Books I Read in 2013

A list of the new (to me) fiction I read this year. Criticism, theory, and rereads for work excluded. (See also lists from 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.)

  • Bennett, Ronan. The Catastrophist (2001). A possible text for the Congo class, though I’d probably go with something by Mabanckou instead.
  • Coetzee, J. M. The Childhood of Jesus (2013). Very good, as always.
  • Fountain, Ben. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012). Wanted to like this one, as the consensus best novel of the recent wars, but it left me kind of cold.
  • Klosterman, Chuck. The Visible Man (2011). Interesting premise: Try to think through all the implications of selective invisibility.
  • Kushner, Rachel. The Flamethrowers (2013). Not sure it’s as good as everyone says, but it is good.
  • Ledgard, J. M. Submergence (2013). Two-thirds of a really good book. The African sections are wonderful; the oceanography bits, not so much. Has the same problem Richard Powers does in writing about scientists — can’t get over a fawning love of science itself that finds expression as insufferably polymathic scientists.
  • Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies (2012). I’m a shameless fan. The last Wolf Hall book is coming soon, right? Please?
  • Nutting, Alissa. Tampa (2013). The comparisons to Lolita are entirely unearned, though I suppose one could do worse than “not as good as Nabokov.”
  • Pava, Sergio De La. A Naked Singularity (2012). Best book I’ve read in a long time.
  • Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge. (2013) Really enjoyed this; as with Coetzee, I’m a sucker for everything Pynchon writes.
  • Saunders, George. Tenth of December (2013). Pretty much as good as everyone says, though I still never know what to do with short stories.
  • Winterbach, Ingrid. The Book of Happenstance. (2011). An interesting, patient novel, translated from Afrikaans.

A dozen books in all. Once again, not setting any records, but an enjoyable year. I’m on leave next fall, so may do a bit better in 2014. In the meantime, I’ve just started Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire

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