Best books of 2012: The year in news

Jan. 23

 Jack Gantos wins the Newbery Medal for “Dead End in Norvelt,” about his boyhood town in Pennsylvania.

March 13

After 244 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica announces it will go all-digital and stop printing bound volumes.

April 16

Pulitzer Prize board declines to award a prize for fiction this year.

May 1

Robert Caro releases the fourth volume of his biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

May 2

A celebration is held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to mark the 350th anniversary of the Anglican “Book of Common Prayer.” Continue reading

50 notable works of fiction

50 notable works of fiction


 By G. Willow Wilson (Grove)

Wilson’s marvelous first novel takes events similar to those of the Arab Spring, adds a runaway computer virus, an unconventional love story and the odd genie to create an intoxicating, politicized amalgam of science fiction and fantasy. — Elizabeth Hand


By Ivan Doig (Riverhead)

In this subtle and engaging narrative, a 12-year-old boy tries to figure out the adult world, including his saloonkeeper father. Doig, 73, delivers a slow-paced novel filled with the joys of careful and loving observation. — Jon Clinch


By Jess Walter (Harper)

Hopscotching between 1960s Italy and today’s Hollywood, the story sends a young Italian in search of a long-remembered starlet in a plot that’s lively and well constructed — a lemon meringue pie of a novel: crisp and funny on top, soft and gooey inside. — Allegra Goodman


By Chase Novak (Mulholland)

One could think of this horror story about a couple trying to conceive a child as “Rosemary’s Baby’s Parents,” redolent of Roald Dahl at his creepy best, with enough humor to make the mayhem palatable. 
— Dennis Drabelle


By Laura Moriarty (Riverhead)

In Moriarty’s captivating novel, we meet silent-screen star Louise Brooks long before her arrival in Hollywood. Fifteen-year-old Louise has been invited to take summer classes with a legendary New York dance troupe, but she may go only with a proper chaperone. This is a nuanced portrayal of social upheaval during the Jazz Age. — Caroline Preston

DEAR LIFE: Stories

By Alice Munro (Knopf)

With her stunning new collection, Munro demonstrates that there is no writer quite as good at illustrating the foibles of love, the confusions and frustrations of life, or the inner cruelty and treachery that can be revealed in the slightest gestures. — Ron Hansen Continue reading



The 10 Best Books of 2011



By Chad Harbach

At a small college on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, the baseball team sees its fortunes rise and then rise some more with the arrival of a supremely gifted shortstop. Harbach’s expansive, allusive first novel combines the pleasures of an old-fashioned baseball story with a stately, self-reflective meditation on talent and the limits of ambition, played out on a field where every hesitation is amplified and every error judged by an exacting, bloodthirsty audience.


By Stephen King

Throughout his career, King has explored fresh ways to blend the ordinary and the supernatural. His new novel imagines a time portal in a Maine diner that lets an English teacher go back to 1958 in an effort to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and — rewardingly for readers — also allows King to reflect on questions of memory, fate and free will as he richly evokes midcentury America. The past guards its secrets, this novel reminds us, and the horror behind the quotidian is time itself.


By Karen Russell. Alfred A. Knopf, cloth, $24.95; Vintage Contemporaries, paper, $14.95.

An alligator theme park, a ghost lover, a Styx-like journey through an Everglades mangrove jungle: Russell’s first novel, about a girl’s bold effort to preserve her grieving family’s way of life, is suffused with humor and gothic whimsy. But the real wonders here are the author’s exuberantly inventive language and her vivid portrait of a heroine who is wise beyond her years.


By Eleanor Henderson

Henderson’s fierce, elegiac novel, her first, follows a group of friends, lovers, parents and children through the straight-edge music scene and the early days of the AIDS epidemic. By delving deeply into the lives of her characters, tracing their long relationships not only to one another but also to various substances, Henderson catches something of the dark, apocalyptic quality of the ’80s.


By Téa Obreht

As war returns to the Balkans, a young doctor inflects her grandfather’s folk tales with stories of her own coming of age, creating a vibrant collage of historical testimony that has neither date nor dateline. Obreht, who was born in Belgrade in 1985 but left at the age of 7, has recreated, with startling immediacy and presence, a conflict she herself did not experience.




By Christopher Hitchens

Our intellectual omnivore’s latest collection could be his last (he’s dying of esophageal cancer). The book is almost 800 pages, contains more than 100 essays and addresses a ridiculously wide range of topics, including Afghanistan, Harry Potter, Thomas Jefferson, waterboarding, Henry VIII, Saul Bellow and the Ten Commandments, which Hitchens helpfully revises.


A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son.

By Ian Brown

A feature writer at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, Brown combines a reporter’s curiosity with a novelist’s instinctive feel for the unknowable in this exquisite book, an account — at once tender, pained and unexpectedly funny — of his son, Walker, who was born with a rare genetic mutation that has deprived him of even the most rudimentary capacities.


