Everything I’ve read in 2016, and links to where I’ve written about it.

103. Hwang Jungeun, One Hundred Shadows (South Korea, 2010/6). A brittle tale of love trying to hang on while even shadows float free. [***]

102. Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk (England, 2014). Non-fiction: memoir of the author’s year training a goshawk after the death of her father. [***]

101. Robert Seethaler, The Tobacconist (Austria, 2012/6).

100. Frédéric Dard, Crush (France, 1959/2016). Splendidly twisty psychological thriller about a young woman drawn to a mysterious couple. [***]

99. Linda Stift, The Empress and the Cake (Austria, 2007/16). [****]

98. Marie Sizun, Her Father’s Daughter (France, 2005/16). A tale of a daughter getting to know her father, and the mysteries of the adult world as seen by a child. [****]

97. Stefan Zweig, A Game of Chess and Other Stories (Austria, 2016). Stories of dark secrets hidden beneath the everyday. [****]

96. Yannick Hill, Versailles (England, 2016). Lost in a social network of glass and stone. [****]

95. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (Zimbabwe, 2015). Another hit novel that pretty much left me cold. [**]

94. Rachel Cusk, Transit (England, 2016). Sequel to Outline: the protagonist continues to search for herself by talking to others. [***]

93. Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (Nigeria/England, 2016). An old woman’s life is changed by a fall, and we see how hard it is to truly know other people. [****]

92. Mike McCormack, Solar Bones (Ireland, 2016). The fluid thoughts of a revenant. [****]

91. Daphne du Maurier, The House on the Strand (England, 1969). Re-read: a man opens a window into the past, and becomes obsessed with what he witnesses. [****]

90. Nikesh Shukla (ed.), The Good Immigrant (2016). Non-fiction: essays on being black, Asian and minority ethnic in Britain today. {****]

89. Eimear McBride, The Lesser Bohemians (Ireland, 2016). A young woman’s affair at art school. Develops McBride’s technique of using coherence of viewpoint to represent coherence of thought. [****]

88. Han Kang, The Vegetarian (South Korea, 2007/15) Re-read: still an extraordinary character study. [*****]

87. Jess Kidd, Himself (England/Ireland, 2016). A man who can see the dead returns to his childhood village to find out what happened to his mother. [****]

86. Rachel Cusk, Outline (England/Canada, 2014). A writer perceives a sketch of herself through the lives of others. [***]

85. Deborah Levy, Hot Milk (England, 2016). A tale of control and identity on the Spanish coast. [***]

84. Emmanuelle Pagano, Trysting (France, 2013/16). A novel of love, told in shimmering fragments. [****]

83. Paul Kingsnorth, Beast (England, 2016). Follow-up to The Wake, set in the present day. Intense study of a man facing up to his own loneliness and his place in the landscape. [****]

82. Clifton Robbins, Dusty Death (England, 1931). Barrister and detective Clay Harrison heads to the League of Nations, where the clues to a mysterious murder await. Enjoyably dark classic crime. [****]

81. James Robertson, The Testament of Gideon Mack (Scotland, 2006). A minister in doubt about his faith claims to have met the devil… then disappears. A novel that I found more interesting than enjoyable. [***]

80. Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer That Melted Everything (USA, 2016). In the hot summer of 1984, a boy claiming to be the devil appears in a small Ohio town, and strange things start to happen. There are some effective moments, but mostly the writing feels over-egged. {***]

79. Cristina Sánchez-Andrade, The Winterlings (Spain, 2014/6). Two sisters return as adults to their childhood home, where mystery awaits. [****]

78. Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight (England, 1939). Harrowing tale of a woman drifting through Paris, and the memories of her old life that burst from the page. [****]

77. Amin Maalouf, Leo the African (Lebanon, 1986/92). A novel telling the life of 16th-century traveller Hasan al-Wazzan.  I found it quite dry to read, but perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood. [***]

