The Best by Year

Although these Best Of lists varied in length through the years, I have gone back and ruthlessly clipped each one to display no more than twenty titles. This will both save room for subsequent years and also provide an element of conformity (as if conformity is a good thing).

2017

  1. It Can’t Happen Here — Sinclair Lewis
  2. Naphtalene — Alia Mamdouh
  3. Under Fire — Henri Barbusse
  4. Fat City — Leonard Gardener
  5. The mis-en-scène — Claude Ollier
  6. The Illogic of Kassel — Enrique Vila-Matas
  7. Concrete — Thomas Bernhard
  8. La Curée — Émile Zola
  9. Snakepit: A Novel — Moses Ishegawa
  10. Black Spring — Henry Miller
  11. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek — Annie Dillard
  12. A Separate Peace — John Knowles
  13. The Easter Parade — Richard Yates
  14. The Painter of Battles — Arturo Pérez-Reverte
  15. Dendera — Yuka Sato
  16. The Way of Muri — Ilya Boyashov
  17. Xala — Ousmane Sembène
  18. Ernesto — Umberto Saba
  19. Slouching Towards Bethlehem — Joan Didion
  20. I Hate Martin Amis et al — Peter Barry

2016

  1. The Republic of Wine — Mo Yan
  2. Wind, Sand and Stars — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  3. Near To the Wild Heart — Clarice Lispector
  4. Tropisms — Natalie Sarraute
  5. A Simple Story — S. Y. Agnon
  6. The Temple of Dawn — Yukio Mishima
  7. Mascara: A Novel — Ariel Dorfman
  8. Vaseline Buddha — Jung Young Moon
  9. Night — Vedrana Rudan
  10. King, Queen, Knave: A Novel — Vladimir Nabokov
  11. Hell — Yasutaka Tsutsui
  12. The Bathing Women — Tie Ning
  13. Don’t Call It Night — Amos Oz
  14. The Committee — Sun’Allah Ibrahim
  15. Journey Into the Past — Stephan Zweig
  16. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning — Alan Sillitoe
  17. Forty Rooms — Olga Grushin
  18. Le Ventre de Paris — Emile Zola
  19. Stealth — Sun’Allah Ibrahim
  20. The Sleep of the Righteous — Wolfgang Hilbig

2015

  1. The Obstacles — Eloy Urroz
  2. Submission — Michel Houellebecq
  3. The Dalkey Archive — Flann O’Brien
  4. Mercier et Camier — Samuel Beckett
  5. Despair – Vladimir Nabokov
  6. Runaway Horses — Yukio Mishima
  7. The Ambassadors — Henry James
  8. Sapiens — Uval Noah Harari
  9. Salamander — Thomas Wharton
  10. The French Lieutenant’s Woman — John Fowles
  11. The Man Who Was Thursday — C. K. Chesterton
  12. Black Boy — Richard Wright
  13. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter — Mario Vargas Llosa
  14. Numero Zero — Umberto Eco
  15. Venus On the Half-Shell — Kilgore Trout
  16. A Clue To the Exit — Edward St. Aubyn
  17. The Interrogation — J. M. G. Le Clézio
  18. City of Night — John Rechy
  19. The Great American Novel — Philip Roth
  20. Why Darwin Matters — Michael Shermer

2014

  1. The Forsyte Saga [A Man of Property, In Chancery, To Let] — John Galsworthy
  2. The U. S. A. Trilogy [The 42nd Parallel, 1919, The Big Money] — John Dos Passos
  3. Desert — J. M. G. Le Clézio
  4. Giles Goat-Boy — John Barth
  5. The Royal Family — William T. Vollmann
  6. The Jungle — Upton Sinclair
  7. Satantango — László Kransznahorkai
  8. Return To Manure — Raymond Federman
  9. Gone With the Wind — Margaret Mitchell
  10. De Profundis — Oscar Wilde
  11. Old Masters — Thomas Bernhard
  12. The Stone Raft — José Saramago
  13. Revolutionary Road — Richard Yates
  14. Borstal Boy — Brendan Behan
  15. Momo — Romain Gary
  16. A Heart So White — Javier Marías
  17. A Grain of Wheat — Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  18. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold — John Le Carré
  19. Trout Fishing In America — Richard Brautigan
  20. The Man Who Loved Children — Christina Stead

