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My 10 Favorite Reads of 2022
Fresh for lucky Friday the 13th
An alphabetized list, brought to you because Jean King Gogolin asked… And excepting authors I personally know well. What are yours?
Activities of Daily Living by Lisa Hsiao Chen
A novel about time, art, and what makes a life. I honestly need to read this novel many times over in order to fully appreciate the wonderful complexity of Chen’s mind, guiding us though many time periods, settings, and experiences. Get ready to feast on the most tender contemplation of why and who we are.
Brood by Jackie Polzin
Beautifully simple with a firm, lyrical touch. Brood tells the story of one woman’s greatest loss by concentrating on something else entirely: her slowly dwindling brood of chickens. Misdirection has never felt so convincing and true when it comes to grief and the small, daily tasks that carry us as we try to climb our way out of it.
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
A swirl of jumping timelines and perspective, this mother/daughter story will challenge your ideas about structure and convince you that allowing a character’s range of memory to determine what comes next is often the best choice—if you can channel your character enough to do it.
Fight Night by Miriam Toews
What can Toews not do? Every one of her novels feels shockingly different and always refreshing. My favorite continues to be All My Puny Sorrows, but the grandmother’s monologue during a cross-country trip with her granddaughter here will break your heart. The novel’s humor is peculiar and beguiling, the family dynamics impossible and aching with love, and the multi-voiced narration pitch-perfect.
Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang
The deadpan voice is addictive. The humor surprising and fresh. All this while the novel deals with the catatonic effects of grief and a world-wide health crisis. No one is okay, but Joan makes it feel okay.
The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams
Possibly the smartest, wittiest novel I’ve read in years. Astonishing. Told in two parallel points of view following two very different timelines. If you’re a fan of word play (or simply words), you’ll want to swim in this book and never leave it.
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
A gorgeous, gritty, and wonderfully suspenseful multiple point of view novel, one that delves honestly and humanely into the mind of a serial killer but gives even more territory to his victims and their families. If you’re trying to write a novel that interweaves long and short time from several perspectives, this is the perfect example of getting it right.
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
Strange, haunting, and addictive. The novel runs on two parallel points of view telling the story of two separate but parallel plot lines, one that proceeds the other in time, though the novel makes them seem synchronous. The result is a love story that defines expectations and tests the usual “till death do us part” promise of a marriage.
This Is Happiness by Niall Williams
Why hadn’t I read Niall Williams before? The voice is so rich, so comforting, full of humor and loss and place. And though it might seem lightly plotted, the novel’s structure and solid through-line of desire, passed from one periphery character to the protagonist, is brilliantly accomplished. Read this novel and then read all his others.
Trust by Hernan Diaz
The same story from three very different points of view. Which do you trust? The organization of the book tells you, but each addition complicates, renews, and stretches the story in ways you’d never guess. A perfect example of the power of subjectivity and authorial intention.