76. Dan Micklethwaite, The Less Than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote (England, 2016). Don Quixote in Huddersfield? Perhaps. A young woman tries to improve her lfie by escaping into fantasties, or perhaps escaping from them. [****]

75. Jemma Wayne, Chains of Sand (England, 2016). A tale of two young Jewish men who want to live in another place but can’t let go of home. [***]

74. Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography (England, 1928). A magnificent work of transformation. [*****]

73.  Tom Connolly, Men Like Air (England, 2016). Living and changing in New York City. [***]

72. Maxim Gorky, My Childhood (Russia, 1913). Non-fiction: a raw, compelling memoir. [****]

71. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (England, 1931). First time reading this classic dystopia; despite its age, it sill cuts sharply. [****]

70. Pierre Lemaitre, Blood Wedding (France, 2009/16). A psychological thriller which begins with a wonderfully unnerving sense of possibility, but loses its way when it starts to fill in the gaps. [***]

69. Eduardo Mendoza, No Word from Gurb (Spain, 1990/2007). Aiens visit Barcelona, get caught out by human quirks, and eat a lot of churros. Sometimes I found this hilarious; other times, I felt I was missing a joke. [***]

68. Leena Krohn, Tainaron: Mail from Another City (Finland, 1985/2004). Snapshots from a city of insect people, which is more a state of being than a place. [****]

67. Andrew Kaufman, The Tiny Wife (Canada, 2011). Re-read: once again, I found myself captivated by Kaufman’s distinctive sense of magic and mystery. [****]

66. Basma Abdel Aziz, The Queue (Egypt, 2013/6). A tale of extreme bureaucracy that consumes and destroys people’s lives. [***]

65. Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes. breach (Nigeria/Germany/Zimbabwe, 2016). Peirene’s first original commission: tales of the Calais refugee camp. [***]

64. Rudyard Kipling, Brazilian Sketches (England, 1940). Letters from Kipling’s 1927 trip to Brazil. Fascinating in how it organises space and opens up a viewpoint from another time. [***]

63. Enrique Vila-Matas, Never Any End to Paris (Spain, 2003/11). Following in Hemingway’s footsteps, in a Paris as vivid and evanescent as the words on a page. [****]

62. Jovanka Živanović, Fragile Travelers (Serbia, 2008/16). A man goes missing inside a woman’s dreams, revealing the pair’s disconnection from life. [***]

61. Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals (England, 2014). Re-read: still raucous, hilarious, sharp, and gripping. [****]

60. Asha Miró & Anna Soler-Pont, Traces of Sandalwood (Spain/India, 2007/16). A tale of adoption, migration, and changing lives. [***]

59. Roberto Bolaño, The Skating Rink (Chile, 1993/2009). An inverted detective story narrated by three obsessed men. [***]

58. Claire North, Touch (England, 2015). An individual who hijacks other people’s bodies is forced to go on the run. [***]

57. Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants (Canada, 2016). The discovery of an alien machine, told in a curiously distancing style. [***]

56. Frédéric Dard, Bird in a Cage (France, 1961/2016). A snappy and disorienting psychological thriller. [****]

55. Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway’s Party (England, 1973). Stories from before, after, and beside Mrs Dalloway. [***]

54. Yuri Herrera, The Transmigration of Bodies (Mexico, 2013/6).  A noir-ish tale of networks and exchange. [****]

53. Tom Bullough, Addlands (Wales, 2016). Seventy years in the life of a farming family from the Welsh Marches: changing fortunes, unchanging landscape. [****]

52. Serge Brussolo, The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome (France, 1992/2016). What is the place of the artist when art comes straight from dreams? [****]

51. Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, Panty (India, 2006/14). A woman’s fragmented life, self, and imagination. [****]

50. Faruk Šehić, Quiet Flows the Una (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2011/6). Unchanging nature and the interruption of a war that’s too large to fit the space. [****]

49. Charles Lambert, The Children’s Home (England, 2016). A descent into dream, as mysterious children arrive at a house which is just as unknown to its owner as they are. [****]

