2021 has been a fantastic year in the book world.
We’ve seen the release of highly acclaimed novels, mind-blowing debuts, and successful returns from Sally Rooney and Jonathan Franzen.
So whether you’re buying a Christmas present for a bookworm or want a great book to chill out with while on vacation, here’s our pick of the best.
Read on for our nine best novels of 2021:
Sorrow and Happiness by Meg Mason
The biggest word-of-mouth hit of the year was this bittersweet comedy about a middle-aged food columnist whose marriage breaks down because of her wish not to have children.
Behind its sarcastic facade hides an undiagnosed mental illness and the painful memory of a chaotic upbringing by an alcohol-drinking sculptor.
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
Long derided in trendy literary circles as a disconnected snob (and worse), the author of The Corrections reminded us of just how awesome he really is by bringing his A-game to this endless 600-page game.
It’s about the desires and disappointments of a family in 1970s Arizona, where Russ, married with four children, is an excited pastor pitifully determined to put a widowed member of his congregation to bed.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This year’s hottest summer reading slips just as easily while sheltering under a blanket on frigid winter nights.
Centered on a messy celebrity family in 1980s California, it follows a supermodel surfer who faces latent sibling rivalries and a tabloid frenzy over his separation from a tennis star by throwing a party. end of summer debauched.
The Promise of Damon Galgut
This year’s Booker Prize judges rightly crowned this exceptional multigenerational saga, about the corrosive legacy of racism in post-apartheid South Africa.
Set over four decades, it traces the fallout from a white family’s failure to honor their wish to give their dark maid a home on their farm. The morally mellow storyline is reinforced by a cunning acrobatic narrative voice.
Beautiful people, where are you from Sally Rooney
The last millennial love story of the superstar author of Normal People was among the most anticipated releases of the year.
While fans might be baffled by the extreme self-awareness of a book curiously determined to doubt its own merit, Rooney’s fresh wit and intelligence remained crystal clear in a cerebral romantic comedy centered on a famous youngster. Irish novelist much like the author herself.
A Lonely Man by Chris Power
Similar to a cross between Karl Ove Knausgård and John le Carré, this Berlin debut follows an expatriate novelist who finds inspiration in a chance encounter with a Negro who claims to be on the run from the Russian state.
A spy thriller concerned with the ethics of storytelling – not to mention a sharp portrayal of fatherhood and friendship – it raises the tension to a hopelessly ready finale.
Chandelier by Raven Leilani
This relentlessly off-balance start from across the Atlantic more than justified its feverish pre-release hype.
It is told by a young black New Yorker whose sexual quest leads her into a bizarre threesome with a middle-aged white couple who struggle to raise their adopted black daughter.
Intelligent about race and gender, he’s filled with Brooklynite Leilani’s electric turn of phrase and is positively bubbling with mischief.
Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy
This year, this startling gang comedy was hitting the radar a little bit about Aoife, an Irish drug trafficker who peddled a huge amount of cocaine in Britain with her lover, Annie.
While there are twists galore, the real thrill comes from the earthy flavor of Aoife’s vernacular storytelling, which blazes from the page thanks to Cassidy’s ingenious use of rhythm and phonetics.
Klara and the sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Another of the most anticipated novels of the year was this quietly powerful story told through the eyes of a robot bought to accompany a mysteriously ailing teenage girl.
It’s up to the reader to understand the precise contours of the climate-ravaged dystopia in which the story takes place, in a sci-fi thread that doubles as a heart-wrenching parable of parental perils.
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