Notable Books of 2013: NYT

BooksThe people at the New York Times have once again provided us with an extensive list of the notable books for 2013. Like all lists, this one is a good reminder of titles that you might have missed and might even expose a reader to new authors and new fiction. However, let’s consider that this list includes Stephen King. It makes you wonder what it is that makes some of these books notable (and literary value is probably not on the top of the list).

But don’t get me wrong: trying out new authors is often very disappointing but occasionally results in an electrifying experience. Like experimental writing, you take your chances, give it your best, and hope for good results. However, if you fall off the horse … get right back on try another new book or new author. The rewards, despite the bruises, can be great.

That being said, lists like this one from NYT might be accused of going for the easy read too often. I suppose the editors, like many readers, are more comfortable suggesting books by established or main-stream authors. There are definitely times when it looks like an author receives accolades simply for publishing yet-another book. And, as I suggested earlier, the intrinsic value of the author’s work is generally ignored whereas the market value is far more important. The idea is to make the profit and that, unfortunately, too often equates to placating the least-common-denomenator at the expense of challenging a reader.

Too much of today’s literature is published for its entertainment value and has little concern for the betterment of the humanities or the expansion of people’s inner life and understanding.

But it’s not all bleak. Here are the NYT selections under the banner of Fiction (Non-Fiction left as an exercise). For the complete list and all the annotations, read the full article at 100 Notable Books of 2013 at the NYT.

FICTION & POETRY

  • THE ACCURSED. By Joyce Carol Oates
  • ALL THAT IS. By James Salter
  • AMERICANAH. By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • BLEEDING EDGE. By Thomas Pynchon
  • CHILDREN ARE DIAMONDS: An African Apocalypse. By Edward Hoagland
  • THE CIRCLE. By Dave Eggers
  • CLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHT. By Edwidge Danticat
  • THE COLOR MASTER: Stories. By Aimee Bender
  • A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA. By Anthony Marra
  • THE DINNER. By Herman Koch. Translated by Sam Garrett
  • DIRTY LOVE. By Andre Dubus III
  • DISSIDENT GARDENS. By Jonathan Lethem
  • DOCTOR SLEEP. By Stephen King
  • DUPLEX. By Kathryn Davis
  • THE END OF THE POINT. By Elizabeth Graver
  • THE FLAMETHROWERS. By Rachel Kushner
  • THE GOLDFINCH. By Donna Tartt
  • THE GOOD LORD BIRD. By James McBride
  • A GUIDE TO BEING BORN: Stories. By Ramona Ausubel
  • HALF THE KINGDOM. By Lore Segal
  • I WANT TO SHOW YOU MORE: Stories. By Jamie Quatro
  • THE IMPOSSIBLE LIVES OF GRETA WELLS. By Andrew Sean Greer
  • THE INFATUATIONS. By Javier Marías. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
  • THE INTERESTINGS. By Meg Wolitzer
  • LIFE AFTER LIFE. By Kate Atkinson
  • LOCAL SOULS: Novellas. By Allan Gurganus
  • LONGBOURN. By Jo Baker
  • LOVE, DISHONOR, MARRY, DIE, CHERISH, PERISH. By David Rakoff
  • THE LOWLAND. By Jhumpa Lahiri
  • THE LUMINARIES. By Eleanor Catton
  • MADDADDAM. By Margaret Atwood
  • A MARKER TO MEASURE DRIFT. By Alexander Maksik
  • METAPHYSICAL DOG. By Frank Bidart
  • OUR ANDROMEDA. By Brenda Shaughnessy
  • SCHRODER. By Amity Gaige
  • THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS. By Elizabeth Gilbert
  • SOMEONE. By Alice McDermott
  • THE SON. By Philipp Meyer
  • THE SOUND OF THINGS FALLING. By Juan Gabriel Vásquez
  • SUBMERGENCE. By J. M. Ledgard
  • SUBTLE BODIES. By Norman Rush
  • TENTH OF DECEMBER: Stories. By George Saunders
  • THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE. By Ayana Mathis
  • THE TWO HOTEL FRANCFORTS. By David Leavitt
  • THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT. By Amy Tan
  • WANT NOT. By Jonathan Miles
  • WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES. By Karen Joy Fowler
  • WE NEED NEW NAMES. By NoViolet Bulawayo
  • WOKE UP LONELY. By Fiona Maazel
  • THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS. By Claire Messud.

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