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100 Notable Books of the Year




ABSURDISTAN. By Gary Shteyngart. (Random House, $24.95.) A young American-educated Russian with an ill-gotten fortune waits to return to the United States in this darkly comic novel.


AFTER THIS. By Alice McDermott. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) In her effectively elliptical novel, McDermott continues to scrutinize the lives of Irish Catholics on Long Island.

AGAINST THE DAY. By Thomas Pynchon. (Penguin Press, $35.) In Pynchon's globe-trotting tale, set (mostly) on the eve of World War I, anarchic Americans collide with quasi-psychic European hedonists and a crew of boyish balloonists, anticipating the shocks to come.

ALENTEJO BLUE. By Monica Ali. (Scribner, $24.) Ali's second novel revolves around the inhabitants of a southern Portuguese village.

ALL AUNT HAGAR'S CHILDREN. By Edward P. Jones. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $25.95.) Several characters from Jones's first story collection return in this one, set mostly in Washington, D.C.

APEX HIDES THE HURT. By Colson Whitehead. (Doubleday. $22.95.) In this parablelike novel, a commercial "nomenclature consultant" is hired to name a Midwestern town, and his task turns into an exploration of the corruption of language.

ARTHUR AND GEORGE. By Julian Barnes. (Knopf, $24.95.) A metaphysical mystery starring Arthur (Conan Doyle), spiritual detective.

AVERNO. By Louise Glück. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.) Poems inspired by the underworld of myth confront our most intractable fears.

BEASTS OF NO NATION. By Uzodinma Iweala. (HarperCollins, $16.95.) A first novel set in an unidentified West African land; its hero finds himself corrupted by contagious violence.

BLACK SWAN GREEN. By David Mitchell. (Random House, $23.95.) The magic of being a 13-year-old boy and exploring the world intersects, eventually, with the trials of real life.

BROOKLAND. By Emily Barton. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A tale of 18th-century sisters, one with a dream to bridge the East River.

COLLECTED POEMS, 1947-1997. By Allen Ginsberg. (HarperCollins, $39.95.) A hefty, brilliant volume that shows Ginsberg (1926-97) to be not only a legendary protest writer but also a lyric poet preoccupied with passion, place and fate.

THE COLLECTED STORIES OF AMY HEMPEL. (Scribner, $27.50.) The themes of Hempel's unsettling and blackly funny vignettes — mortality, desire and fear of human connection — are threaded with only the slenderest hopes of redemption.

THE DEAD FISH MUSEUM. By Charles D'Ambrosio. (Knopf, $22.) Stories of understated realism centered on the charged relations between fathers and sons, drifters or workers.

DIGGING TO AMERICA. By Anne Tyler. (Knopf, $24.95.) In Tyler's new novel, two families — one recently arrived Iranian-American, the other all-American — begin an unlikely friendship after both adopt Korean babies.

THE DISSIDENT. By Nell Freudenberger. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $25.95.) A Chinese artist is a guest of a dysfunctional Beverly Hills family in this debut novel of global misunderstanding.

THE DREAM LIFE OF SUKHANOV. By Olga Grushin. (Putnam, $24.95.) A Soviet artist sacrifices his talent for the party in this first novel.

EAT THE DOCUMENT. By Dana Spiotta. (Scribner, $24.) After years underground, '70s radicals who are haunted by the past and insecure in the present reunite and face their crime's consequences.

THE ECHO MAKER. By Richard Powers. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) This novel's heroine tries to help her brother after a mysterious truck crash leaves him with a rare form of amnesia.

THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN. By Claire Messud. (Knopf, $25.) The shocks of 9/11 disrupt the privileged lives of a group of young urban media types in this nimble, satirically chiding novel.

EVERYMAN. By Philip Roth. (Houghton Mifflin, $24.) A nameless protagonist grapples with aging, physical decline and impending death in this slender, elegant novel.

FORGETFULNESS. By Ward Just. (Houghton Mifflin, $25.) In this novel, one of Just's best, a small-time American spy uneasily revisits his earlier life after his French wife is murdered.

GALLATIN CANYON: Stories. By Thomas McGuane. (Knopf, $24.) McGuane's portraits of American manhood have the capacity to astonish.

GATE OF THE SUN. By Elias Khoury. Translated by Humphrey Davies. (Archipelago, $26.) A rich novel of the Arab experience, full of pain but tempered by hope.

