takes her to what he thinks is a safe place, an abandoned hospital where a sole doctor remains to help the wounded. It is a study of what humanity remains in a war torn country.
The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees is a translation of a work by a Syrian author. Sirees is currently living in the United States and as an outspoken opponent of the Syrian government, escape his country to live in Egypt. The hero in this novel is a banned author who is arrested after stopping to assist a student being beaten by police. His work has been compared to Kafka and Orwell.
Lastly in the fiction category is The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.It is the account of a slave boy who becomes involved with John Brown's antislavery group and must pass as a girl to survive. An adventure story for sure, where Brown is portrayed as a well intentioned lunatic, but also definite deeper truths are also present.
Nonfiction wise - most are defined by their title so I won't be doing much describing:
Lawrence Wright's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief
Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill exposes how the war on terror is actually conducted.
Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward recounts the tragic deaths of five important men in her life.
Robert Kolker's Lost Girls : An Unsolved Mystery covers this tale of the five young escorts whose bodies were found on Long Island's Oak Beach.
Finally, Carla Kaplan's Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance.
These are the top 10 for the editors of Publisher's Weekly. We will see how they match up with other publications of 'Best' lists - like the New York Times.