November 12, 2006

Top Eight

Once every year or two, I come across a remarkable book. Not neccesarily a best seller, not neccesarily a "great book," but a work of fiction so original, so new, so provocative that I savor every word and am disappointed when it ends.

I have read lots and lots of books in my adult life, but only eight titles leapt to mind as notable and memorable enough to make my list. I could be left on a desert island with these titles and still be able to take two Harry Potter books to form my Top Ten list!

RAGTIME, Doctorow. Real historical people interact with Doctorow's characters to create the 'new music' of early 20th century America.

CAT'S CRADLE, Vonnegut. The first of the Vonnegut canon that I loved. As always, Vonnegut is completely original and defies description.

A GOOD SCENT FROM A STRANGE MOUNTAIN, Owen Butler. A tapestry of Vietnamese refugee life in New Orleans, told as a series of evocative short stories.

THE LIFE OF PI, Martel. Which is more interesting, the truth or a good story?

BEE SEASON, Goldberg. How Ellie won her 4th grade spelling bee, alienated her brother, influenced her father and caused her dysfunctional family to fall completely apart.

OUR HOLOCAUST, Gutfreund. The real members of Gutfreund family survived the Holocaust only in the author's imagination in this amazing and heart-breaking novel.

THE LAST SONG AT DUSK, Shanghvi. THE NAMESAKE, Lahiri, INTERPRETER OF MALADIES, Roy. It's my blog and I'm talking all three of these books by India-born authors, now living in England or the U.S. It's been a good few years for new Asian voices. See next.

LONDONSTANI, Malkani. Imperfect, but an impressive first novel. Bend It like Beckham meets A Clockwork Orange. Really.

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