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Donna TarttFRED R. CONRAD/The New York Times

The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)

A masterly novel about friendship, objects and how we live now, Tartt's third novel (following The Secret History and The Little Friend) is at once deeply traditional and extremely fresh. One of the year's very best books.

The Son

By Philipp Meyer (HarperCollins)

Meyer, author of the celebrated novel American Rust, returns with an epic tale of Texas, in which the state's history and development stand in as a symbol of the engines of America itself. Violent and unforgettable.

Dissident Gardens

By Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday)

One of this year's Giller prize jurors, Lethem also delivered this very good new novel documenting the history of a leftist American family inspired in part by his early exposure to radical politics and protest.

The Lowland

By Jhumpi Lahiri (Knopf Canada)

Lahiri, known as an elegant chronicler of immigrant life in America, has set The Lowland in Rhode Island and Calcutta. Siblings are divided by politics and then by geography – and then by a tragedy more profound still.

Traveling Sprinkler

By Nicholson Baker (Blue Rider Press)

Paul Chowder, Baker's likeable alter ego from The Anthologist, returns. With the trowel of humour, Baker excavates the moist earth of human nature, finding the peaty darkness that lies beneath.

The Tenth of December

By George Saunders (Random House)

In 2013, Saunders, long beloved by aficionados of fine fiction, finally had his breakthrough year. These humane, funny/sad stories show the author at his perceptive, devastating best.


By Colum McCann (HarperCollins)

McCann, whose previous novel, Let the Great World Spin, was an enormous hit, returns with this continent-hopping novel about Frederick Douglass, early aviation, and the Irish peace process. Sounds like a lot, and it is, but you're in the hands of a master.


By Rupert Thomson (Granta)

Each of Rupert Thomson's excellent novels is drastically different from those that have come before, and this tale of a intrigue and art set in 17th-century Florence is no different. Thomson should be better known than he is.

The Cuckoo's Calling

By Robert Galbraith (Mulholland)

In one of publishing's most thrilling moments this year, Robert Galbraith, author of this well-received but largely unread thriller, was revealed to be none other than J.K. Rowling. The book, while far from the halls of Hogwarts, doesn't disappoint.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman (William Morrow)

Drawing from the wellspring of myth, Gaiman blends cozy English domesticity with the unsettling possibility of other dimensions that contain shape-shifting evil forces. A bittersweet ode to the end of innocence.

Life After Life

By Kate Atkinson (Bond Street)

What would you do it you could do it all over again? In Kate Atkinson's latest, a departure from her Jackson Brodie mysteries, a life is lived again and again, posing important questions about how a person should be.

The Whispering Muse

By Sjon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The latest novel by this Icelandic master to be translated into English, The Whispering Muse is an ideal entry point to the bizarre, Borgesian world of Sjon.

And the Mountains Echoed

By Khaled Hosseini (Viking Canada)

Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and one of the world's most successful fiction writers, expands his reach in this new book, documenting the thorny twists and turns of family entanglements across continents.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

By Anthony Marra (Random House Canada)

From a gifted young writer comes this novel set against the backdrop of the Chechen war, which arrived with incredible buzz and lives up to the hype.

The Rosie Project

By Graeme Simsion (HarperCollins)

Simsion's romantic comedy is a sheer delight, the story of a man obsessed with finding the perfect mate who learns the error of his scientific ways. Funny and tender and surprisingly insightful.


By Rachel Joyce (Bond Street)

For young Byron Hemmings, two seconds contain limitless possibilities. Class differences and their strictures are at the heart of this dark followup to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

The Flamethrowers

By Rachel Kushner (Scribner)

In confident, lean prose, Kushner has penned a novel of exhilaration – the exhilaration of New York in the 70s, of motorcycle racing, of a certain strain of Italian politics. Heralded as a new American classic.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

By Karen Russell (Knopf)

A collection of weirdly wonderful short stories from one of America's best young writers, Karen Russell, the author of Swamplandia! The title story alone is worth the price of admission.


By Stephen King (Hard Case)

In a year when King dominated the bestseller lists with the mediocre Doctor Sleep, this should be the real takeaway, a sweet, melancholic ode to youth and its inevitable demise set at a possibly haunted amusement park.

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