Μόνον 5 τίτλους επιλέγει η εφημερίδα. Το μυθιστόρημα Outline διαδραματίζεται στην Ελλάδα. The year’s best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
By Magda Szabo. Translated by Len Rix.
In Szabo’s haunting novel, a writer’s intense relationship with her servant — an older woman who veers from aloof indifference to inexplicable generosity to fervent, implacable rage — teaches her more about people and the world than her long days spent alone, in front of her typewriter. Szabo, who died in 2007, first published her novel in 1987, in the last years of Communist rule; this supple translation shows how a story about two women in 20th-century Hungary can resonate in a very different time and place. With a mix of dark humor and an almost uncanny sense of the absurd, she traces the treacherous course of a country’s history, and the tragic course of a life.
Berlin, who died in 2004, left behind a substantial but little-known trove of stories that in her lifetime appeared mostly in literary journals and small-press books. This revelatory collectiongathers 43 of them, introducing her to a wider audience as an uncompromising and largehearted observer of life whose sympathies favor smart, mouthy women struggling to get by much as Berlin herself — an alcoholic who raised four sons on her own — frequently did. With their maximalist emotions and sparse, unadorned language, Berlin’s stories are the kind a woman in a Tom Waits song might tell a man she’s just met during a long humid night spent drinking in a parking lot.
Cusk’s subtle, unconventional and lethally intelligent novel, “Outline,” her eighth, is a string of one-sided conversations. A divorced woman traveling in Greece, our narrator, talks — or rather listens — to the people she meets, absorbing their stories of love and loss, deception, pride and folly. Well-worn subjects — adultery, divorce, ennui — become freshly menacing under Cusk’s gaze, and her mental clarity can seem so penetrating, a reader might fear the same risk of invasion and exposure.
This year’s most cheerfully outrageous satire takes as its subject a young black man’s desire to segregate his local school and to reinstate slavery in his home — before careening off to consider almost 400 years of black survival in America, puncturing every available piety. Sharp-minded and fabulously profane, Beatty’s novel is a fearless, metaphorical multicultural pot almost too hot to touch.
The Story of the Lost Child: Book 4, The Neapolitan Novels: “Maturity, Old Age”
By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein.
Like the three books that precede it in Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, this brilliant conclusion offers a clamorous, headlong exploration of female friendship set against a backdrop of poverty, ambition, violence and political struggle. As Elena and Lila, the girlhood rivals whose relationship spans the series, enter the middle terrain of marriage and motherhood, Ferrante’s preoccupations remain with the inherent radicalism of modern female identity — especially, and strikingly, with the struggles of the female artist against her biological and social destiny.