You've seen the bottom 25 of our Top 50 Books of 2013—now it's time to reveal the top 25—and our #1. Drumroll please . . .
6. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
8. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
9. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne
10. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
21. Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen
22. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
23. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
24. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
25. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Catton's novel was something of a dark horse winner, given the shortlist, which included the latest works from Jim Crace (the presumed frontrunner), Jhumpa Lahiri, NoViolet Bulawayo, Ruth Ozeki and Colm Tóibín. At more than 800 pages, it's also something of a doorstop! As one judge remarked, "Those of us who didn't read it on e-readers enjoyed a full upper-body work-out."
During her acceptance speech, Catton, who at 28 is also the youngest author ever to win the prize, admitted that the book "was, from the start, a publisher’s nightmare" and thanked her publishers for taking a chance on the novel.
BookPage was among the many to take note of this talented author when her debut, The Rehearsal, was released in 2010. The Luminaries is a very different, but equally compelling, novel—a meaty historical set in the 1860s New Zealand gold fields. Carefully constructed, and with pitch-perfect Victorian narration, it's a remarkable achievement for a writer of any age. We can't wait to see what Catton does next.
Jhumpa Lahiri is back with her second novel, The Lowland. Her debut, The Namesake, earned her plenty of critical praise, and expectations for The Lowland have been quite high. Lahiri has more than met those with this "intricately plotted, melancholy family drama" that has since been shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
The novel follows two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, as they grow to lead two very different lives and encounter conflict that drives a wedge between them. A story spanning decades and two continents, The Lowland explores the power of family and memory with Lahiri's "elegant, gently understated prose."
Watch the trailer below and learn more about this Top Pick for October!
Have you checked out The Lowland yet?
Remember back when we said that this fall was one of the biggest ever? Well, that is especially true for fiction. Here are our favorite books from among the dozens going on sale today–click on the title to read our review. Which one are you most looking forward to reading?
Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois (Dial). This second novel from a promising new talent is loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox. When a young exchange student is murdered, her roommate falls under suspicion. Is Lily Hayes guilty?
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (S&S). The sequel to The Shining is here! And good news: It lives up to the legacy. Dan Torrance's continued adventures involve creepy supernatural crew called the True Knot, who travel around the country trying to find—and kill—children with "the shine."
Local Souls by Allan Gurganus (Liveright). The author of The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All makes a return to fiction with this collection of three linked novellas that are set in Falls, North Carolina, the mythical town he's made his own.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author returns to longform fiction with a second novel that tells the story of two very different brothers.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown). Known for her historicals set in 17th century New England, Kent branches out into Texas territory in her new novel, which stars a down-on-her-luck woman of fortune.
• A big thank you goes out to the folks at Book Riot who compiled this list of bookish Pinterest boards.
• Over on Today.com, some of the biggest authors share how they dealt with getting rejection letters.
Which Jhumpa Lahiri book is your favorite?
When pulling together our early 2013 forecast, one thing stood out: This year heralds the arrival of plenty of long-awaited releases. Below are several novels that readers have been anticipating for quite some time—here's hoping they were worth the wait!
Benediction by Kent Haruf (Knopf). It has been 8 years since Colorado writer Kent Haruf published a novel, but we’re happy to hear that the author of Plainsong and Eventide will be back in 2013. Haruf is an expert at depicting small-town life, and this sounds like a powerful tale of faith and community. (March)
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (Random House). Yes, her collection of linked stories, Olive Kitteridge, was published just three years ago, but Strout fans have been waiting for a new novel since 2006. Here she returns to rural Maine, which the Burgess brothers have left for a life in Brooklyn. But they're drawn back into hometown life after their nephew's thoughtless prank becomes a scandal. Random House says the book is Strout's "richest, deepest novel to date." (read more) (April)
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf). The first novel in seven years from this brilliant young writer follows two teenagers who fall in love in Nigeria, are separated for years and reunite in their home country to find that it—and they—may have changed forever. (read more) (May)
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud (Knopf). It has been seven years since Messud’s last novel—the acclaimed The Emperor’s Children—but being married to a literary critic probably doesn’t speed up the writing process. She returns with the story of a quiet teacher with dreams of becoming an artist. When she is drawn into a glamorous crowd through the family of one of her students, what appears to be her big break is instead an opening for something more sinister. (May)
Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House). Marisha Pessl's debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was one of the most-hyped novels of 2006. Pessl's writing, her $500K+ publishing deal and her fetching author photo combined to create a perfect storm of publicity around the book, which garnered mixed reviews, but all-around high marks for ambition. In 2008, she sold her second novel to a new editor, Kate Medina, and a new publisher, Random House, and it's finally been scheduled for release on August 20. (read more)
Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Harper). It's been eight long years since Tan published Saving Fish from Drowning. Her next full-length novel is about three generations of Chinese and Chinese-American women whose lives are linked by a painting, and is set in San Francisco and Shanghai over the course of some 50 years. (read more) (October)
Untitled by Diane Setterfield (Emily Bestler Books). OK, this one's a novella and not a novel, but since Setterfield fans have been waiting since 2006 for more from the British author after her debut, The Thirteenth Tale, rocketed up bestseller lists, we felt it deserved inclusion. (read more) (Fall 2013)
Middle C by William H. Gass (Knopf). It has been 17 years since Gass, an influential writer and critic whose work has won just about every award out there, published a novel. This book goes from 1938 Austria to modern-day Ohio in its exploration of evil, sin and blame. (March)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf). It's been a long time since 2003's The Namesake! Set in the 1960s and ’70s, The Lowland is a tale of two Calcutta-born brothers, Subhash and Udayan. Inseparable as children, they find themselves torn apart by the turbulent times when the idealistic Udayan makes a decision that will affect the family for generations to come. (read more) (September)
Untitled Bridget Jones novel by Helen Fielding (Knopf). Fielding published her most recent novel in 2003, but it's been 14 years since we last heard from her iconic heroine, Bridget Jones. This fall, Fielding is bringing Bridget back for a modern-day adventure, which we assume will involve facing middle age with the same comic insight that she brought to being a "singleton." Fielding says of the project, "If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it then we'll all be very happy." (November)
All That Is by James Salter (Knopf). Pretty sure Salter wins the "most long-awaited" award: His last novel, Solo Faces, was published more than 30 years ago, and it’s been seven years since he published his last work of fiction, the short story collection Last Night. This novel is billed as “a sweeping, seductive love story set in post-World War II America that tells of one man’s great passions and regrets over the course of his lifetime.” (April)
Which of these releases have YOU been waiting for? Tell us in the comments!
The latest addition to our list of anticipated titles in a year of many long-awaited releases comes from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri. Her second novel, following 2003's The Namesake, will be published in the U.S. by Knopf on September 24, 2013.
Set in the 1960s and '70s, The Lowland is a tale of two Calcutta-born brothers, Subhash and Udayan. Inseparable as children, they find themselves torn apart by the turbulent times when the idealistic Udayan makes a decision that will affect the family for generations to come. Here's a little more from the description released by her U.K. publisher, Bloomsbury:
"Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date."
Several of you requested a Top 10 list of short story collections back when I asked what "best" lists you want to see.
So, here are 10 collections BookPage strongly recommends, ordered alphabetically. Read 'em from beginning to end, or read them in bite-sized pieces. That's what I love about story collections. They're perfect when you don't have time to read a whole book, or you want the satisfaction of a beginning, middle and end in a short period of time.
In Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, Danielle Evans takes as her subject people in transition: adolescents, children split between divorced parents, college graduates drifting between partners and jobs. Moral ambiguity is explored beautifully in the best of these stories as well as the deeply felt moments of choice and regret. (Keep reading this review.)
In Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, Yiyun Li explores the big themes—individuality, honor, family ties and love—and sets them against a richly detailed tapestry of Chinese life. Though each story takes place in modern-day China, they are formally rigorous and crafted with an elegance that harkens back to stylists like Chekhov and William Trevor. (Keep reading this review.)
Kelly Link's second short story collection is aptly titled Magic for Beginners, for the short fiction she presents here is truly magical, with masterfully crafted stories that are as dark as they are delightful. (Keep reading this review.)
David Bezmozgis' Natasha: and Other Stories, seven stories about growing up a poor Russian Jewish immigrant in Toronto, are so Russian in tone they should be read with a glass of tea at hand and a cube of sugar between one's teeth. Yet they are so Western in theme that even if you've never set foot outside your hometown, they'll make your heart ache. (Keep reading this review.)
Hailed as Alice Munro's best collection yet, Runaway is the 12th book from an author who has perfected the short story form. In these eight selections, each of which takes place in her native Canada, Munro examines the nuances of human relationships, exploring the complexities of marriage, the difficulties of parenting and the responsibilities inherent in friendship. (Keep reading this review.)
Karen Russell's startlingly original collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, features graceful and seductive prose that transports the reader into surreal and yet utterly plausible realms. (Keep reading this review.)
The stories in Swim Back to Me, Ann Packer’s collection, are powerful. They focus on situations that make us uncomfortable to varying degrees—from the disorienting feeling of misjudging a co-worker, to the adolescent recognition of being ditched by a friend, to the excruciating pain of losing a child. (Keep reading this review.)
From the opening tale of Nam Le's The Boat, it's hard not to be giddy: Wait, was that a brilliantly self-conscious and humorous slice of the writing life, which doubled as a poignant story about fathers and sons and family tragedies? Yes. Yes, it was. Things only get better from there. (Keep reading this review.)
Most of the 12 stories in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck focus on men and women who travel between Africa and the United States. Nigeria is the place where most of Adichie’s characters live, leave and long to return, while the U.S. is a place of promise, new beginnings and ultimate disappointments. (Keep reading this review.)
Jhumpa Lahiri has carved out a distinctive literary niche, and her tales of Indians encountering contemporary American life have resonated with a wide swath of readers. Her story collection, Unaccustomed Earth, only burnishes that estimable reputation. (Keep reading this review.)
What collections are we missing from this list? Why do you love short stories?