2013

  1. The Master and Margarita — Mikhail Bulgakov
  2. The Adventures of Augie March — Saul Bellow
  3. The 42nd Parallel — John Dos Passos
  4. Mercy of a Rude Stream: Diving Rock on the Hudson — Henry Roth
  5. Herzog — Saul Bellow
  6. Germinal — Émile Zola
  7. The Death of Artemio Cruz — Carlos Fuentes
  8. Native Son — Richard Wright
  9. The Emigrants — W. G. Sebald
  10. Spring Snow — Yukio Mishimi
  11. V. — Thomas Pynchon
  12. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth — Reza Aslan
  13. Thérèse Desqueyroux – François Mauriac
  14. Plus — Joseph McElroy
  15. The Origin of the Brunists — Robert Coover
  16.  The Opposing Shore — Julien Gracq
  17. The End of the Affair — Graham Greene
  18. White Teeth — Zadie Smith
  19. World’s End — T. C. Boyle
  20. The Post-Office Girl — Stefan Zweig

2012

  1. Absalom, Absalom! — William Faulkner
  2. The Radetzky March — Joseph Roth
  3. Wonderful Wonderful Times — Elfriede Jelinek
  4. 60 Stories — Donald Barthelme
  5. Juan the Landless — Juan Goytisolo
  6. The Possibility of an Island — Michel Houellebecq
  7. Berg — Ann Quin
  8. brütt, or The Sighing Garden — Friederike Mayröcker
  9. The Great Fire of London [A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations] — Jacques Roubaud
  10. The Prospector — J. M. G. Le Clézio
  11. Jacques the Fatalist — Denis Diderot
  12. The Dog King — Christoph Ransmayr
  13. Tropic of Capricorn — Henry Miller
  14. Parabola — Lily Hoang
  15. Ferdedurke — Witold Gombrowicz
  16. The Berlin Stories — Christopher Isherwood
  17. Knowledge of Hell — António Lobo Antunes
  18. Vineland — Thomas Pynchon
  19. The Nonexistent Knight — Italo Calvino
  20. Three — Ann Quin

2011

  1. Under the Volcano — Malcolm Lowry
  2. The Sound and the Fury — William Faulkner
  3. The Inquisitory — Robert Pinget
  4. Parade’s End — Ford Madox Ford
  5. Pussy, King of Pirates — Kathy Acker
  6. The Obscene Bird of Night — José Donoso
  7. Le Noeud de Vipères — François Mauriac
  8. The City Builder — George Konrád
  9. Butterfly Stories — William T. Vollmann
  10. Fable For Another Time — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  11. Count Julian — Juan Goytisolo
  12. Never Any End in Paris — Enrique Vila-Matas
  13. A Minor Apocalypse — Tadeusz Konwicki
  14. Sanctuary — William Faulkner
  15. La Bête humaine – Émile Zola
  16. Tropic of Orange — Karen Tei Yamashita
  17. Scorch Atlas — Blake Butler
  18. John-Juan — Douglas Woolf
  19. The Mystery of the Sardine — Stephan Themerson
  20. Jerusalem — Gonçalo M. Tavares

2010

  1. La Vie mode d’emploi – Georges Perec
  2. Waiting For Godot – Samuel Beckett
  3. Mulligan Stew – Gilbert Sorrentino
  4. The Libera Me Domine – Robert Pinget
  5. Nights At the Circus – Angela Carter
  6. Cigarettes – Harry Mathews
  7. The Vice-Consul – Marguerite Duras
  8. Bartleby & Co. – Enrique Vila-Matas
  9. Kiss of the Spider Woman – Manuel Puig
  10. The Letters of Mina Harker – Dodie Bellamy
  11. Take It or Leave It – Raymond Federman
  12. Montano’s Malady – Enrique Vila-Matas
  13. The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
  14. Embers – Sandor Marai
  15. The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor – John Barth
  16. The She-Devil in the Mirror – Horacio Castellanos Moya
  17. Homo Zapiens – Victor Pelevin
  18. Nazi Literature In the Americas – Roberto Bolaño
  19. The Street of Crocodiles – Bruno Schulz
  20. Marks of Identity – Juan Goytisolo