A Life of Reinvention.

By Manning Marable

From petty criminal to drug user to prisoner to minister to separatist to humanist to martyr. Marable, who worked for more than a decade on the book and died earlier this year, offers a more complete and unvarnished portrait of Malcolm X than the one found in his autobiography. The story remains inspiring.


By Daniel Kahneman. Farrar

We overestimate the importance of whatever it is we’re thinking about. We misremember the past and misjudge what will make us happy. In this comprehensive presentation of a life’s work, the world’s most influential psychologist demonstrates that irrationality is in our bones, and we are not necessarily the worse for it.


Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War.

By Amanda Foreman

Which side would Great Britain support during the Civil War? Foreman gives us an enormous cast of characters and a wealth of vivid description in her lavish examination of a second battle between North and South, the trans-Atlantic one waged for British hearts and minds.


GNBP是Galaxy National Book Prize(银河图书奖)的缩写,通常说成Galaxy Book Prize。2011年度的银河图书奖最后的短名单已经公布。在文学作品方面,桂冠诗人卡萝尔·安·达菲(Carol Ann Duffy)凭借其最新诗集《蜜蜂》(The Bees)而跻身其中。同时参加该奖项角逐的其他作家包括:Julian Barnes, Carol Birch,  Andrea Levy, Anthony Horowitz和 Alan Hollinghurst。【详细内容,请点击这里

这里的NBA不是北美篮球联盟,而是“国家图书奖”(National Book Awards)。今年国家图书奖的最终角逐名单也已于10月12日正式公布。其中的文学部分的候选人包括:

  • Andrew Krivak, for “The Sojourn” (Bellevue Literary Press), a novel set during World War I
  • Téa Obreht for “The Tiger’s Wife” (Random House), a best-selling debut novel set in the war-torn Balkans
  • Julie Otsuka for “The Buddha in the Attic” (Knopf), about Japanese “picture brides” brought to the United States nearly a century ago
  • Edith Pearlman for “Binocular Vision” (Lookout Books), a story collection whose characters confront issues of identity and relocation
  • Jesmyn Ward for “Salvage the Bones” (Bloomsbury USA), a story of a Mississippi Gulf family facing Hurricane Katrina

据说这次美国国家图书基金会( the National Book Foundation)还摆了个乌龙。他们将Lauren Myracle “Shine”列入了短名单,5天后有电话通知人家撤出。详情在这里



9月24~25日美国国家图书节(National Book Festival)期间,《华盛顿邮报》专访了几位作家。请他们就文学创作的一些问题发表了看法。作家们对写作怎么看?以下是《华盛顿邮报》采访他们的一些摘要


That rarest of occurrences: being able to finance my writing life with the writing itself.  — Russell Banks

The sound of my father’s voice on the telephone when I told him that I had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize. That the book, “Thomas and Beulah,” dealt with my home town and was about my maternal grandparents made the announcement that much sweeter.  — Rita Dove

The dream of becoming a writer as a young boy has been realized. I am so pleased I did not let my young self down.  — Jack Gantos

The writing. Which is an obvious thing to say but not obvious because so much goes into a writing career that’s not writing. And you have control over so little of it.  — Louis Bayard

When readers ask when my next book is coming out, especially my D.C. readers because they love recognizing the places, people and events that relate to the city.  — Kia DuPree

Financial security.   — Sam McBratney

That there are people who are neither friends nor relatives who actually read and appreciate what I have written.  — Jim Lehrer

By accident, I learned how to support myself comfortably enough to warrant the risk of adopting my three children, and life has never been the same since.  — Gregory Maguire


Laughing. I once watched a 6-year-old laugh so hard at my book “Diary of a Worm” that milk shot out of his nose — and I mean projected out like a jet stream. Hilarious.  — Harry Bliss

If an adult reads one of the stories to children, and they say at the end, “Read it again!”  — Joe Hayes


The fact that somehow, after hours and hours, a story will be there. . . . That’s a big leap of faith for me. Even after publishing 10 books. When it happens, though, it’s the closest thing to grace I know.  — Sarah Dessen

Actually, I think it’s quite physical.  — Linda Pastan

For me, anyway, [writing] is what infuses the world with meaning.  — Jennifer Egan

The five hindrances to successful meditation turn out to be identical to the five hindrances to successful writing: attraction, aversion, sloth, restlessness and doubt. In that way, I suppose writing resembles a spiritual activity.  — Sara Paretsky

I was once asked when I felt closest to God, and I surprised myself by saying, “When I’m writing.” I guess it’s because when I am really writing, I feel absorbed in a life that is much bigger than I am.  — Katherine Paterson

I find that it takes a lot of years of living, and many more of reckoning, to come up with one worthwhile paragraph. And when a deadline looms, prayer doesn’t hurt, either.  — Carmen Agra Deedy

