Favorite Books of 2008

Leaving aside a few of the very excellent articles I have read in The New Yorker, here is list of my favorite literary works in 2008.

Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon was far and away the finest novel I read this year. See my account at http://marksinthemargin.blogspot.com/2008/10/night-train-to-lisbon.html. After reading a book like this, I find it to find anything that comes close.

David Rieff Swimming in a Sea of Death. David Reiff, the son of Susan Sontag describes his mother’s prolong battles to overcome three episodes of cancer

Ann Patchett”s What Now? is an edited version of a recent comment speech she delivered at Sarah Lawrence. Like everything Patchett has written it is both jolly and thought-provoking.

Richard Bausch’s Peace, is a tragic tale of a group of American soldiers fighting their way up Monte Casino during World War II

Carol Cassella’s Oxygen tells a suspenseful story with an unexpected ending of a terrible error she made or thought she made, as an anesthesiologist in a Seattle hospital.

Maruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running describes Murakami’s ambitious, sometimes astonishing ventures running marathons and beyond, as well as the significance of running on his writing life

Philip Roth Indignation. Here Roth tells the tale of a young college student growing up in, yes, in Newark who tries to emerge from his, yes, Jewish family, by heading off, yes, against his father’s wishes, to a second rate college far from home.

Andre Aciman’s Intimacy is Aciman’s part real, part fictional account of returning to the neighborhood in Rome that his family emigrated to after leaving Egypt. It was published American Scholar, Summer 2008.

To see the selections of two other readers of literary fiction I invite you to see the list that James Wood, the New Yorker’s literary critic, put together at http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/tny/2008/12/james-wood-eleven-favorite-boo.html.

Maureen Corrigan who reviews books on NPR also has a list at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98334820

Wood and Corrigan agree on their favorite book for the year, Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. While I read O’Neill’s novel, I didn’t find it as notable as they did. I will have more to say about Netherland in another post.