2009

  1. Madame Bovary — Gustave Flaubert
  2. I’m Not Stiller — Max Frisch
  3. Homo Faber — Max Frisch
  4. AVA — Carole Maso
  5. The Natural Order of Things — António Lobo Antunes
  6. Manhattan Transfer — John Dos Passos
  7. Exercises in Style — Raymond Queneau
  8. Mobius Dick — Andrew Crumey
  9. Cosmicomics — Italo Calvino
  10. The Ravishing of Lol Stein — Marguerite Duras
  11. La Nausée — Jean-Paul Sartre
  12. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter — César Aira
  13. In Memorium to Identity — Kathy Acker
  14. How I Became a Nun — César Aira
  15. Camera — Jean-Philippe Toussaint
  16. Aureole: An Erotic Sequence — Carole Maso
  17. The Abyss — Marguerite Yourcenar
  18. Heartsnatcher — Boris Vian
  19. The Jade Cabinet — Rikki Ducornet
  20. Gazelle — Rikki Ducornet

2008

  1. Le Voyeur — Alain Robbe-Grillet
  2. The Flight of Icarus — Raymond Queneau
  3. At Swim-Two-Birds — Flann O’Brien
  4. Mumbo Jumbo — Ismael Reed
  5. The Invention of Morel — Adolfo Bioy Casares
  6. Vain Art of the Fugue — Dimitru Tsepeneag
  7. Le Chiendent — Raymond Queneau
  8. Invisible Cities — Italo Calvino
  9. Pedro Páramo — Juan Rulfo
  10. Moravagine — Blaise Cendrares
  11. Entering Fire — Rikki Ducornet
  12. Giovanni’s Room — James Baldwin
  13. Blow-Up and Other Stories — Julio Cortázar
  14. Le Grand Meaulnes — Alain-Fournier
  15. This Blinding Absence of Light — Tahar Ben Jelloun
  16. The Assistant — Robert Walser
  17. L’Assommoir — Émile Zola
  18. Gilgamesh — Stephen Mitchell
  19. At the Wall of the Almighty — Farnoosh Moshiri
  20. 62: A Model Kit — Julio Cortázar

2007

  1. Notre Dame des fleurs — Jean Genet
  2. Life, A User’s Manual — Georges Perec
  3. Middlemarch — George Eliot
  4. The Dubliners — James Joyce
  5. Les Mandarins — Simone de Beauvoir
  6. The Wild Geese — Ogai Mori
  7. The Age of Wire and String — Ben Marcus
  8. Up — Ronald Sukenick
  9. Bouvard et Pécuchet — Gustave Flaubert
  10. La Pharisienne — François Mauriac
  11. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — James Joyce
  12. Chimera — John Barth
  13. The Conversions — Harry Mathews
  14. Mademoiselle de Maupin — Théophile Gautier
  15. The Rings of Saturn — W. G. Sebald
  16. Exercises in Style — Raymond Queneau
  17. The Last World — Christoph Ransmayr
  18. The Garden of Departed Cats — Bilge Karasu
  19. Wittgenstein’s Nephew — Thomas Bernhard
  20. Memoirs of Hadrian — Marguerite Yourcena

2006

  1. A La Recherche du Temps Perdu — Marcel Proust
  2. Our Lady of the Flowers — Jean Genet
  3. Europe Central — William T. Vollmann
  4. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion — Yukio Mishima
  5. Doctor Faustus — Thomas Mann
  6. The Waves — Virginia Woolf
  7. Mr. Mee — Andrew Crumey
  8. The Death of the Heart — Elizabeth Bowen
  9. Les Enfants Terribles — Jean Cocteau
  10. Pale Fire — Vladimir Nabokov
  11. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler — Italo Calvino
  12. Pfitz — Andrew Crumey
  13. Magister Ludi — Hermann Hesse
  14. Fortress Besieged — Qian Zhongshu
  15. Berlin Alexanderplatz — Alfred Döblin
  16. The Plague — Albert Camus
  17. Wittgenstein’s Mistress — David Markson
  18. Midnight’s Children — Salman Rushdie
  19. Second Skin — John Hawkes
  20. Dear Mr. Capote — Gordon Lish