For me writing is not a spiritual activity. Fishing is.  — Allen Say


When I was a child, the book I read and re-read was “Hitty, Her First Hundred Years,” by Rachel Field. Later on, I discovered “Kristin Lavransdatter,” by Sigrid Undset. I re-read that book yearly. Eventually Philip Pullman published the three-volume “His Dark Materials.” That was truly a thrilling reading experience.  — Tomie dePaola

“The Color Purple” confirmed that it is all right to tell the truth about your life. This novel gave me the courage to say, “I am a little black girl from North Carolina. My grandmother could not read or write, but I can do it for her.”  — Shelia P. Moses

“The Autobiography of Malcom X” really changed my attitude toward reading for pleasure, something I can’t say I had ever done until I read this book in high school. After finishing it, I was hungry for another joyful reading experience. “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak has had the greatest influence over my picture book work. It is a visual storytelling masterpiece.  — Kadir Nelson

In recent years, it has been Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” As I was writing my book “Black Gotham,” “Beloved” greatly influenced my thoughts about the African American historical past, how much of it has been lost to us, and how family memories can help us to retrieve it.  — Carla L. Peterson

Pablo Neruda’s “Odes to Common Things” convinced me early on to explore, as a writer and a songwriter, the utterly ordinary and tease out the beauty therein. Picked it up used at a bookstore in Louisville when I was 19.  — John McCutcheon

“The Once and Future King,” which begins with “The Sword and the Stone” and continues to the imminent death of King Arthur, perhaps was most influential. It showed me that books for adults could be serious, comic, moral, epic, gripping, all at once, without having to give up the things that made children’s books so wonderful: a sense of play, of magic, of the numinous, of consequence.  — Gregory Maguire

Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls . . .” opened the world of literature to me, although I’d always been a reader. I’d read books with interesting characters and literary figures, but it was in Ntozake’s work that I felt the human experience in literature.  — Rita Williams-Garcia

My mother was a living “book” of poems for me — and I grew up swimming in the ocean of poems she knew by heart: Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Dickinson, Longfellow — along with “A Child’s Garden of Verses.” I remember one day in our backyard in St. Paul, Minn., when I was about 3 — my mother pushing me on our red swing and reciting “The Swing,” by Robert Louis Stevenson, as she flung me up into the air, then back. I felt as if I were swinging inside the poem itself, out on the first line, back on the second — the rhythm of the poem exactly in synch with my pendulum flight! “How do you like to go up in a swing?/ Up in the air so blue?/ Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing/ Ever a child can do!” Swinging within that poem, urged forward by my mother’s hands and voice, made me understand the “shape” of poetry or words — their inspiration and safe return to earth.  — Carol Muske-Dukes


“Dear Harry, enclosed you’ll find your royalty check and statement for the period ending September 2006.” The above sentence is my favorite because it represents my son Alex’s full college tuition.  – Harry Bliss

“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” From “Charlotte’s Web.”  — Mary Brigid Barrett

“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.” From “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”  — Tomie dePaola

“But it is the memory of that woman, that boy and that vast field that continues to ride and ride in my mind, not only because it is a warm, safe and proud thing I carry with me like a talisman into cold, dangerous and spirit-numbing places, but because it so perfectly sums up the way she carried us, with such dignity.” From “All Over but the Shoutin’ ” by Rick Bragg.  – Terry McMillan

“I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes.” From Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too, Sing America”  — Shelia P. Moses

“And now abide faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” From 1 Corinthians 13:13. It is the best because it tells me who I am and who I am meant to be.  — Katherine Paterson


Taking gladiator training in Rome at the Gruppo Storico Romano, a school on the Appian Way that trains gladiators for movies and reenactments. I got to wear the helmet, carry the shield and sword, and learn both offensive and defensive fighting techniques.  — Margaret George

Sesame Street! I was U.S. poet laureate at the time, and Big Bird kept introducing me to the TV audience as the poet Laurie Ett. It was a blast; Big Bird is really huge! For many years afterward, I’d meet people who had seen that show when they were kids.  — Rita Dove

My journey 1.5 miles down into a deep gold mine in South Africa. It was very, very hot and wet, and at the same time was the kind of subterranean environment that scientists think could support life on cold and dry planets like Mars. The imagination runs wild.  — Marc Kaufman

Last year in rural north India, I got to visit the descendants of one of the American loyalists I wrote about in “Liberty’s Exiles,” who still live on the land their ancestor settled 200 years ago. They took me to their forebear’s tomb, its red sandstone dome soaring out of a yellow mustard field: a Mughal monument built by a colonial American. It was one of my most powerful encounters with the past, because it was so alive.  — Maya Jasanoff

Landing and catapulting off an aircraft carrier a half-dozen times in high-performance jets for a book I wrote on Navy pilots.  — Douglas Waller