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

126. Takuji Ichikawa, Monkey Man (Japan, 2021). A short, intense burst of idealism. [***]

125. Kobo Abe, The Ark Sakura (Japan, 1984 tr. 1988). Dreamlike tale of a man trying to keep control of his own underground bunker. [***]

124. Soji Shimada, One Love Chigusa (Japan, 2020). The survivor of a road accident is forced to question what it means to be human. [***]

123. Ursula Scavenius, The Dolls (Denmark, 2020 tr. 2021). Four strange stories. [***]

122. Vigdis Hjorth, Will and Testament (Norway, 2016 tr. 2019). A dispute over an inheritance brings family secrets to light. [***]

121. Carl Nixon, The Tally Stick (New Zealand, 2020). A tale of missing children, family and survival. [***]

120. Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob (Poland, 2014 tr. 2021). Epic in length and scale, but not really my cup of tea. [***]

119. Peter Papathanasiou, The Stoning (Australia, 2021). An atmospheric piece of Outback noir. [***]

118. Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End (England, 2008). Engaging memoir about growing old. [****]

117. Jeffrey Lewis, Land of Cockaigne (USA, 2021). A couple in Maine try to give some boys from the Bronx a new start. [***]

116. Norman Erikson Pasaribu, Happy Stories, Mostly (Indonesia, tr. 2021). A collection of absurdist queer stories. [***]

115. Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire (USA, 2019). Space opera about an ambassador, which wasn’t really my cup of tea. [***]

114. Mona Arshi, Somebody Loves You (England, 2021). Fragmented tale of a girl who faces life by staying silent. [***]

113. Maki Kashimada, Touring the Land of the Dead (Japan, 2015 tr. 2021). A pair of contrasting stories. [***]

112. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (England, 1843). Re-reading a seasonal classic. [****]

111. Alison Moore, The Retreat (England, 2021). Unnerving tale of an artists’ retreat on a private island, and the strange goings-on there. [****]

110. Lucie Elven, The Weak Spot (England, 2021). A young woman becomes apprentice to a mysterious pharmacist. [***]

109. Juli Zeh, New Year (Germany, 2019 tr. 2021). Suppressed childhood trauma transforms a holiday bike ride. [****]

108. Anuradha Roy, The Earthspinner (India, 2021). The tale of a Hindu potter and a Muslim woman. [***]

107. Jasper Fforde, The Constant Rabbit (England, 2020). Comic novel set in a version of Britain with intelligent, human-like rabbits. [***]

106. Charif Majdalani, Beirut 2020 (Lebanon/France, 2020 tr. 2021). Journal combining an overview of Lebanese history with an account of the last disruptive year. [***]

105. Neil Bartlett, Address Book (England, 2021). Moving collection of stories inspired by places where the author has lived. [****]

104. Carmel Doohan, Seesaw (England, 2021). Fragmented tale of a twin. [***]

103. Rebecca Watson, little scratch (England, 2021). Dynamic typography illuminates the mind of a young woman who goes about her day while bottling up her trauma. [****]

102. Rosanna Hildyard, Slaughter (England, 2021). Three vivid tales of farming couples whose relationships are tested. [****]

101. Natasha Brown, Assembly (England, 2021). A young Black British woman working in finance considers her place in the world, in a novel that changes shape to match her thoughts. [****]

100. Angélique Villeneuve, Winter Flowers (France, 2014 tr. 2021). Vivid novel about a woman whose husband returns disfigured from the First World War. [****]

99. Daphne du Maurier, Julius (England, 1933). Novel narrating the life of a ruthless self-made businessman. [***]

98. Gregory Galloway, Just Thieves (USA, 2021). Laconic noir about a thief trapped in the web of his own employment. [***]

97. Samanta Schweblin, Little Eyes (Argentina, 2018 tr. 2020). Re-read: a ragged, searching novel. [***]

96. Thora Hjörleifsdóttir, Magma (Iceland, 2019 tr. 2021). Portrait of a young woman in a controlling relationship. [****]

95. Denton Welch, In Youth Is Pleasure (England, 1945). Vivid coming-of-age tale. [****]

94. John Carey, 100 Poets: A Little Anthology (Various, 2021). An introduction to poetry. [***]

93. Toshihiko Yahagi, The Wrong Goodbye (Japan, 2004 tr. 2021). An intriguing piece of Japanese noir. [***]

92. Emily Bullock, Human Terrain (England, 2021). A fine story collection about characters facing change and moments of tension. [****]

91. Julián Fuks, Occupation (Brazil, 2019 tr. 2021). A follow-up to Resistance that explores ideas of occupying buildings, bodies and time alike. [***]

90. Emma Jane Unsworth, Adults (England, 2020). I enjoyed Animals, but wasn’t keen on this frantic follow-up. [**]

89. Lize Spit, The Melting (Belgium, 2016 tr. 2021). Secrets are revealed from the past when a woman returns to the village where she grew up. [***]

88. Christian Unge, Hell and High Water (Sweden, 2019 tr. 2021). Enjoyable medical/crime thriller that ranges widely buy comes back to family. [***]

