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.

88. Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington (Scotland, 1988). A literary feud collides with a series of threatening letters in 1950s Kensington. [****]

87. Marco Malvaldi, The Measure of a Man (Italy, 2018 tr. 2019). A typically mischievous murder mystery starring Leonardo da Vinci. [****]

86. Inez Holden, Blitz Writing (England, 1940-3). A novella and diary of life during the Blitz. [***]

85. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (USA, 2018). A sharply observed story collection. [***]

84. Caryl Lewis, The Jeweller (Wales, 2007 tr. 2019). The hidden and future are revealed as a market trader faces a crossroads in life. [***]

83. Ryan O’Neill, The Drover’s Wives (Scotland, 2019). A classic Australian short story retold in a kaleidoscope of styles. [****]

82. Kevin Barry, Night Boat to Tangier (Ireland, 2019). A dance of language as two fading Irish gangsters search for the missing daughter of one of them. [****]

81. Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Colombia, 1967 tr. 1970). Waves of story wash over one small town. [****]

80. Susana Moreira Marques, Now and at the Hour of Our Death (Portugal, 2012 tr. 2015). A quietly poignant account of the lives of terminally ill people in a remote Portuguese community. [****]

79. Johanna Sinisalo, The Core of the Sun (Finland, 2013 tr. 2016). A tale of escape from oppression in a world of strict social division and illegal trade in chilli peppers. [***]

78. Sulochana Manandhar, Night (Nepal, tr. 2019). The night becomes many things in these reflective short poems. [****]

77. Natalia Ginzburg, Voices in the Evening (Italy, 1961 tr. 1963). The relationships in an Italian town are frayed in the aftermath of WW2, leading to increasingly brittle conversations that drive reality on. [****]

76. Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling, Factfulness (Sweden, 2018). A book about using data to gain a more nuanced understanding of the world. [****]

75. Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, The Yogini (India, 2008 tr. 2019). A woman meets a mysterious figure who claims to be her fate. She tries to prove to herself that she has free will, but things keep turning out differently from what she expects. [***]

74. Adrian Tchaikovsky, Dogs of War (England, 2017). A group of genetically engineered animals bred as super-weapons start to gain sentience. Ethical problems ensue. [****]

73. Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air (USA, 1997). A memoir of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. [***]

72. Amélie Nothomb, Strike Your Heart (Belgium, 2017 tr. 2018). A young has to navigate unexpected maternal and professional jealousy. [****]

71. Maria Gerhardt, Transfer Window (Denmark, 2017 tr. 2019). Piercing tale of a young woman whose life is derailed by terminal illness. [****]

70. Taeko Kono, Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories (Japan, 1960s tr. 1996). Tales of dark desire. [***]

69. Craig Cliff, The Mannequin Makers (New Zealand, 2013). The rivalry between two department store window-dressers has life-altering consequences. [***]

68. Geovani Martins, The Sun on My Head (Brazil, 2018 tr. 2019). A collection of stories about growing up in the Rio favelas. [***]

67. Fiona Kidman, This Mortal Boy (New Zealand, 2018). A novel about the second-to-last person executed in New Zealand, and the uncertainties around his trial. [****]

66. Elle Nash, Animals Eat Each Other (USA, 2018). A three-way relationship turns destructive. [***]

65. David Constantine, The Dressing-Up Box (England, 2019). A story collection whose characters face the uncertain future while reflecting on the inescapable past. [***]

64. Mario Benedetti, Who Among Us? (Uruguay, 1953 tr. 2019). A love triangle seen through the shifting perspectives of its participants. [***]

63. Laia Jufresa, Umami (Mexico, 2015 tr. 2016). The secrets of a group of neighbours are revealed in a novel that cycles backwards over five years. [***]

62. Abdulai Silá, The Ultimate Tragedy (Guinea-Bissau, 1995 tr. 2017). The story of a black girl who gets a job in a white household in colonial Guinea-Bissau, and finds her life transformed. [****]

61. Carolina Sanín, The Children (Colombia, 2014 tr. 2017). A woman finds a six-year-old boy with no apparent history outside her house one night… and so begins an elusive journey through a reconfiguring reality.

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. [***]