Jonathan Sturgeon’s list of the Best Novels of 2014 on Flavorwire starts with an impassioned critique of the way big newspapers create their “Best Of” lists.
The novel is changing. Whether it comforts you or not, literary fiction is shedding its obsession with the page-turner in favor of sophisticated, language-rich novels that are no less readable for being unabashedly smitten with the intersection of life and words.
Many readers page through Best Novels lists in order to expand their reading lists moving forward. They seek out books they might have missed; they argue with the reviewer — in their heads or in the comments section — about what should have been included, or left off. There is so much about novels that is personal reading taste, and that makes “Best Of” lists particularly interesting to read.
Of particular interest on Sturgeon’s list is I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin.
This reflective novel of formation forms a much-needed bridge between “Eastern” and “Western” literature.
The Paying Guests(Virago) was both a subtle inquiry into shifting class and gender relations after the first world war and an operatic crime thriller.
One of the most interesting lists of Best Novels of 2014 this season comes from Hope Wabuke at the Root. Wabuke specifically lists the 15 best novels from Black Authors in 2014, a list which she states represents “the full range of the African Diaspora.” The book from this list that immediately went onto my to-read shelf was Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, a retelling of Snow White that breaks hearts just in its synopsis. This same book is also featured on the best novels list from Mother Jones.
The Best Novels and Graphic Novels list from HeraldNet includes the first graphic novel collection of the new Ms. Marvel character. If you haven’t been keeping up, the mantel of Captain Marvel has passed to Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager. It’s brilliant, and ought to be read by basically everyone.
If you’ve read everything on that list, and are still looking for your personal Best Novel of 2014, or a last minute holiday gift for your reader who has read everything, hit Twitter and search for #weneeddiversebooks or @diversityinya. You’ll find a wide variety of books that you might not have heard of otherwise. After all, the real purpose of the best novels is to broaden our horizons and show us new perspectives.
What are your best novels of 2014?