Well, At Least There Was Good Stuff to Read: The Books of the Decade

12/29/2009 1:00 PM |


Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami (Knopf)
Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis (Knopf)
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf)
Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, by Dean Bakopoulos (Harcourt)
Indecision, by Benjamin Kunkel (Random House)
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith (Penguin)
Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon)
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)

You May Have Missed:
Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link (Small Beer Press)
Last Night, by James Salter (Knopf)
The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai (Atlantic Monthly Press)


Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl (Viking)
Absurdistan, by Gary Shteyngart (Random House)
Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin)
Apex Hides the Hurt, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
The Dead Fish Museum, by Charles D’Ambrosio (Knopf)
The Keep, by Jennifer Egan (Knopf)
The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud (Knopf)
Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf)
Trouble, by Patrick Somerville (Vintage)
The View From the Seventh Layer, by Kevin Brockmeier (Knopf)

You May Have Missed:
Nice Big American Baby, by Judy Budnitz (Knopf)
Twilight of the Superheroes, by Deborah Eisenberg (FSG)


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz (Riverhead)
Cheating at Canasta, by William Trevor (Viking)
Falling Man, by Don DeLillo (Scribner)
Like You’d Understand Anyway: Stories, by Jim Shepard (Knopf)
Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, translated by Anne Born (Graywolf)
The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer (FSG)
The View from Castle Rock, by Alice Munro (Knopf)

You May Have Missed:
Delirium, by Laura Restrepo, translated by Natasha Wimmer (Nan A. Talese)
African Psycho, by Alain Mabanckou, translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley (Soft Skull)
Refresh, Refresh, by Benjamin Percy (Graywolf)
The Interloper, by Antoine Wilson (Handsel Books)
God Is Dead, by Ron Curie Jr. (Penguin)
Fires, by Nick Antosca (Impetus Press)


Beijing Coma, by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew (FSG)
The Lazarus Project, by Aleksandar Hemon (Riverhead)
Lush Life, by Richard Price (FSG)
The Boat, by Nam Le (Knopf)
2666, by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer (FSG)
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf)

You Might Have Missed:
In a Bear’s Eye, by Yannick Murphy (Dzanc Books)
All Over, by Roy Kesey (Dzanc Books)
Hotel Crystal, by Olivier Rolin, translated by Jane Kuntz (Dalkey Archive)
Shelter Half, by Carol Bly (Holy Cow! Press)
All About Lulu, by Jonathan Evison (Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint)
Mafeking Road and Other Stories, by Herman Charles Bosman (Archipelago Books)


The Cradle, by Patrick Somerville (Little, Brown)
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore (Knopf)
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower (FSG)
Once the Shore, by Paul Yoon (Saraband)
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese)
Delicate Edible Birds, by Lauren Groff (Voice)

You Might Have Missed:
Death in Spring, by Merce Rodoreda, translated by Martha Tennent (Open Letter)
The Mighty Angel, by Jerzy Pilch, translated by Bill Johnston (Open Letter)
Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, by Lydia Peelle (Harper)

16 Comment

  • Dan Brown does, in fact, suck. Jonathan Franzen, Philip Roth, and Wells Tower, not so much. In fact, not at all.

    Well done.

  • Great list. Glad to see some books that went under the radar here “All about Lulu” by Evison, & “Mighty Angel” by Pilch. I read and enjoyed so many books on this list that I think I might go back and try a couple that I skipped originally.

    I think that 50 years from now Pynchon will be remembered for first of all ‘Inherent Vice’, so I would have included it.

    Also, I do think that ‘No Country for Old Men’ was better than the “Road” which is missing, but in my mind they were published like a 1-2 punch and read like they are two halves of a single book.

    Lastly, you have several acknowledged masters here who are dabbling in genres. Could not a genre writer like Dennis Lehane and his ‘Mystic River’ be considered for this list?

  • Thanks for the fun and interesting list — always good to discover those writers I do not know. Eisenberg rocks and I’m glad to see her story collection in your line-up. Quick question: isn’t Egger’s book a memoir?

  • Thanks for the fun and interesting list — always good to discover those writers I do not know. Eisenberg is a master and I’m glad to see her story collection in your line-up. Quick question: isn’t Egger’s book a memoir?

  • Would have liked to have seen something from Haruki Murakami – perhaps Kafka On the Shore – though I prefer Windup Bird Chronicle. Dan Brown is ok, for fluff – honestly, I thought Angels & Demons was a good read – just don’t see the movies…

  • Your website is very good, allow me to comment coupons kohls
    dsw coupons, kohls coupons 

  • Why do you always ignore the great novels written and published in Africa?
    So any book not on the New York Times Bestsellers List is not a great book?
    Western narrow mindedness is sheer intellectual ignorance.

  • Wow cannot believe I haven’t read any of these books.I know I have some pretty obscure taste in books but there has to be something in these books that makes them so widely read.I’ve actually always meant to read white teeth,must get around to it,nice to have a list to work through though.

  • Mjust found this article @ http://www.kizlarsoruyor.com surprised as kafka on the shore is my favorite book

  • Thanks for this list

  • Some of these are great books. Thanks for sharing!

  • Here’s some to add to “You Might Have Missed”, for the entire decade:

    Books by Canadian and Australian authors (aside from the obligatory nod to authors like Atwood and Munro). American-centered lists like this should simply call it what it is: American books of the decade, with a few British and books-in-translation thrown in to make the list look international. I mean, Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis? Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon? A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore? Are these names here because, well, they’re authors who’ve had successes and therefor get put in because they’re recognizable names?

    There’s nothing wrong with lists, but please call a spade a spade.

  • a great list, even stumbling across the article several years later it still gives some great choices of books to read. I’ll check you’re blog for further updates!!
    Many thanks, Dave R – http://www.jdandj.com

  • We are the Top SEO Company in Singapore. Get your business on top of Search Engine and get real organic traffic. We are the one of Top SEO Companies in Singapore

  • Thanks for sharing such a source of information and knowledge. The information does not grow old so these books will be read by generations and geneartions