2005

  1. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce
  2. The Tale of Genji — Murasaki Shikibu
  3. A Dance to the Music of Time — Anthony Powell
  4. To the Lighthouse — Virginia Woolf
  5. Moby Dick — Herman Melville
  6. You Bright & Risen Angels — William T. Vollmann
  7. Omensetter’s Luck
  8. The Good Apprentice — Iris Murdoch
  9. The Heat of the Day — Elizabeth Bowen
  10. Eva Trout — Elizabeth Bowen
  11. The Cannibal — John Hawkes
  12. The Plot Against America — Philip Roth
  13. The Severed Head — Iris Murdoch
  14. Under the Net — Iris Murdoch
  15. The Master and Margarita — Mikhail Bulgakov
  16. The Beetle Leg — John Hawkes
  17. A House For Mr. Biswas — V. S. Naipaul
  18. The Dream of Scipio — Iain Pears
  19. Don Quixote — Kathy Acker
  20. Story of the Eye — George Bataille

2004

  1. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy — Laurence Sterne
  2. Don Quixote — Miguel de Cervantes
  3. JR — William Gaddis
  4. Le Voyeur — Alain Robbe-Grillet
  5. Cry, the Beloved Country — Alan Paton
  6. Moderato Cantabile — Marguerite Duras
  7. The Sot Weed Factor — John Barth
  8. Belle du Seigneur — Albert Cohen
  9. Blood and Guts in High School — Kathy Acker
  10. The Ticket That Exploded — William S. Burroughs
  11. Roscoe — William Kennedy
  12. Salammbo — Gustave Flaubert
  13. A Rebours — J. K. Huysman
  14. Sappho — Alphonse Daudet
  15. La Maison de Rendez-vous — Alain Robbe-Grillet
  16. The Atrocity Exhibition — J. G. Ballard
  17. Les Gommes — Alain Robbe-Grillet
  18. Jude the Obscure — Thomas Hardy
  19. Invitation to a Beheading — Vladimir Nabokov
  20. Pinocchio in Venice — Robert Coover

2003

  1. Agape Agape — William Gaddis
  2. Mrs. Dalloway — Virginia Woolf
  3. The Forsyte Saga — John Galsworthy
    [The Man of Property, In Chancery, To Let]
  4. Waiting For Godot — Samuel Beckett
  5. Junky — William S. Burroughs
  6. A Room of One’s Own — Virginia Woolf
  7. Their Eyes Were Watching God — Zora Neil Hurston
  8. Last Exit to Brooklyn — Hubert Selby, Jr.
  9. A Bend In the River — V.S. Naipaul
  10. A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali — Gil Courtemanche
  11. The Sea, the Sea — Iris Murdoch
  12. The Female Quixote — Charlotte Lennox
  13. A Gesture Life — Chang-rae Lee
  14. Fight Club — Chuck Palahniuk
  15. Five By Endo — Endo
  16. The Bleeding of the Stone — Ibrahilm al-Koni
  17. Springer’s Progress — David Markham
  18. The Girl Who Played Go — Shan Sa
  19. Wolf Dreams — Yasmina Chandra
  20. The Crazed — Ha Jin

2002

  1. The Snopes’ Trilogy — William Faulkner
    [The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion]
  2. The Trilogy — Samuel Beckett
    [Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable]
  3. ABC of Reading — Ezra Pound
  4. Beowulf — Seamus Heaney
  5. Carpenter’s Gothic — William Gaddis
  6. The Abbruzo Trilogy — Ignazio Siloni
    [Fontamara, Bread and Wine, The Seed eneath the Snow]
  7. A Room of One’s Own — Virginia Woolf
  8. The Moonstone — Wilkie Collins
  9. Pricksongs & Descants — Robert Coover
  10. The Vintner’s Luck — Elizabeth Knox
  11. Tristram Shandy — Laurence Sterne
  12. Adam Bede — George Eliot
  13. The Mill On the Floss — George Eliot
  14. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexandre Dumas
  15. Kingsblood Royal — Sinclair Lewis
  16. Depraved Indifference — Gary Indiana
  17. A Clockwork Orange — Anthony Burgess
  18. Gertrude and Claudius — John Updike
  19. Briar Rose — Robert Coover