48. J.G. Ballard, High-Rise (England, 1975). The ‘ordinary’ inhabitants of a shiny new high-rise descend into barbarism. Intriguingly opaque. [***]

47. Terry Pratchett, Small Gods (England, 1992). Re-read for the first time since I was a teenager. Still smart and subtle, and the ending has the sublime imaginative lift of Pratchett’s best. [****]

46. Anne Garréta, Sphinx (France, 1986/2015). A love story without gender; the glamour of surfaces. [****]

45. Hanneke Hendrix, The Dyslexic Hearts Club (Netherlands, 2014/6). A splendidly dark road trip of a novel, about three women who flee their guarded hospital room. [****]

44. Álvaro Enrigue, Sudden Death (Mexico, 2013/6). A novel of tennis, art, and the making of the modern world. [****]

43. Robert Silverberg, The Man in the Maze (USA, 1968). A group of plucky explorers search a dangerous planet to find the one disaffected man with the potential to save humanity. I liked the idea of this book better than the execution: it seemed to have dated badly. [**}

42. Vanessa Ronan, The Last Days of Summer (USA, 2016). A man goes to live with his sister and her daughters after ten years in prison. Nicely menacing and atmospheric. {***]

41. Thomas Olde Heuvelt, HEX (Netherlands, 2013/6). A contemporary take on small-town horror that starts off knowing and ends up suitably bleak. {***]

40. Helen Oyeyemi, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (England/Nigeria, 2016). A typically bewildering and bewildering story collection from Oyeyemi. [****]

39. Calvin Trillin, Tepper Isn’t Going Out (USA, 2001). The tale of a man who likes to park up his car and stay there. Like a New Yorker cartoon in novel form. {**]

38. Andrey Kurkov, The Bickford Fuse (Ukraine, 2009/16). A picaresque journey through a land that’s both dreamlike and only too real. [****]

37. Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (England, 1915). Woolf’s debut, a rite-of-passage novel that sows the seeds of what was to come in her fiction. [****]

36. Sarah Perry, After Me Comes the Flood (England, 2014). A bookseller wanders into a strange religious retreat, and seems to be expected. A deceptively transparent, eerily hazy novel. [***]

35. Augusto De Angelis, The Hotel of the Three Roses (Italy, 1936/2016). A classic of Italian crime fiction, as compelling as you could wish. [****]

34. Agustín Fernández Mallo, Nocilla Dream (Spain, 2006/15). A decentred novel for a decentred world. [****]

33. Adam Roberts, Bête (England, 2014). One man’s journey through an England where animals have been implanted with artificial intelligence chips. Unmistakably an Adam Roberts novel. [***]

32. Yan Lianke, The Four Books (China, 2015). A novel about a re-education camp during the Great Leap Forward. It creeps up on you, but what an ending…. [****]

31. Elena Ferrante, The Story of the Lost Child (Italy, 2015). The final Neapolitan Novel. [***]

30. José Eduardo Agualusa, A General Theory of Oblivion (Angola, 2012/5). A kaleidoscopic view of Angolan independence. [***]

29. Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump (Japan, 2007/13). A boy’s account of his autism. Read for my group and not something I’d have chosen otherwise, but interesting enough as one individual’s perspective. [**]

28. Eka Kurniawan, Man Tiger (Indonesia, 2004/15). A traumatic event brings out the tiger within. [***]

27. Angharad Price, The Life of Rebecca Jones (Wales, 2002/12). Re-read: surely a modern classic of rural literature. [****]

26. Orhan Pamuk, A Strangeness in My Mind (Turkey, 2014/5). A big, sweeping saga of Istanbul. The trouble is, I’m just not keen on big, sweeping sagas. [**]

25. Yelena Moskovich, The Natashas (Ukraine/USA, 2016). A theatrical tale of fluid, detached identities. [***]

24. Marie NDiaye, Ladivine (France, 2013/6). Three generations of women, aware of the social and physical space they occupy. [****]

