RA Back Pocket: Fiction | Wyatt’s World

The start of the holiday season bears gifts of another sort, “best lists.” As is the practice of this column, the close of the year is dedicated to highlighting some key titles from the current year. These are books to slip into our Readers’ Advisory (RA) back pockets for use in displays and booklists and to read during the holidays. Let the countdown to 2018 begin with fiction.

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead).
    Hamid’s heartbreaking novel rejects the anonymous news stories of immigrant experiences that fueled heated debate and triggered nation-wide legal battles this year, focusing on the desires and costs for one young couple caught in the mire, creating a love story—and life story—of powerful resonance.
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central).
    Tracing the lives of a family spanning multiple generations, Lee’s piercing novel begins in the early 1900s, when Sunja gets pregnant by a married man and accepts a proposal from a visiting pastor to wed and leave her country. As Sunja ages, and her children have children, Lee ponders history and the meaning of home.
  • Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf).
    This debut collection is intimate, tactile, lyrical, and strongly written. The stories consider women and power, in a number of ways, framed through a blend of literary art, new weird, and horror. An LJ Best Short Story Collection of 2017.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Random).
    An LJ Top Ten best book of 2017 and winner of the Man Booker Prize, Saunders’s first novel is a feast for readers—big, moving, creative, and immersive. As the author considers the past, ethics, love, and loss, he offers both a tour de force in novel making and a story that will long linger in readers’ minds.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner).
    Ward is a powerhouse writer who delivers stirring stories of characters on the edge, or falling over; those striving to keep hold of their lives. Her creations all but levitate off the page given her deep talent for place, time, language, and lived truth. Here, she follows a family struggling with hurt and hardship—receiving her second National Book Award for her efforts.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com.

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