It’s Top Ten Tuesday and this week it’s Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time in 2016.
I thought this list would echo my ‘best book of 2016’ but actually it doesn’t completely (I wonder which book Hag-Seed might dislodge?). Plus, the year isn’t totally over yet is it? I’ve still got at least three weeks of reading time, completely uninterrupted except by Christmas concerts, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, Christmas chat, Christmas office parties, Christmas cooking, Christmas travel, Christmas manic excitement (kids), Christmas meltdowns (me).
Anyway without further ado, this year’s top ten new-to-me authors are:
10. Jennifer Clement (Prayers for the Stolen)
WHY? Jennifer Clement has done a remarkable job in presenting a really engaging narrative, based on interviews with Mexican women, about the impact of the drugs trade and human trafficking. Moreover, she has cleverly woven humour and really likeable characters into the pathos, which means that despite its bleak story, the book is a hugely gratifying read. (See here for my full review).
9. Anthony Doerr (All The Light We Cannot See)
WHY? This book is beautifully crafted. It feels like every word has been especially chosen for its purpose in that sentence and in that paragraph. The language is fluid, and it’s the language that makes the book so easy to consume. It won the Pulitzer Prize last year. If that’s not enough for you, check out my review here for four (other) reasons to read it.
8. Leigh Hobbs (Mr Chicken Goes to London)
WHY? It only look a few months of moving back to Australia to come across Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs, author of Mr Chicken’s exploits (among other things). Mr Chicken really is hilarious. For my kids’ review of this book, click here.
7. Ellen Van Neeran (Heat and Light)
WHY? With Heat and Light, Ellen Van Neerven has created something that is mystical, real, engaging and edifying. She deftly weaves Indigenous heritage into the narratives in a cohesive way, and successfully captures the intersectionalities of race, sex and sexuality. This book and her writing is a total delight, as I explain more fully in my review.
6. Kate Tempest (The Bricks that Built the Houses)
WHY? Kate Tempest is a poet, a musician, a playwrite, a novelist and a bloody genius. I didn’t ever get a chance to write a review of this book, and looking back I’m not sure why (work? kids? Better Call Saul, season 2?). Kate Tempest is surely a prodigy, and if this debut novel is anything to go by, she is going to be around for a while.
5. Han Kang (The Vegetarian)
WHY? The Vegetarian is to vegetarianism what Trainspotting was to heroin. That is, it hardly commends vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice. I really wanted to write a review for this book – the characters, the setting and in particular the writing literally took my breath away – but I still can’t figure out how to sum up this book. Just take my word for it.
4. Jane Harper (The Dry)
WHY? I predicted back in August that The Dry would be one of my top books of the year; quite a call for only 8 months in. (It can get pretty intense here at Words and Leaves). This book is a scorcher. Be wary of reading it on public transport though – you could well miss your stop, as I mentioned in my review here.
3. Elizabeth McKenzie (The Portable Veblen)
WHY? There’s a lot to love about Elizabeth McKenzie’s novel. It’s quirky and entertaining but earnest and warm. It has solid characters, humorous episodes, grizzly moments, sharp social commentary and come-uppance for those who deserve it. Need further convincing? See my full review here.
2. Melissa Lukashenko (Mullumbimby)
WHY? I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters, the writing and the story came to a surprisingly tense climax that was a real page-turner. Melissa Lucaschenko has delivered a book that is smart, entertaining and culturally educative – as well as being full of warmth and humour. Want to know more? Read my full review here.
1. Charlotte Wood (The Natural Way of Things)
WHY? Oh my god I loved this book. The Natural Way of Things is unlike any other book I’ve read. Charlotte Wood has taken the concept of misogyny and has constructed a literal monument out of it. She has breathed life into it and given it a beating heart and working lungs. I can’t believe this book didn’t win more international prizes, although it did scoop a tonne of Aussie accolades. You can read my gushing review here.
**Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fiendishly popular The Broke and the Bookish. You should check out their musings…