As part of our Best Books of 2014 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
Australian author Liane Moriarty proves that the success of her fifth novel, The Husband’s Secret, was no fluke. Not since Where’d You Go, Bernadette has the competitive nature of parents of school-aged children been so deftly skewered—and Moriarty is also adept at creating emotional moments that have real impact. Thanks to Moriarty’s genuine writerly chops, this juicy page-turner is a pleasure that’s anything but guilty.
Daniel Handler—perhaps better known as Lemony Snicket—is the sort of writer whose work you can't fail to recognize. There's always a playful, imaginative turn of phrase just around the corner. Something that's just not quite right. As shown below, in a passage where beleaugered father Phil Needle has had enough of the angst of his teen daughter, a pirate in the making who has recently been caught shoplifting.
Phil Needle looked down at the front section of the newspaper, which at the time this story takes place showed a photograph of a senator who was resigning his position in order to spend more time with his family. Phil Needle also wanted to spend more time with the senator's family. Look at them! Such beaming daughters! Not like Gwen, who was giving her mother a look of such violent nonchalance—I don't give a fuck—that she might as well have said it out loud.
"Talk to her," Marina said to him. "I'll finish your suitcase." Her robe ruffled with every step out of the kitchen. Gwen glared at everywhere. Phil Needle wished he could give her a tiny package with whatever it was inside, whatever her scowling little soul desired, but he couldn't. He couldn't, and since he couldn't, would she just goddamn stop?
What are you reading this week?
We're in the last stretch of 2014 (no, we can't believe it either)—which means it's time to start our annual look back at the year's best books. The full list of 50 will debut in our December issue, available online on December 1—but here's a sneak peek at the second half. Agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments!
26. Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes
27. The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
28. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
29. Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose
30. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
31. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
32. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
33. Us by David Nicholls
34. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
35. Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich
36. The Bees by Laline Paull
37. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
38. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
39. The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing
40. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
41. What Is Visible by Kimberly Elkins
42. Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn
43. Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen
44. Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
45. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
46. My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
47. My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
48. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
49. The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton
50. Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
Much more coverage of the Best Books of 2014 to come!
The People in the Trees was one of the most celebrated and imaginative debuts of 2013. Now author (and former editor) Hanya Yanagihara has put her creative talents to work in a twist on the small-town friends trying to make it in NYC story: A Little Life, which will be published by Knopf on March 10. The publisher says, "Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance."
Were you a People in the Trees fan? Will you read this one?
Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (Beloved, Home, A Mercy) will publish her 11th novel, God Help the Child, in late April 2015 with Knopf. The novel focuses on the painful relationship between Sweetness and her daughter, Bride. Sweetness, a light-skinned black woman, pushes her daughter away because of her deep black skin. Yet, despite Sweetness' refusal to accept her, the resilient, confident Bride thrives.
No doubt, Morrison will stay true to the themes of femininity and race that she has so beautifully and masterfully handled in past novels. Are you looking forward to the latest from this literary giant?
Taisy Cleary and her twin brother, Marcus, haven't seen much of their father since he left the family when they were toddlers. Now, Wilson Cleary wants Taisy back in his life: He's writing a memoir, and needs her help. Taisy's reluctant visit also means meeting her teenaged half-sister for the first time.
That's the setup for Marisa de los Santos' new novel, The Precious One, coming from Morrow on March 24. De los Santos is an insightful writer when it comes to releationships, and the estranged father/stepsister one should provide plenty of drama. Willl you look for it in March?
"The question that will burn in a reader’s mind when she finishes Some Luck, Jane Smiley’s marvelous new novel, is: How long do I have to wait to read the second volume in The Last Hundred Years trilogy?" So began our October interview with Smiley. Well, now we have the answer: Knopf plans to publish Early Warning on May 5, 2015.
No details about the book have been released, but it seems a safe assumption that it will cover the next 33 years of the lives of the Langdon family, bringing them from 1953 up through 1986.
Definitely looking forward to this one—how about you?
Well, 2015 just became a much bigger year for fiction: Jonathan Franzen will be publishing a new novel, Purity, in September.
Like The Corrections, Purity is a multigenerational family story. Unlike The Corrections, it has a "kind of fabulist quality," according to FSG president and publisher Jonathan Galassi. Main character Purity Tyler—also known as Pip—is on a quest to find her father that takes her from the contemporary US to South America to East Germany.
Critics were occasionally harsh when it came to Franzen's portrayal of Patty, the female lead in Freedom, so it will be interesting to see what he does with a novel with a single female main character (although it appears Pip's relationship with a "hacker and whistleblower" also plays a major role in the story).
It's the rare writer who can consistently release quality work over a 50-year span—but with the February 2015 publication of A Spool of Thread, Anne Tyler joins those ranks. The 73-year-old Baltimore author's first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, appeared in 1964.
A Spool of Blue Thread focuses on the Whitshank family, led by Abby and Red, a long-married couple whose story of the day they fell in love has become legendary. But now their four children are wondering whether—and how—Abby and Red can continue to live alone in the home that Red's father built as they enter their 80s.
Tyler hasn't lost her knowing eye—she explores the inner workings of this family with sensitivity and wit, providing a tender portrayal of what it means to age and the dynamics among children and the distinct relationships they each have with their parents.
Any Anne Tyler fans out there looking forward to this one?
In her 35th novel, best-selling science fiction and fantasy author Tepper brings back two of her favorite characters for another adventure. Abasio the Dyer (first seen in A Plague of Angels) and his wife, Xulai, are on a trip with a mission: to warn the residents of Tingawa of a literal sea change heading their way. The waters are rising, and people must adapt to a sea-dwelling lifestyle. Not exactly the most welcome of messages, as they discover . . .
Though they had been on this journey for almost a year now, their reception from place to place had been so varied that they had been unable to settle on a routine. Words and phrases that were acceptable in one village turned out to be fighting words in the next place, even though they tried to avoid any fighting at all. If hostility seemed imminent, they had the means to leave, and they did leave: horses, wagon, and all. Essentially they had three duties: first to explain that the world was being drowned; second to let people know about the sea-children. Third: to survive!
What are you reading this week?