This page lists all the books I have read in 2019, along with links to where I’ve written about them¤. I’ll be updating this list throughout the year.

60. Alejandro Zambra, Multiple Choice (Chile, 2014 tr. 2016). A novel in the form of a high-school test, with snapshots of character and life. [***]

59. Martín Solares, Don’t Send Flowers (Mexico, 2015 tr. 2018). A retired detective searches for a business man’s kidnapped daughter, but the world is even darker than he imagines. [***]

58. Julián Fuks, Resistance (Brazil, 2015 tr. 2018). A young man confronts the limits of his ability to comprehend the story of his parents, who were political resisters. [***]

57. Leila Guerriero, A Simple Story (Argentina, 2013 tr. 2015). The true-life tale of a young man training to win the ultimate accolade at a traditional dance festival. [****]

56. Joanna Kavenna, Come to the Edge (England, 2012). Re-read for book group: a joy to discover all over again. [****]

55. Dmitry Novikov, A Flame Out at Sea (Russia, tr. 2019). Family secrets uncovered in the wild region around the White Sea. [***]

54. Liz Jensen, The Rapture (England, 2009). Re-read for book group: still as good ten years on, and alarmingly current. [****]

53. César Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (Argentina, 2000 tr. 2006). A German artist is changed physically and mentally on a trip to Argentina. [***]

52. Irmgard Keun, The Artificial Silk Girl (Germany, 1932 tr. 2002). In Weimar Germany, a young woman flees to Berlin with dreams of becoming a star – but finds reality rather different. [****]

51. Katie Hale, My Name is Monster (England, 2019). In a post-apocalyptic Britain, a woman named Monster seeks to survive, then finds a young girl who wants something more. [***]

50. Virve Sammalkorpi, Children of the Cave (Finland, 2016 tr. 2019). A 19th century expedition finds a group of children with animal feature. The question arises: what is human? [****]

49. David Malouf, An Imaginary Life (Australia, 1978). A novel of Ovid in exile and a wild child. [***]

48. Alexandra Büchler and Alison Evans (eds.), Zero Hours on the Boulevard (Various, 2019). Anthology of ‘Tales of Independence and Belonging’. [****]

47. Anna Burns, Milkman (Northern Ireland, 2018). Life in a world of dangerous gossip. [***]

46. Henrik Nor-Hansen, Termin (Norway, 2016 tr. 2019). A short tale of a man recovering from assault, written with the dispassion of a police report. [****]

45. Mario Levrero, Empty Words (Uruguay, 1996 tr. 2019). A book of writing exercises that doubles as its protagonist’s attempt to assert control over his life. [****]

44. Nina Allan, The Dollmaker (England, 2019). A man travels to meet a fellow doll collector, stalked by a book of short stories that seem to mirror his life. A tale of the parallel worlds that lie between lives, from a favourite contemporary writer. [****]

43. Jeremy Cooper, Ash Before Oak (England, 2019). A novel written as a nature diary that also chronicles its protagonist’s mental breakdown and recovery. Subtle and affecting. [****]

42. Henrietta Rose-Innes, Animalia Paradoxa (South Africa, 2019). A fine short story collection with strong imagery. [****]

41. Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow (USA, 1996). Novel about a Jesuit mission to space which has been highly praised over the years (and even won the Clarke Award), but never caught fire for me. [***]

40. Ann Quin, Berg (England, 1964). A man travels to a seaside town intending to kill his father, but gets caught up in all sorts of shenanigans. An avant-garde novel with a streak of farce. [****]

39. Amy Liptrot, The Outrun (Scotland, 2016). A finely balanced memoir of addiction and nature as the author returns to her native Orkney. [****]

38. Anna Vaught and Anna Johnson (eds.), Tempest (Various, 2019). An anthology of fiction, non-fiction and poetry themed around the political and environmental turmoil of present times. [***]

37. Will Wiles, Plume (England, 2019). A journalist and cult writer depend on each other in this paranoid tale of modern urban living. [****]

36. Pierre Jarawan, The Storyteller (Germany/Lebanon, 2016 tr. 2019). A man travels to Lebanon, the homeland he’s never visited, to find out why his father disappeared. [***]

35. Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation (USA, 2014). An expedition into an area of warped reality goes wrong in the strange and creepy opening to Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. [***]

34. Sara Stridsberg, The Faculty of Dreams (Sweden, 2006 tr. 2019). A ‘literary fantasy’ inspired by the life of Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM Manifesto and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol. [****]

33. Alia Trabucco Zerán, The Remainder (Chile 2014 tr. 2018). Three children of ex-militants take a road trip to face the past. [***]

32. Mazen Maarouf, Jokes for the Gunmen (Palestine/Iceland, 2015 tr. 2019). Surreal tales of life in a war zone. Some were interesting, but mostly this was nothing special. [**]

31. Can Xue, Love in the New Millennium (China, 2013 tr. 2018). In all honesty, I couldn’t follow this. [**]

30. Hwang Sok-yong, At Dusk (South Korea, 2015 tr. 2018). A successful architect reconsiders his life in another book that did little for me. [**]

29. Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds (Argentina, 2009 tr. 2019). A few splendidly creepy stories and too many also-rans. Not up to the standard of Fever Dream. [***]

28. Hubert Mingarelli, Four Soldiers (France, 2003 tr. 2018). A quiet tale of soldiers in the Russian civil war. Pleasant enough to read, but left no lasting impression. [**]

27. Marion Poschmann, The Pine Islands (Germany, 2017 tr. 2019). A German man tries to find himself in Japan in a novel that sometimes appears satirical, other times straight-faced. [***]

26. Jokha Alharthi, Celestial Bodies (Oman, 2010 tr. 2018). A novel of changing society told through the lives of three sisters and their families. [***]

25. Annie Ernaux, The Years (France, 2008 tr. 2017). An account of the author’s life suspended in a broader social history. Evokes vividly the changing experience of living. [****]

24. Juan Gabriel Vásquez, The Shape of the Ruins (Colombia, 2015 tr. 2018). It took me three attempts to read this, and it was never anything but a chore. [**]

23. Tommy Wieringa, The Death of Murat Idrissi (Netherlands, 2017 tr. 2019). Two Dutch-Moroccan women deal with the fallout of people-trafficking gone wrong in this sharp tale of being caught between cultures. [****]

22. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Zimbabwe, 2018).A family’s story, set against the background of Zimbabwean history.

21. Emilie Pine, Notes to Self (Ireland, 2018). A raw, powerful collection of personal essays. [****]

20. Leïla Slimani, Lullaby (France /Morocco, 2016 tr. 2018). The tale of a murderous nanny. [***]

19. Hwang Jungeun, I’ll Go On (South Korea, 2014 tr. 2018). A novel of coming to terms with (or breaking away from) the past, told by two sisters and their childhood friend. [****]

18. Chris Beckett, Dark Eden (England, 2012). Re-read for book group. I feel much the same way as I did the first time, enjoying Beckett’s portrait of an abandoned society on a distant colonised planet. [***]

17. Trevor Mark Thomas, The Bothy (England, 2019). Claustrophobic tale of a young man hiding from the bounty that his girlfriend’s family has placed on his head. [***]

16. Robert Menasse, The Capital (Austria, 2017 tr. 2019). There’s a pig on the loose in Brussels, and a theme is needed for the celebration of the European Commission’s 50th anniversary. [***]

15. Sue Rainsford, Follow Me to Ground (Ireland, 2018). The strange and haunting tale of a not-quite-human daughter and father with mysterious healing powers. [****]

14. Lillian Li, Number One Chinese Restaurant (USA/China, 2018). Portrait of the owners and staff of a Maryland restaurant at a moment of pressure and change. [***]

13. Rachel Cusk, Outline (England, 2014). Re-read for book group. I appreciated more of what the novel was doing this time (creating a portrait of the narraror in the interstices of dialogue with other characters), but I still don’t feel any closer to it. [***]

12. Alan Parks, February’s Son (Scotland, 2019). Harry McCoy returns in the sequel to Bloody January. Another enjoyable slice of crime fiction set in 1970s Glasgow. [***]

11. Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (Russia, 1967 tr. 2008/18). I enjoyed the playfulness of this, even though ultimately I didn’t follow it and don’t really know what to say about it… One to re-read another time, perhaps. [***]

10. Agustín Fernández Mallo, Nocilla Lab (Spain, 2009 tr. 2019). Third part of the Nocilla Trilogy. Takes the idea of a de-centred universe and applies it to the protagonist’s individual identity. Brilliant translation, too, mutating in style with each section. [****]

9. Ricky Monahan Brown, Stroke (Scotland, 2019). Touching memoir about the author’s recovery from a stroke at age 38. [***]

8. Mathias Enard, Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants (France, 2010 tr. 2018). A tale of Michelangelo designing a bridge in Constantinople, suspended between history and fiction. [****]

7. Catherine Chidgey, The Beat of the Pendulum (New Zealand, 2017). A disorienting novel of found texts and conversations. [***]

6. Rita Indiana, Tentacle (Dominican Republic, 2015 tr. 2018). A pre- and post-apocalyptic novel of climate change, told across three intersecting timelines. [***]

5. Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others (USA, 2002). A collection from the author of ‘Understand’, which I reviewed ten (ulp!) years ago; the title story was adapted into the 2016 film Arrival. I enjoyed the book: a couple of stories were a little dry for me, but most were as thought-provoking as I want science fiction to be. [****]

4. Magda Szabó, Katalin Street (Hungary, 1969 tr. 2018). A subtle, reflective account of lives changed on one Budapest Street in the mid-20th century. [***]

3. Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (England, 2011). Re-read for book group. I actually liked it less this time: it seemed quite dry. [***]

2. Nihad Sirees, States of Passion (Syria, 1998 tr. 2018). A bureaucrat listens to an old man’s tale of family secrets, in this nest of stories. [***]

1. Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister, the Serial Killer (Nigeria, 2018). The story of a woman who bumps off her boyfriends, and the sister who helps her clean up afterwards. [***]