It has been a year of doubles: two Nobel laureates, two Booker winners, even two Ian McEwan books. Guardian fiction editor Justine Jordan on the celebrated and overlooked books of the year, including some exceptional US novels, extraordinary translations and great short stories.
In a bumper year, we bid farewell to one of crime fiction’s iconic investigators (the late Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther), welcomed the return of another (Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie), lapped up new novels from John le Carré, Tana French and Don Winslow, and saw the rise of what might be described as “hot-flush noir”.
SF remains the best predictor of our collective future – and some of the most brilliant SF and fantasy of the year have tackled dystopian islands made of tech trash, a climate emergency zombie plague and the end of the internet.
Cult favourites Chris Ware and Seth returned with new books, the legendary Alan Moore bowed out, and childhood underpinned some great graphic memoirs in a fantastic year in the field.
Often poems conjure an event, a lyric occasion marked by stillness and observation. But in a year characterised by frenzy, political anticlimax and uncertainty, poetry should afford us no such luxury. Collections like Jay Bernard’s Surge and Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic took a long view of the present to ask not how history will live with what was, but how we come to terms with our history now.
For the little ones, there are some beautifully illustrations and fun books to read aloud; empowering and engaging non-fiction for older kids; and some new YA adventures from Malorie Blackman and Philip Pullman.
Demi Moore, Debbie Harry, Elton John, Julie Andrews … this year we were spoiled for superbly written, funny and revelatory memoirs by celebs.
It’s not long now until Britain finds out what Santa has brought us for a government. But whether the election delivers just what you’ve always wanted, or the political equivalent of a stocking full of ashes, a book may help – whether it is a primer for a Corbyn government, an attack on private education, or a scathing assessment of Theresa May.
A history of Jack the Ripper’s victims, memoirs about trauma and class, and a bestselling study of desire and sex … here are the standout life stories of the year.
With Naomi Klein, Robert Macfarlane and Barry Lopez tackling issues like the climate emergency, AI, gender bias and tech giants, Ian Sample picks the outstanding books of the year – and finds some hope in them, too.
It might seem counter-intuitive, after 12 months of end-to-end sporting excitement, to pick up a book on the art of pigeon racing, or a travelogue that meanders gently around Flanders trying to understand its peculiar passion for cycling over cobbles – but there were some interesting standouts this year.
This year’s hottest and most hunger-stoking food writing has been in vegetarian and vegan books. As chefs turned away from meat, they also celebrated simplicity, pickling and the joys of cooking for others.
• What have been your favourite books of the year? Let us know in the comments and we may include them in a future roundup.
Source: The Guardian