87. Caroline Hardaker, Composite Creatures (England, 2021). A striking novel about the layers that make up a human self. [****]

86. Rachel Ingalls, Mrs Caliban (USA, 1982). A suburban housewife finds liberation when she embarks ona relationship with a humanoid frog. [****]

85. Maryse Condé, Waiting for the Waters to Rise (France, 2010 tr. 2021). A doctor living in Guadeloupe travels to Haiti in search of a girl’s family, in a novel that examines statelessness. [***]

84. Paul Griffiths, The Tomb Guardians (Wales, 2021). A beautiful tapestry of intertwining conversations that confronts the fundamental absence at the hear of historical and spiritual knowledge. [*****]

83. Federico De Roberto, Agony (Italy, 1897 tr. 2021). An early Sicilian detective novel, with psychological insight. [***]

82 Dulce Maria Cardoso, Violeta among the Stars (Portugal, 2005 tr. 2021). A dying woman reflects on her life in a torrent of language. [****]

81. Claudia Piñeiro, Elena Knows (Argentina, 2007 tr. 2021). An elderly woman with Parkinson’s tries to uncover the truth about her daughter’s death in this brilliant novel of illness, identity and motherhood. [*****]

80. Ronit Matalon, And the Bride Closed the Door (Israel, 2016 tr. 2019). Entertaining character piece in which a family try to work out why a bride-to-be is having doubts. [****]

79. Salma, Women Dreaming (India, 2016 tr. 2020). Three women in a Tamil Nadu village dream of a change in their lives, and may find their way towards it. [****]

78. Amanda Smyth, Fortune (Ireland/Trinidad, 2021). Enjoyable historical tale about a love affair set against the background of the 1920s Trinidadian oil-rush. [***]

77. David Hogan, Hear Us Fade (USA/Ireland, 2021). A darkly comic novel which takes a sobering look at environmental and technological change. [***]

76. Ivana Dobrakovová, Bellevue (Slovakia, 2009 tr. 2019). A summer job goes badly wrong in this harrowing portrait of a mental breakdown. {****]

75. Claudia Durastanti, Cleopatra Goes to Prison (Italy, 2016 tr. 2020). The unsettlingly oblique tale of a woman who juggles visiting her boyfriend in prison and an affair with the police officer who arrested him. [***]

74. Adam Mars-Jones, Batlava Lake (England, 2021). A British engineer tells of the time he worked in Kosovo, but the chirpiness of his voice obscures dark events. [****]

73. Monique Roffey, The Mermaid of Black Conch (Trinidad/UK, 2020). Re-read: I really like the contrasting voices and atmosphere. [****]

72. Chi Zijian, The Last Quarter of the Moon (China, 2005 tr. 2013), A vivid novel portraying the Evenki people, reindeer-herders of north-eastern China. [****]

71. Paul McVeigh (ed.), The 32: an Anthology of Irish Working Class Voices (Ireland, 2021). A wide-ranging non-fiction anthology exploring the experience of being working class in Ireland. [***]

70. Helene Flood, The Therapist (Norway, 2019 tr. 2021). Splendidly twisty thriller about a psychologist trying to work out what was going through her missing husband’s mind. [****]

69. Shiori Ito, Black Box (Japan, 2017 tr. 2021). Powerful memoir that became a cornerstone of the #MeToo movement in Japan. [***]

68. Juan Emar, Yesterday (Chile, 1935 tr. 2021). An account of a strange day becomes a striking look at interior life. [***]

67. Keith Ridgway, A Shock (Ireland, 2021). A vital novel of stories told and withheld, and the connections that persist in a south London community. [****]

66. Mario Vargas Llosa, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (Peru, 1977 tr. 1982). Entertaining page-turner chronicling a young man’s secret relationship with an older relative, and a scriptwriter’s larger-than-life tales. [***]

65. Kazuo Ishiguro, An Artist of the Floating World (Japan/UK, 1986). In post-war Japan, a celebrated artist looks back on his life, though there’s darkness he may not wish to confront. [***]

64. Margaret Jull Costa (ed.), The Penguin Book of Spanish Short Stories (Spain, 2021). An anthology of over fifty short stories from Spain, with impressive overall quality. [****]

63. Isabel Waidner, Sterling Karat Gold (Germany/UK, 2021). A surreal carnival of a novel that sees its characters oppressed by the authorities, then turns everything on its head, via football, bullfighting and time-travelling spaceships. [****]

62. Ana María Matute, The Island (Spain, 1959 tr. 2020). This novel of a girl staying with family on Mallorca tells a broader story of the Spanish Civil War through the lens of the personal. [***]

61. Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man (USA, 1951). Classic collection from a master storyteller. [****]

60. Federico Falco, A Perfect Cemetery (Argentina, 2016 tr. 2021). Dynamic stories of characters at turning points in their lives. Each story only unfolds further once it’s finished. [****]

59. María Fernanda Ampuero, Cockfight (Ecuador, 2018 tr. 2020). Deeply harrowing tales that shine a light into the darker corners of everyday domestic life. [****]

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. [****]