GOLDEN COUNTRY. By Jennifer Gilmore. (Scribner, $25.) In this debut novel, two Jewish families seek material success and social acceptance across the decades of the 20th century.

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN. By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Knopf, $24.95.) A novel about sisters caught in the horrors of the Biafran War.

HIGH LONESOME: New & Selected Stories, 1966-2006. By Joyce Carol Oates. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $34.95.) A coherent overview of Oates's work, mixing classic with new stories.

THE INHABITED WORLD. By David Long. (Houghton Mifflin, $23.) This novel's hero, a ghost, looks back ruefully on his suicide and longs to help a woman survive her own despair.

THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS. By Kiran Desai. (Atlantic Monthly, $24.) The poised story, set in northern India, of disparate characters united by the toxic legacy of colonialism.

INTUITION. By Allegra Goodman. (Dial, $25.) A cancer researcher's dubious finding sets off a tidal wave that carries many people away.

THE KEEP. By Jennifer Egan. (Knopf, $23.95.) Old grievances drive the plot of this novel, set in a castle and a prison. Egan deftly weaves threads of sordid realism and John Fowles-like magic.

LAST EVENINGS ON EARTH. By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Chris Andrews. (New Directions, $23.95.) The Pinochet years haunt these stories by a Chilean writer who died in 2003.

THE LAY OF THE LAND. By Richard Ford. (Knopf, $26.95.) Frank Bascombe, the mundane hero of Ford's earlier novels "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day," finds himself afflicted with intimations of mortality.

LISEY'S STORY. By Stephen King. (Scribner, $28.) In this haunting love story, the widow of a celebrated writer takes up arms against a murderous stalker in this world and a blood-hungry beast in the world beyond.

NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS, 1964-2006. By Ishmael Reed. (Carroll & Graf, $25.95.) Poetry of politics and diversity, suffused with humor.

OLD FILTH. By Jane Gardam. (Europa, paper, $14.95.) The fictional tale of a Raj orphan whose acronymic nickname (from "Failed in London, Try Hong Kong") tells only part of the story.

ONE GOOD TURN. By Kate Atkinson. (Little, Brown, $24.99.) An Edinburgh road-rage incident sets off a string of murders in this deft thriller.

ONLY REVOLUTIONS. By Mark Z. Danielewski. (Pantheon, $26.) A structurally experimental road-trip novel with a road like a Möbius strip.

THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ISLAND. By Michel Houellebecq. Translated by Gavin Bowd. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this new novel from the French author, a radical libertine becomes the progenitor of a line of clones.

THE ROAD. By Cormac McCarthy. (Knopf, $24.) A man and his son travel across a post-apocalyptic landscape in this terrifying parable.

SKINNER'S DRIFT. By Lisa Fugard. (Scribner, $25.) A white farm family is the foreground of this novel; behind it, the sins of South Africa.

SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS. By Marisha Pessl. (Viking, $25.95.) A motherless waif whose life has been shaped by road trips with her father joins a circle of students around a charismatic teacher with a tragic secret.

THE STORIES OF MARY GORDON. By Mary Gordon. (Pantheon, $26.) Motifs from Gordon's life, particularly the pain of childhood grief, resurface throughout this collection

STRONG IS YOUR HOLD. By Galway Kinnell. (Houghton Mifflin, $25.) Kinnell's first collection of new poems in more than a decade revisits themes of marriage, friendship and death, with long, loose lines reminiscent of Whitman.

SUITE FRANÇAISE. By Irène Némirovsky. Translated by Sandra Smith. (Knopf, $25.) Before dying at Auschwitz in 1942, Némirovsky wrote these two exquisitely shaped novellas about France in defeat. But the manuscripts came to light only in the late '90s.

TERRORIST. By John Updike. (Knopf, $24.95.) Updike's latest novel knits together preoccupations that have been with him for some 50 years — sex, death, religion — as an American high school boy, half-Irish, half-Egyptian, is intoxicated by Islamic radicalism.

THE TRANSLATOR. By Leila Aboulela. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic; paper, $12.) A Muslim widow's love for an agnostic Scottish Islamic scholar allows her to nourish a hope for happiness.

TWILIGHT OF THE SUPERHEROES. By Deborah Eisenberg. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) A contemporary master of the short story leavens familial angst with mordant humor in her fifth collection in 20 years.

THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT. By Heidi Julavits. (Doubleday, $24.95.) A teenage girl is either a victim or a false accuser in this dark-humored novel of psychoanalysis and prep school angst.

