This page is where I keep track of everything I read during the year, with links to where I’ve written about it.

58. Perumal Murugan, The Story of a Goat (India, 2016 tr. 2018). A fable of society about a goat who doesn’t fit in. [***]

57. Sylvia Townsend Warner, The True Heart (England, 1929). A heightened Victorian love story, retelling Cupid and Psyche. [***]

56. Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mr Fortune’s Maggot (England, 1927). An unsuccessful missionary on a Polynesian island experiences a crisis of faith. [***]

55. Chris Tutton, The Failing of Angels (England, 2020). The life of a boy yearning to be loved after his parents reject him, told in striking prose. [***]

54. Andrew Komarnyckyj, Ezra Slef: The Next Nobel Laureate in Literature (England, 2021). Darkly comic tale of a pompous literary type who makes a Faustian pact that brings him success, at a price… [****]

53. James Clammer, Insignificance (England, 2021). A day in the life of a plumber: a doer grappling with his thoughts, and those of his family. [****]

52. Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist (Brazil, 1988 tr. 1993). Hmm… [**]

51. Oli Hazzard, Lorem Ipsum (England, 2021). A novel-length sentence that juxtaposes different experiences of reading, living and paying attention. [****]

50. Catherine McNamara, Love Stories for Hectic People (Australia, 2021). A book of short and sharp tales of love in its many forms. [***]

49. Hoda Barakat, Voices of the Lost (Lebanon, 2017 tr. 2020). A series of unsent letters from displaced individuals. [****]

48. Khurrum Rahman, The Motive (England/Pakistan, 2021). Tragedy strikes at a student house party in this short prequel to the author’s Jay Qasim series of thrillers. [***]

47. James Attlee, Under the Rainbow: Voices from Lockdown (England, 2021). A portrait of Oxford during the first lockdown. [***]

46. Guillermo Arriaga, The Untameable (Mexico, 2016 tr. 2021). Epic novel of a young man seeking revenge for his brother’s death. [****]

45. Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last (Canada, 2015). A desperate couple seek stability in a new experimental community that requires its inhabitants to stay in prison every other month. Enjoyably strange. [****]

44. Catherine Lacey, Pew (USA, 2020). Thought-provoking tale of an individual with no identifying characteristics, and their effect on a small American town. [****]

43. Benjamin Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World (Chile, 2020 tr. 2021). A novel about the price of scientific discovery. [****]

42. Haydn Middleton, The Actual Whole of Music (England, 2021). A novel that reads very much like one of Christopher Priest’s Dream Archipelago books, though not quite as good. Compulsively readable, but less interesting with hindsight. [***]

41. Gustaf Skördeman, Geiger (Sweden, 2020 tr. 2021). Post-Cold war thriller that I found hard to follow. [**]

40. Deborah Levy, Hot Milk (England, 2016) Re-read: hazy, dreamlike, elusive. [****]

39. Olga Ravn, The Employees (Denmark, 2018 tr. 2020). The thoughts of crew members on a starship, where the lines between human and non-human blur. [***]

38. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, The Perfect Nine (Kenya, 2019 tr. 2020). An adventure in verse, an engaging version of the Gĩkũyũ people’s myth of origin. [****]

37. Mariana Enríquez, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed (Argentina, 2017 tr. 2021). Uneven collection of urban horror stories. [***]

36. Isobel Wohl, Cold New Climate (USA, 2021). The tale of a woman’s evolving relationships as climate changes in the background. [****]

35. Phoebe Morgan, The Wild Girls (England, 2021). Thriller set in Botswana that starts off intriguingly but tails off too much later on. [**]

34. Andrzej Tichý, Wretchedness (Sweden/Czechia/Poland, 2016 tr. 2020). A cellist’s past catches up with him in this vivid torrent of language. [****]

33. Maria Stepanova, In Memory of Memory (Russia, 2017 tr. 2021). A fragmented account of the author’s family history, asking what can and should be remembered. [***]

32. Patricia Grace, Potiki (New Zealand, 1986). A Maori community resists the encroachment of land developers, in a tale alive with stories. [****]

31. Éric Vuillard, The War of the Poor (France, 2019 tr. 2020). A too-slight account of the German Peasants’ War. [**]

30. Ali Alraghi, The Immortals of Tehran (Iran, 2020). A family saga refracting the history of Iran, with flashes of strangeness. [***]

29. Jaap Robben, Summer Brother (Netherlands, 2018 tr. 2021). A boy has to work out how to relate to his severely disabled brother when the latter comes to stay. [***]

