12 Notable Brooklyn Books from the Last 12 Years

07/16/2015 11:56 AM |


Say what you will about the last dozen years, but don’t say there hasn’t been good stuff to read. Here are 12 books we think stand out from this time in Brooklyn’s history.



Fortress of Solitude
Jonathan Lethem (2003)
This semi-autobiographical novel takes readers on a deep dive into what it was like to grow up in the pre-gentrification Brooklyn of the early 70s. Oh, and there’s a magic ring.


What I Loved
Siri Hustvedt (2003)
Simultaneously managing to engage the themes of art, love, and neuroscience, Hustevdt composed one of the most compelling New York novels we’ve read.


The Namesake
Jhumpa Lahiri (2004)
Lahiri’s debut novel tracks the journey of a Bengali family who have come to America and try to build their lives, but maintain their identities, in this wholly foreign land.


The History of Love
Nicole Krauss (2005)
Krauss captured multiple narrative voices and wove together so many seemingly disparate storylines that this book risked feeling like more novelty than novel, but somehow it all works out in the end.


Then We Came to the End
Joshua Ferris (2007)
Though set in Chicago, any Brooklyn-based office drone can recognize him- or herself in this darkly funny cubicle-set debut novel.


Joseph O’Neill (2008)
This could fairly be called a “9/11 novel;” it could also fairly be called one of the most beautiful meditations on how a rapidly changing world is forever altering our conception of what our society is.


Sag Harbor
Colson Whitehead (2009)
Set in a predominantly African-American part of the Hamptons, Whitehead’s novel beautifully wrestles with issues of race, class, belonging, and life.


A Visit from the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan (2010)
This novel, which reads as much like a collection of short stories, experiments with voice, theme, and medium (one chapter is done in PowerPoint), and is easily one of the most memorable books of the last twelve years.


Sunset Park
Paul Auster (2010)
Consummate Brooklyn author Auster tackles the the era of the Great Recession and gives us an at-times haunting look at how we struggle to recapture that which is fully gone.


The Residue Years
Mitchell S. Jackson (2013)
Jackson’s writing begs you to read at a fast pace, one that matches the harrowing nature of the narrative, which deals with the problems of a mother and son, as seen through the lens of addiction and poverty, race and redemption.


Nobody Is Ever Missing
Catherine Lacey (2014)
In her debut novel, Lacey covers themes of loss, forgiveness, love, and escape. And she does it in some of the most lyrical prose we’ve ever encountered.


Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson (2014)
The beauty of this incredibly moving meditation on Woodson’s childhood in New York and South Carolina will stay with you long after you finish it; it will stay with, or, really, in you forever.