2021 was a year full of literary adventures full of surprises, writers of tremendous ambition, inventive skills and experimentation with form. Some books created a very deep impact on me and there were many that were good but quite honestly forgettable. So here are the ten books that impressed me the most (in no particular order)
Cal Flyn’s ISLANDS OF ABANDONMENT was my favourite non fiction title of the year which really surprised me with its Optimistic Nature writing.
Daisy Lafarge’s debut PAUL is a beautifully written novel with a dense, deep and visceral account of a young woman’s toxic relationship on a holiday in Southern France.
Both Booker International Prize and Booker Prize winners were truly outstanding and deserving of their work. David Diop’s AT NIGHT ALL BLOOD IS BLACK with the most lyrical and rhythmic translation by Anna Moschovakis is a harrowing portrait of madness in war. Damon Galgut’s THE PROMISE is a master of form and really pushes the form in new ways with a story of a white South African family over a decade.
Sally Rooney returned this year with her incredible new novel BEAUTIFUL WORLD, WHERE ARE YOU, no one can write about contemporary relationships like her.
Nadifa Mohamed’s historical novel THE FORTUNE MEN tells the story of miscarriage of justice in Cardiff, which tackles really important issues of racism and injustice.
Out of all the memoirs Alice Hattrick’s deeply personal memoir ILL FEELINGS about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome stood out, which is remarkably beautifully written.
Danish writer Olga Ravn’s science fiction novel THE EMPLOYEES, translated by Martin Aitken is my favourite discovery of 2021. It’s an incredibly moving novel, truly unlike anything else.
German writer Judith Schalansky’s AN INVENTORY OF LOSSES, amazingly translated by Jackie Smith, is truly a cabinet of curiosities as in a way it looks at loss and change in a very eloquent way.
And finally Rachel Cusk’s novel SECOND PLACE is a masterwork. Her words are unlike anyone else.