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What I read in 2018: fiction

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Dec. 31st, 2018 | 04:50 pm

My library hold queue is bursting with more, so bigger list in 2019?

As I said in my last post, getting back into fiction was a slow but promising development in 2018. And unlike my non-fiction list, I truly enjoyed all of these titles.

  1. Weike Wang Chemistry: How completely heartbreaking this was! The backdrop is of an enormously successful graduate student that experiences the setbacks that life tends to dole out especially to people in their 20s. She suddenly has to find a way to power through losing most of what passed for stability in her life, and tutoring undergrads becomes de facto therapy. I truly hope she writes prolifically in the future, because this was a major achievement for a debut novel. Like my number 1 non-fiction pick, this is instantly in my all-time favorites list as well.

  2. Andrew Sean Greer Less: Ok, this was also the novel that I saw on many Best of 2018 lists, after it won the Pulitzer. Deserved? Yes! The protagonist is an author in San Francisco, about to turn 50 and still trying to cope with being dumped by his longtime boyfriend. To save face, he needs to invent a reason to be unavailable to attend the ex's wedding, and it manages to be tragic and hilarious at once. The theme of age gaps in relationships was addressed masterfully, I think, as were the peculiarities of how gay men date and marry.

  3. Orhan Pamuk My Name Is Red*: The basic plot synopsis is this: we are in Istanbul in the 16th century when the Sultan employs multiple artists to spend their lives toiling on beautiful and intricate illustrations in books, some until they literally go blind. One of the senior illustrators is murdered near the start, and we must spend the whole novel trying to find out who it was. The suspense is compounded by the shift to a different narrator in every chapter, and I can't imagine how challenging it was to write this way. I don't remember reading anything quite this creative before or since.
  • Lillian Li Number One Chinese Restaurant
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen The Refugees
  • Mat Johnson Pym: A Novel
*Like the nonfiction list, this is the entry that I originally intended to read long ago. In this case, I started and stopped reading it in 2004 and again in 2013, before finally picking it up and rereading the whole thing. Delayed book achievements!
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Comments {2}

Muriel

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from: brittdreams
date: Jan. 1st, 2019 03:40 am (UTC)
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The diversity of the authors you've been reading is wonderful. I'll have to look up Chemistry!

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jonathan

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from: silverthief2
date: Jan. 2nd, 2019 03:35 am (UTC)
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I highly recommend it!

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