A WOMAN IN JERUSALEM. By A. B. Yehoshua. Translated by Hillel Halkin. (Harcourt, $25.) This novel's hero journeys to return a woman's body to her family in a remote former Soviet Republic.


THE AFTERLIFE. By Donald Antrim. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $21.) Antrim's memoir reckons with his complicated grief at the death of his emotionally volatile, alcoholic mother.

AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. By Francis Fukuyama. (Yale University, $25.) Parting ways with fellow neocons, Fukuyama censures their blunders and those of the Bush administration, and offers advice for the future.

ANDREW CARNEGIE. By David Nasaw. (Penguin Press, $35.) Nasaw's colorful biography reveals a far from conventional capitalist.

AT CANAAN'S EDGE: America in the King Years, 1965-68. By Taylor Branch. (Simon & Schuster, $35.) The third volume, remarkable for its breadth and detail, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's history of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

AVA GARDNER: "Love Is Nothing." By Lee Server. (St. Martin's, $29.95.) A fond reckoning of her marriages, affairs, friendships and movies.

THE BLIND SIDE: Evolution of a Game. By Michael Lewis. (Norton, $24.95.) From the mean streets to salvation by football: a schoolboy's story.

BLOOD AND THUNDER: An Epic of the American West. By Hampton Sides. (Doubleday, $26.95.) A history of this country's brutal Westward expansion, with Kit Carson at its center.

BLUE ARABESQUE: A Search for the Sublime. By Patricia Hampl. (Harcourt, $22.) A memoir of Hampl's quest for art with transcendent power.

CLEMENTE: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero. By David Maraniss. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) A Pulitzer Prize winner whose previous subjects have included Vince Lombardi and Bill Clinton turns to baseball's first Latino superstar.

CONSIDER THE LOBSTER: And Other Essays. By David Foster Wallace. (Little, Brown, $25.95.) Magazine articles with a moral framework.

THE COURTIER AND THE HERETIC: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World. By Matthew Stewart. (Norton, $25.95.) An unlikely page-turner about a 17th-century metaphysical duel, fought in deceit and intrigue, that continues to this day.

THE DISCOMFORT ZONE: A Personal History. By Jonathan Franzen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.) Essays by the author of "The Corrections" focus on formative experiences of his youth.

EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. By Elizabeth Gilbert. (Viking, $24.95.) A charismatic but troubled traveler seeks a balance of pleasure and devotion — and finds romance.

FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH: A Memoir. By Danielle Trussoni. (Holt, $23.) With affection, respect and humor, a daughter tries to make sense of the demons her father brought home from the Vietcong's subterranean labyrinth.

FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. By Thomas E. Ricks. (Penguin Press, $27.95.) A comprehensive account, by a veteran Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post, of how a bungled occupation fed a ballooning insurgency.

FIELD NOTES FROM A CATASTROPHE: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. By Elizabeth Kolbert. (Bloomsbury, $22.95.) A global tour of the evidence, with scientists the author meets along the way doing most of the talking.

FLAUBERT: A Biography. By Frederick Brown. (Little, Brown, $35.) The man behind "Madame Bovary" is brought to life as a romantic and a realist, a dreamer and a debunker.

FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic. By Alison Bechdel. (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95.) A lesbian comes to terms with the life and death of her closeted gay father in this graphic memoir.

THE GHOST MAP: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. By Steven Johnson. (Riverhead, $26.95.) How John Snow answered the riddle of cholera in 1854.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. By Douglas Brinkley. (Morrow/ HarperCollins, $29.95.) A historian's account of the horrors spawned by the infamous storm, many of them man-made.

THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina. By Frank Rich. (Penguin Press, $25.95.) The Times columnist indicts the Bush administration's approach to message management.

HAPPINESS: A History. By Darrin M. McMahon. (Atlantic Monthly, $27.50.) A tour of Western philosophy and its efforts to understand that sought-after yet most elusive of states.

HEAT: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. By Bill Buford. (Knopf, $25.95.) The former New Yorker fiction editor's life-altering culinary apprenticeship at Babbo and beyond.

IRAN AWAKENING: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. By Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni. (Random House, $24.95.) The Nobel laureate tells her life story, from growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran to taking on the authorities as a foremost defender of human rights.

JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. By Julie Phillips. (St. Martin's, $27.95.) A biography of the complex woman who, as James Tiptree Jr., found in science fiction the perfect genre for telling her own story.