2001

  1. A Dance to the Music of Time — Anthony Powell
  2. The Tin Drum — Günter Grass
  3. East of Eden — John Steinbeck
  4. Sentimental Education — Gustave Flaubert
  5. The Makioka Sisters — Junichiro Tanizaki
  6. Tropic of Cancer — Henry Miller
  7. McTeague — Frank Norris
  8. The Idiot — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  9. The Last Samurai — Helen DeWitt
  10. In the Pond — Ha Jin
  11. 1934: A Novel — Alberto Moravia
  12. Claudius the God– Robert Graves
  13. The Sheltering Sky — Paul Bowles
  14. The Trees — Conrad Richter
  15. The Song of the Lark — Willa Cather
  16. Kim — Rudyard Kipling
  17. The Journal of the Plague Year — Daniel Defoe
  18. Cat and Mouse — Günter Grass
  19. Appointment in Samarra — John O’Hara
  20. The Watch — Carlo Levi

2000

  1. War and Peace — Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Last Temptation of Christ — Nikos Kazantzakis
  3. The Human Stain — Philip Roth
  4. Droll Stories — Honoré de Balzac
  5. The Sea of Grass — Conrad Richter
  6. Beyond the Curve — Kobo Abe
  7. Emma — Jane Austen
  8. Miracle of the Rose — Jean Genet
  9. Marguerite de Valois — Alexandre Dumas
  10. The Old Curiosity Shop — Charles Dickens
  11. Les Employés — Honoré de Balzac
  12. Bech (Bech: A Book; Bech Is Back; Bech At Bay) — John Updike
  13. New Year’s Eve — Edith Wharton
  14. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner — Alan Sillitoe
  15. The House of Mirth — Edith Wharton
  16. Quicksand — Junichiro Tanizaki
  17. Headbirths or The Germans Are Dying Out — Günter Grass
  18. The Black Tulip — Alexandre Dumas
  19. The Haunted Hotel — Wilkie Colins
  20. Castle Eppstein — Alexandre Dumas

1999

  1. Ulysses — James Joyce
  2. I, Claudius — Robert Graves
  3. David Copperfield — Charles Dickens
  4. To the Lighthouse — Virginia Woolf
  5. Blindness — José Saramago
  6. Auto da-Fé — Elias Canetti
  7. A Book of Memories — Péter Nádas
  8. The Yellow Wall-Paper — Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  9. Mountolive & Clea — Lawrence Durrell
  10. Love In the Time of Cholera — Gabriel García Márquez
  11. The End of a Family Story — Péter Nádas
  12. Billiards at Half-Past Nine — Heinrich Böll
  13. South of the Border, West of the Sun — Haruki Murakami
  14. The Spire — William Golding
  15. How Green Was My Valley — Richard Llewellyn
  16. The Harafish — Naguib Mahfouz
  17. The Blue Flower — Penelope Fitzgerald
  18. Animal Dreams — Barbara Kingsolver
  19. Kitchen — Banana Yoshimoto
  20. The Box Man — Kobo Abé

1998

  1. Mr. Sammler’s Planet — Saul Bellow
  2. La Belle Captive — Alain Robbe-Grillet with René Magritte
  3. Stones from the River — Ursula Hegi
  4. A Widow For One Year — John Irving
  5. Rabbit At Rest — John Updike
  6. American Pastoral — Philip Roth
  7. Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur Golden
  8. The Long Night of White Chickens — Francisco Goldman
  9. The Crying of Lot 49 — Thomas Pynchon
  10. Dead Souls — Nikolai Gogol
  11. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler — Italo Calvino
  12. Men Without Women — Ernest Hemingway
  13. A Passage to India — E. M. Forster
  14. The Master of Go, Yasunari Kawabata
  15. Sultry Moon — Mempo Giardinelli
  16. Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe

1997

  1. The Cairo Trilogy — Naguib Mahfouz
     [Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street]
  2. Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austin
  3. The Odyssey — Homer
  4. The Snows of Kilimanjaro — Ernest Hemingway
  5. War with the Newts — Karel Capek
  6. The Shipping News — E. Annie Proulx
  7. Chronicle of a Death Foretold — Gabriel García Márquez
  8. Children of the Alley — Naguib Mahfouz
  9. Jealousy — Alain Robbe-Grillet
  10. Balthazar — Lawrence Durrell
  11. A River Runs Through It — Norman Maclean
  12. Journey To the End of Night –Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  13. Corelli’s Mandolin — Louis De Bernières
  14. The Dharma Bums — Jack Kerouac
  15. Dracula — Bram Stoker
  16. An Artist of the Floating World — Kazuo Ishiguro


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