#2019RoundUp: Best Books

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

And the award goes to...

Saltwater, Jessica Andrews*
Far too often, millennials are looked-down upon for their tendency for excess but, in Saltwater, Jessica Andrews shows that is just an inevitability in their patterns to err on the side of too-much: too much stress, desire, chaos, anxiety… Too much telling us that, to be successful and happy in this world, you need to be more than you are. Andrews expertly focuses on issues that have near-universally plagued us all at one point or another (the desire to carve out our own place in the world, to fit in, for our lives to start and be something bigger than what we are) and, through the vivid and precise detail in every single part of this lucid, raw novel, it is easy to find oneself in its pages.

This Brutal House, Niven Govinden*
This Brutal House is a visceral, unflinching look at marginalisation, poverty, found families and community, in all of their interconnected, complex glory that manages to capture an era that was filled with equal levels of beauty and strength, hate and abuse. And, after breaking my heart and boosting me up in an endless cacophony of unfathomably mixed and raw emotions, it is one that I truly believe will stay with me forever.

Less, Andrew Sean Greer
With sharp wit and charm, Less' eponymous protagonist traverses the globe: France to Germany, India to Morocco; all around the world and back again to find a sense of himself he had no idea had been missing. It is a road-trip novel like no other; grown-up, adventurous, full of potential. No back-alley motels and petrol stations, but each and every country in all of its tangible, vibrant glory. A clear and obvious winner of the Pulitzer.

The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead*
A literary tour-de-force, Colson Whithead's latest masterpiece charts the journey of one black man in a time and school-system that is endlessly geared against him. The Nickel Boys really is an ode to a group of victims that have long been forgotten by the annals of American history and the examination of the sheer power of institutional and community-wide violence. Vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the horrifying (and seemingly easily-made) realities of the past.

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
There is nothing more exciting than New York City and Amor Towles brings all of its flashing lights to life in his truly sparkling debut. Its dazzling pages make for an enrapturing, tangible, contagious image of joie de vivre; of a dolce vita available in no other place on earth. It makes me want to drink martinis, to run down its streets, to throw stress and caution to the wind and live my life as I have always dreamed it to be. To be as alive and glorious as the city itself.

It’s Not About the Burqa, Mariam Khan (ed.)
Most essay collections rise up in a crescendo; voices who have been torn down by the same injustices, who are persecuted by the same experiences, forming a chorus of resistance. It's Not About the Burqa, on the other hand, found its resistance in another place entirely. It draws attention to the way Islamic women cannot be homogenised, merged or standardised; that over a billion voices cannot be condensed into one. It revelled in its heterogeneity; in each voice, so dissimilar and yet still so important and so beautiful, standing in solidarity with those who are so different from themselves.

“Kill the Black One First”, Michael Fuller*
“Kill the Black One First” is a raw, unflinching look at the institutional racism of the British police force from someone who stood at its frontlines for more than three-and-a-half decades. In this vital and moving memoir, Fuller speaks frankly on the pivotal moments of his long, illustrious life: his often-difficult relationship with his Windrush Generation parents, his life growing up in care, his entry into the police force and the realities of policing in a Britain rife with casual racism, racial profiling, and a chronic mistrust of the police in black communities.

#fashionvictim, Amina Akhtar*
In a narrative and humour style that would not be out of place in cult classics like Heathers and Jawbreaker, #fashionvictim perfects black comedy to effortlessly juxtapose the glamorous existence of those style-icons we all follow on Instagram, with truly gruesome scenes of utter spine-tingling gore. And because of that, Akhtar paints a novel that is utterly unique, completely spell-binding and one that fulfils every single one of my deepest, darkest, if-I-lived-in-a-dream-world career aspirations. Only, you know, without all the murder.

My Past is a Foreign Country, Zeba Talkhani*
Some books you read to find yourself, but Zeba Talkhani's utterly majestic memoir was as far from my life as I possibly could have gotten. She traversed the globe - stepped as far out of the box of her pre-determined life as she possibly could have gotten - to find a way of life that she wanted to live. It is an awe-inspiring, brave, utterly exciting tale that will broaden the breadths of my own life forever.

Miracle Creek, Angie Kim*
Miracle Creek is a truly magisterial study of human actions and the things that drive us; of the lies that spiral in our efforts to protect the ones we love. And, by exploring the parameters of good and bad, guilt and innocence, justice and redemption, it artfully sweeps the reader into a riptide of conflicting emotions and assures that the characters that Kim seems to have crafted so effortlessly, will stay in their minds long after they turn the final page.

Head on over to http://bit.ly/2y7JSWV for these books, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

*Thanks to NetGalley and/or the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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