As visitors to this blog know, I often write about novels that date back decades or centuries. But I also read some recent fiction, and thought I’d list my favorite novels published since 2010 — some literary, others mass-audience-oriented. Not necessarily the best novels of the past nine years (that’s so subjective anyway) but my personal favorites. Then I’ll ask for yours!
Here they are, in reverse order from my 12th to 1st picks:
12. Three Stations (2010), Martin Cruz Smith: The seventh of the mostly Russia-set Arkady Renko novels that started with 1981’s Gorky Park isn’t the best of the series, but it might be the most poignant. The book begins with the horrifying scenario of a baby stolen, after which investigator Renko investigates — with some important help.
11. Everybody’s Fool (2016), Richard Russo: This sequel isn’t as good as the 1993-published Nobody’s Fool, but is still pretty darn good. The funny, unambitious, not-so-healthy, basically good-hearted Sully is a great character creation.
10. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion (2013), Fannie Flagg: The author once again finds the perfect balance between sentimentality and tough-minded storytelling in this tale that flashes back to women pilots of World War II.
9. Flight Behavior (2012), Barbara Kingsolver: A vivid combination of a cry against climate change and a chronicle of a brainy rural woman’s efforts to improve her life.
8. The Lowland (2013), Jhumpa Lahiri: The author skillfully mixes politics with dysfunctional but at times inspiring family dynamics. A revolutionary dies, his brother marries the deceased’s pregnant wife, that marriage takes an unusual turn, etc.
7. The Luminaries (2013), Eleanor Catton: A novel set during the 1860s New Zealand gold rush that’s a bit too long but impressive and innovative. Catton was only in her 20s when she wrote it!
6. Freedom (2010), Jonathan Franzen: An overhyped novel, but still a compelling and sweeping view of the U.S. via its well-drawn characters and its takes on marriage, war, the environment, and more.
5. 61 Hours (2010), Lee Child: I could name several of Child’s page-turning Jack Reacher novels from our current decade, but this one is my favorite. Roaming, justice-supporting loner Reacher travels to snowy South Dakota, and mayhem ensues.
4. Cormoran Strike series — The Cuckoo’s Calling and three subsequent novels (2013, 2014, 2015, 2018), J.K. Rowling writing as “Robert Galbraith”: Private sleuth Strike and his assistant-promoted-to-investigative-partner Robin Ellacott are VERY charismatic characters who bravely and smartly solve murders while dealing with complicated private lives and feelings for each other.
3. So Much for That (2010), Lionel Shriver: Her book is both a brilliant screed against the problematic U.S. health-care system and a story of several memorable characters — topped off with one of the best endings I’ve read in recent years.
2. The Goldfinch (2013), Donna Tartt: The current movie version didn’t get great reviews, but the long novel is riveting. After a museum explosion kills his mother and others, 13-year-old Theo Decker dazedly leaves with the famous painting “The Goldfinch” — and a fascinating life unfolds into his adult years. (The above photo shows Theo and his mom just before the explosion.)
1. Big Little Lies (2014), Liane Moriarty: This superbly written novel, which spawned the popular TV series, focuses on three unforgettable suburban women whose children attend the same Australian school — and the abusive bank executive married to one of the women. Dead serious, yet with plenty of humor.
Hmm…2010 and 2013 were especially nice years for novels I liked! 🙂 And while some people feel modern literature isn’t as appealing as various long-ago classics, there were some pretty darn good novels published during the past nine years. Your favorites from this decade?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — which includes discussion of climate-strike protests in my town — is here.