23. Kenzaburo Oe, Death by Water (Japan, 2009/15). One of the most boring books I’ve read in a long time. [*]

22. Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Tram 83 (DR Congo, 2014/5). A whirlwind of language that encircles a gold-rush city. [****]

21. Raduan Nassar, A Cup of Rage (Brazil, 1978/2015).  An encounter between two lovers, that sadly tails off in intensity just as it turns confrontational. [***]

20. Robert Seethaler, A Whole Life (Austria, 2014/5). A man’s life and landscape, distilled to intensity. [****]

19. Boileau-Narcejac, Vertigo (France, 1954). The novel that inspired Hitchcock’s film – which I haven’t seem (I know, I know), though now I’d like to. [***]

18. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (England, 1927). I loved Mrs Dalloway, but wasn’t so keen on this. The earlier book engulfs one; this felt more restrained, and I missed the feeling of being overwhelmed. [***]

17. Peter Verhelst, The Man I Became (Belgium, 2010/6). A delightfully abstract fable narrated by a talking gorilla. [****]

16. Harry Parker, Anatomy of a Soldier (England, 2016). The story of a soldier’s service, injury, and recovery, told in the voices of inanimate objects. Errs a little too much on the side of convention, but is worth reading for all that. [****]

15. Dan Fox, Pretentiousness: Why It Matters (England, 2016). Non-fiction: an illuminating, impassioned, and urgent defence of pushing the imagination. [****]

14. Rob Doyle, This Is the Ritual (Ireland, 2016). A collection of stories with themes of isolation and evanescence. I liked it to begin with, but it grew wearying. [**]

13. Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (Canada, 2003). Re-read for my group: I never seem to get along with Atwood’s books as much as I’d like to. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this one the first time I read it, and that hasn’t changed second time around. [***}

12. Peter Benson, Isabel’s Skin (England, 2012). In the early 20th century, a book valuer travels to Somerset and discovers a young woman who has been the subject of a strange experiment. This slice of English Gothic trundles along nicely enough, but it lacks that extra spark. [***]

11. Anakana Schofield, Martin John (Ireland/Canada, 2015). The extraordinary tale of a flasher, organised to create meaning for him rather than the reader. [****]

10. Maylis de Kerangal, Mend the Living (France, 2014/6). The many dimensions of a heart transplant, illuminated by de Kerangal’s kaleidoscopic prose. [*****]

9. Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed (Afghanistan/USA, 2013). Sixty years in the lives of a brother and sister who were separated as young children, and others around them. I enjoyed the beginning well enough, but the rest felt too fragmented to earn its ending.

8. Maylis de Kerangal, Birth of a Bridge (France, 2010/5). Novel about a Californian town that plans to put itself on the map with a new bridge, and the different people who come to build it. Worth reading for its delightful, meandering sentences. [****]

7. Barbara Ehrenreich, Smile or Die (USA, 2009). Non fiction: an account of the growth of ‘positive thinking’ culture, and the harm that (Ehrenreich argues) it has caused. I think she pushes the overall argument a little far, but there are some eye-opening (and quite troubling) examples. [***]

6. Marianne Fritz, The Weight of Things (Austria, 1978/2015). A deceptively placid tale of domestic strife, over which looms the shadow of war. [****]

5. Tracy Farr, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt (Australia, 2013). Engaging novel about a (fictional) octogenarian pioneer of the theremin. [***]

4. Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (England, 1925). My first Woolf, and what an experience: a flood of language, a landscape of consciousness. [*****]

3. Lina Wolff, Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs (Sweden, 2012/6). A composite portrait of a writer, revealing the different faces she showed to different people. Very nicely written. [****]

2. Han Kang, Human Acts (South Korea, 2014/6). A novel about the Gwangju Uprising, mediated through individual actions, experiences, and sensations. As powerful as The Vegetarian, if not more. [*****]

1. Patrick Modiano, So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood (France, 2014/5). An encounter in the present forces a writer to dredge up suppressed memories. As reliably enjoyable as I’ve come to expect from Modiano. [****]