Literary Corner Cafe

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Salon's "Best Books" of 2007...and Mine

The year 2007 was, as Salon says, a pretty quiet one in the publishing world. For some, that's good news, for others, not so good. Salon's just released its ten best books of the year, five of them fiction and five of them non-fiction. I'm really only interested in the fiction, and I agree with all but one major exclusion.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz was a terrific book. It was a little to "streetwise" for my taste, but just because it wasn't to my taste doesn't mean it was less than a superlative book.

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra was wonderful. Written in the style of a detective novel, it gives the reader, not only a fabulous literary experience, but also makes him or her feel as though he or she is right in the middle of Mumbai. I recommend it highly.

Tree of Smoke was a really wonderful novel of Vietnam and I'm not even "into" novels about Vietnam and the Vietnam War. However, I wish someone could write a review without using the word "feral," though. LOL It's so overused, it's become a cliche.

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon was one of my very favorites. I loved looking at this imaginary world of the Jews in Sitka, Alaska. This says a lot for the book, because generally I don't like novels sets in cold places (brrr!) or novels in which someone is investigating a crime. But this book was really terrific and the pages just flew by.

Salon's fifth "best fiction" of 2007 is Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. It's a good book, but here's where Salon and I part company. Angelica, by Arthur Phillips was, far and away, the very best book published in 2007 and sadly, so overlooked. I think many people who read Angelica didn't really understand it and were put off by its open end. However, Phillips plays fair with his readers and all the puzzle pieces are there for any astute and attentive reader to put together. Angelica is the perfect combination of art and craft. In my opinion, it deserves the Number One spot on any "best fiction" list.

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