From literary rhapsody to page-turning mystery to emotional drama, we have a little of everything on this year's list of our favorite fiction. From past, present, to future, from the most grittily real settings to the most imaginative fantasy worlds, these books will take you wherever you want to go. Hopefully including Island Books.
In the thick of the early Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was faced with a personal tragedy that threatened to unmoor him at a time when when country needed him most. Upon the death of his young son Willie, the president spent the night in the cemetery alone with the boy's body and his own thoughts. This much is fact. George Saunders renders the truth of that event, but adds his own imaginative brilliance in the form of a chorus of voices from the graveyard. The trapped souls bicker, plead, and contemplate the past and future of the nation in a style that's both poignant and comic--Saundersesque, in other words. It's an odd and amazing book like no other, and the Man Booker judges agree with us, having granted Lincoln in the Bardo their highest honors this year.
A man and a woman in a far-off, strife-torn land hear rumors of strange portals that can instantly whisk those who enter them to a better life. Or at least a different one, with unknown dangers. Exit West is both a thrilling story on its own merits and a subtle allegory of politics and immigration.
Magpie Murders contains puzzles within puzzles, wrapping a modern mystery around a period whodunit that would make Agatha Christie proud. It's essential reading for mystery fans and one of the most broadly appealing books of 2017 among our staff.
In a headlong rush of his protagonist's thoughts, Goldsmiths Prize-winner Mike McCormack reveals how one ordinary day can stand in for a whole extraordinary life. His writing is sublime, and the feeling of connection with the entire world he leaves his readers with is profound.
Read more of what James had to say about Solar Bones on our blog.
A Mercer Island favorite since the release of her first novel, Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng returns with Little Fires Everywhere, exploring the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood--and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
A portrait of domestic life in Nigerian society, Stay With Me belongs to Yejide, who loves her husband Akin and despite pressure from family and society, cannot seem to conceive. Adebayo offers a nuanced, heart wrenching, and also laugh-out-loud portrait of a marriage.
Read more of what Miriam had to say about Stay With Me on our blog.
A glamorous star from the Golden Age of Hollywood promises to reveal the secrets of her life to a young biographer, who is drawn inexorably into the aging actress's circle of charm. Taylor Jenkins Reid has written one of the most dramatic and entertaining novels in recent memory.
Read more of our fannishness for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on our blog.
2017 saw Jesmyn Ward's name added to the very short list of writers who have won multiple National Book Awards. This year's winner, Sing Unburied Sing, is about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love. Rich with Ward's distinctive, lyrical language, it is a majestic new work and an unforgettable family story.
We were completely absorbed by this novel's Russian fairy tale world, grounded historically and full of tension between ancient folk traditions and the teachings of the Orthodox Church. The story circles around a strong female character who must chart her own path, influenced by both sides of her heritage.
The stability of a family filled with rambunctious boys tilts unexpectedly when the youngest of them makes the announcement that he is really a girl. The novel handles the subject of transgendered children squarely yet tenderly, but the real takeaway here is the universal truth that parenting is always a challenge best met with boundless love.
Read more about This Is How It Always Is, including an original essay from author Laurie Frankel, on our blog.