JANE GOODALL: The Woman Who Redefined Man. By Dale Peterson. (Houghton Mifflin, $35.) A meticulous portrait of the pioneering researcher whose years of observing chimpanzees changed the way we see our fellow primates.

KATE: The Woman Who Was Hepburn. By William J. Mann. (Holt, $30.) Mann's biography takes some complicated sexual algebra into account.

LEE MILLER: A Life. By Carolyn Burke. (Knopf, $35.) She was a muse to artists like Man Ray, and an artist herself, photographing the horror of war; that work, though, was ultimately her undoing.

THE LOOMING TOWER: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. By Lawrence Wright. (Knopf, $27.95.) How a few men mounted a catastrophic assault on America, even as another group of men and women tried desperately to stop it.

THE LOST: A Search for Six of Six Million. By Daniel Mendelsohn. (HarperCollins, $27.95.) Grappling with the Holocaust in both its personal and geopolitical dimensions, Mendelsohn reconstructs the story of his great-uncle's family.

MAYFLOWER: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. By Nathaniel Philbrick. (Viking, $29.95.) Philbrick's vivid account of the earnest band of English men and women known as America's founders offers perspectives of both the Pilgrims and the Indians.

THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. By Debby Applegate. (Doubleday, $27.95.) A rich portrait of the 19th-century Protestant reformer renowned for his preaching — and for an adultery scandal.

THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A Natural History of Four Meals. By Michael Pollan. (Penguin Press, $26.95.) Pollan embarks on four separate eating adventures, each of which begins at the very beginning — in the soil — and ends with a cooked, finished meal.

ORACLE BONES: A Journey Between China's Past and Present. By Peter Hessler. (HarperCollins, $26.95.) The New Yorker's Beijing correspondent describes a country in constant motion and reveals its historical underpinning.

THE PLACES IN BETWEEN. By Rory Stewart. (Harvest/Harcourt, paper, $14.) The author recounts his walk across Afghanistan, in the dead of winter.

PRISONERS: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide. By Jeffrey Goldberg. (Knopf, $25.) The one-sided friendship of a onetime Israeli immigrant and a onetime Palestinian prisoner.

PROGRAMMING THE UNIVERSE: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos. By Seth Lloyd. (Knopf, $25.95.) An M.I.T. professor seeks to explain the fundamental workings of the universe by equating it with a new device called a quantum computer.

QUEEN OF FASHION: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. By Caroline Weber. (Holt, $27.50.) Weber suggests that the queen miscalculated in dressing to project an image of power.

READING LIKE A WRITER: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. By Francine Prose. (HarperCollins, $23.95.) How to read with writerly sensitivity, with reference to the masters.

REDEMPTION: The Last Battle of the Civil War. By Nicholas Lemann. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) The story of the demise of Reconstruction in Mississippi, retold in all its terrible gore.

SELF-MADE MAN: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again. By Norah Vincent. (Viking, $24.95.) An artful journalist cross-dresses to learn otherwise unavailable truths.

STATE OF DENIAL. By Bob Woodward. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) Part 3 of the "Bush at War" cycle, by the longtime Washington Post reporter and editor, describes the inept conduct of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

STRANGE PIECE OF PARADISE. By Terri Jentz. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Jentz's enraging account of her search for a maniac who viciously attacked her with an ax in 1977.

SWEET AND LOW: A Family Story. By Rich Cohen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A disinherited member of the Sweet'N Low clan digs up dirt.

TEMPTATIONS OF THE WEST: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond. By Pankaj Mishra. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) The struggle of ancient societies to define themselves as Western influences encroach.

THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW: A Memoir. By Robert Hughes. (Knopf, $27.95.) Writing after a near-fatal car crash, the Australian art critic describes his formative years and the evolution of his craft.

UNCOMMON CARRIERS. By John McPhee. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) On-the-job portraits of men who drive big transport machines.

THE UNITED STATES OF ARUGULA: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. By David Kamp. (Broadway, $26.) Personalities from Julia Child to Emeril Lagasse drive this lively history of the postwar revolution in American gastronomy.

THE WAR OF THE WORLD: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. By Niall Ferguson. (Penguin Press, $35.) A panoramic moral analysis of an age of military-industrial slaughter.

THE WORST HARD TIME: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. By Timothy Egan. (Houghton Mifflin, $28.) What happened to those who stayed put in the 1930s while the very earth itself blew away.

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