2015 was an eventful year, filled with bizarre happenings. We saw Jon Snow’s death, the never-ending debate about whether the color of the dress was blue or gold; we heard the breathtaking single by Adele and also saw princess baby Charlotte’s gooey photographs. Apart from such amazingly entertaining components, 2015 also awarded us with some great books. Let us take a stride down the memory lane to churn 10 of those books that all the book lovers read and criticized with pleasure.
The seventh novel by the British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, it revolves around a surreal effect of time where people cannot remember well about their past. The story circles around the couple Axl and Beatrice and the mysterious Saxon warrior named Wistan. The novel received mixed responses. While James Wood for The New Yorker perceived it negatively, Alex Preston for The Guardian was less of a pessimist.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 by Good reads, the novel is set in the quite village of Carriveau, France 1939, and it upholds an unseen compartment of the Second World War, that is, the woman’s war. Kristin Hannah narrates to her readers the story of two sisters, separated by years and experience and each moving towards her own path of existing accompanied by love and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France. The novel celebrates the durability and resistance of human spirit, especially women.
The receiver of 4 out of 5 by The Telegraph, it is the 20th novel of Anne Tyler. Though it was shortlisted for Man Booker Prize of 2015, the veteran reviewer of New York Times, Michiko Kakutani had viewed this book to be substandard. The story revolves around the three generations of the Whitshank family, moving back and forth over 7 decades of the 20th century. Anecdotes and the domestic rifts enhance the vivid prose of the narrative.
From the author of ‘Remainder and C’ comes this heart-wrenching novel. Tom McCarthy in this novel records the way we sense the world around us, to decode the meaning of our futile existence and the constantly flowing narrative that we regard as our lives. The novel has been well received. Duncan White, for The Telegraph has praised the novel’s conclusion. It has also been included in the shortlist of the Man Booker Prize 2015.
Written in duration of 18 months by the American novelist, the novel has become a bestseller and is also nominated for Man Booker Prize and National Book Award for Fiction. The novel received a positive response from The New Yorker and Wall Street Journal. The long awaited ‘gay novel’, it involves melodrama, sentimentalism and highly exaggerated emotions which in turn break all the canons of current literary state.
A genre-bending memoir, a work of ‘auto theory’, Maggie Nelson’s novel provides her readers with a renewed definition of love and its language. It offers a new and different edge to the concept of desire. Romance being the theme of the novel, it circles around her relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. She takes her readers to the journey of different sects of her life, which includes the complexities and simplistic joys of building a family. She follows the spirit of Sontag and Barthes in her narrative.
Also referred as Grey, the fourth installment of the Fifty Shades series by the British author was devoured by 1 million buyers within the first week of release. Whereas the previous novels were written from a female’s point of view, Grey is written from the male protagonist, that is, from Christian Grey’s point of view. An erotic romance smeared with edgy and wild sexual concepts such as sadomasochism, the critical reception of the novel has been generally negative. As The Guardian remarked, instead of incorporating mild hearted S&M, the ‘“love affair” is now the twisted work of an utter psychopath.’
Written by the Pulitzer Prize winner for the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, this book is the “most pre-ordered book” on Amazon after ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ in 2007. Clearly the most anticipated book, it has a theme of disillusionment and deals with the racial tension that was brewing in the South in 1950s and also incorporates the complicated relationship between the father, Atticus Finch and his daughter, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. Though the publisher had promoted this novel as the sequel of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Go Set a Watchman’ is actually the novel’s first draft. In an early review by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times, Atticus’ representation has been described as “shocking”.
The winner of National Book Award for Nonfiction, 2015, Ta-Nehisi Coates was inspired to write this novel after his meeting with the U.S President Barack Obama in 2013. During the same time, he was reading James Baldwin’s ‘The Fire Next Time’ which aggravated his inspiration. The novel is written in an epistolary form. It is a letter to the author’s teenaged son about the feelings, realities and symbolism that is attached to being black in the United States. The novel is an unabridged, autobiographical account of his experiences in youth when he stayed in Baltimore. The theme of the novel is the fear of physical harm which is generated as Coates recapitulates the American history of horror against the black people. Editors of The New Yorker and The New York Times have described the novel to be an exceptional. Novelist Toni Morrison wrote that Coates fulfilled ‘the intellectual void’ left by Baldwin’s death.
Another legal thriller by Grisham, it tells a tale about an unconventional street lawyer named Sebastian Rudd who fights the case of a drug-addled kid who is rumored to be a part of a satanic cult. Rudd defends such ‘wayward’ people because he believes in fair trial and justice. In November 2015, the novel was at the top of the New York Times Fiction Best Seller for two weeks.
These are the few phenomenal books that have soothed book-loving souls this year. If you haven’t gone through these above-mentioned books, it’s never too late to start reading! Hope you all have a wonderful, ‘shelves-full-of-good-books’ 2016.