28. Agustín Fernández Mallo, The Things We’ve Seen (Spain, 2018 tr. 2021). A three-in-one novel exploring how war echoes through people’s lives. [***]

26. Judith Bryan, Bernard and the Cloth Monkey (England, 1998). Two sisters try to reconnect after several years apart, in the shadow of their family’s secrets. [****]

25. Mike Phillips, The Dancing Face (Guyana/England, 1997). A stolen Beninese mask becomes the focus of competing ideas about identity and possession in this engaging thriller. [****]

24. Simon Scarrow, Blackout (UK, 2021). Intriguing thriller set in wartime Berlin. [***]

23. Paul McAuley, Austral (England, 2017). Enjoyable romp set in a colonised near-future Antarctica. [***]

22. Kia Abdullah, Truth Be Told (England, 2020). A Muslim boy at an elite boarding school has a drunken encounter that may have led to him being assaulted – but the truth is elusive. [***]

21. Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing (USA, 2018). In the 1950s, North Carolina a young girl is abandoned by her family and grows up alone in the marsh. Years later, she is accused of murder, in an interesting mixture of nature writing, love story and courtroom drama. [***]

20. Hildegard of Bingen and Huw Lemmey, Unknown Language (UK, 2020). A reimagined Hildegard finds her own form of grace in an intensely written piece of work. [****]

19. Femi Kayode, Lightseekers (Nigeria, 2021). Thriller about a psychologist looking into the murder of three students at a Nigerian university. [****]

18. Doireann Ní Ghríofa, A Ghost in the Throat (Ireland, 2020). A young mother uncovers the life of an 18th century female poet, which gives her a release of her own. [****]

17. Shola von Reinhold, LOTE (Scotland/Nigeria, 2020). The tale of a Black modernist poet who has fallen through the cracks of history, and an individual seeking to reinvent herself in the present day. [***]

16. Alhierd Bacharevič, Alindarka’s Children (Belarus, 2014 tr. 2020). A fairytale-esque novel of language suppression and resistance, where Russian and Belarusian have been translated into English and Scots. [***]

15. Jon McGregor, Lean Fall Stand (England, 2021). An Antarctic expedition gone wrong, the struggle to communicate when language has left you… and McGregor’s characteristic piercing prose. [*****]

14. Lucy Jago, A Net for Small Fishes (England, 2021). The tale of friendship between two women at the court of James I. [***]

13. Andrea Lundgren, Nordic Fauna (Sweden, 2018 tr. 2021). Six tales of transformation, nature and a certain quiet magic. [***]

12. Katharina Volckmer, The Appointment (Germany, 2020). Intense monologue narrated by a woman who’s profoundly uncomfortable with her self, and seeking to change her life. [****]

11. Alice Zeniter, The Art of Losing (France, 2017 tr. 2021). Saga about a young French-Algerian woman searching for answers in her family’s past. [***]

10. Laura Vaughan, The Favour (Wales, 2021). The tale of a young woman trying to fit in with the glamorous set on a trip to Italy, with dark consequences. [***]

9. Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses (USA, 1992). I liked the way this was written but couldn’t tell you a thing about what happened. [***]

8. Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House (USA, 1959). I’ve meant to read Jackson for a long time, and finally got around to it. This was atmospheric but didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped. [***]

7. Soji Shimada, Murder in the Crooked House (Japan, 1982 tr. 2019). Endearingly absurd locked-room mystery. [***]

6. The Passenger: Japan (Various, 2020). First issue of a beautifully produced journal co-published by Iperborea and Europa Editions, each issue focusing on a different country or city. [***]

5. Afonso Cruz, Kokoschka’s Doll (Portugal, 2010 tr. 2021). A novel that explores the theme of interconnectedness through multiple versions of characters and stories that won’t reconcile into a single account. [****]

4. Yasunari Kawabata, Snow Country (Japan, 1937 tr. 1956). Classic Japanese lit is one of my stumbling-blocks, so I thought I’d try this to see if I would fare any better. Sadly, I still found I was missing something. [***]

3. Nicholas Royle (ed.), Best British Short Stories 2020. The tenth volume in Salt’s annual anthology series. [****]

2. Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor (Japan, 2003 tr. 2008). Re-read for book group. Still delicate in its observation of a relationship forged on a shared appreciation for the eternal beauty of mathematics. [****]

1. Abidemi Sanusi, Looking for Bono (Nigeria/England, 2020). Sparkling tale of a Nigerian man who resolves to use celebrity to draw attention to local problems, but becomes something of a celebrity himself. [****]