And here are the top from the Washington Post and the Boston Globe - not identical, but many of the same.... and, no I haven't read any of them, but intend to get my hands on The Savage Detectives and Cheating at Canasta:
- The Washington Post
Book World's Holiday Issue
Huck not only finds Pap, but Huck is half black -- a daring invention, to be sure, but also a brilliant embodiment of the liminal spot in which he lives, that chaotic Missouri boundary between freedom and slavery. -- Ron Charles
- Finn, by Jon Clinch (Random House).
translated from the French by Lauren Yoder (Pegasus). A newly unearthed novel by the author of The Three Musketeers. Full of melodrama and coincidence, shamelessly studded with every possible romantic cliche and period flourish. But it's absolutely wonderful. -- Michael Dirda
- The Last Cavalier, by Alexandre Dumas;
The story of a wedding night. It takes on subjects of universal interest and creates a small but complete universe around them. McEwan's prose is as masterly as ever. No one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan's accomplishment. -- Jonathan Yardley
- On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan (Doubleday).
translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar Straus Giroux). Not since Gabriel Garcia Marquez has a Latin American redrawn the map of world literature so emphatically. -- Ilan Stavans
- The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano;
To write a fat novel about the Vietnam War nearly 35 years after it ended is an act of literary bravado. To do so as brilliantly as Denis Johnson has is positively a miracle. -- David Ignatius
- Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson (FSG).
Today, at the remove of a century, she seems greater than many earlier critics allowed. A meticulous, generous biography. -- Diane Johnson
- Edith Wharton, by Hermione Lee (Knopf).
A model presidential biography. Now, at last, we have the book that is right for the man. -- Jonathan Yardley
- FDR, by Jean Edward Smith (Random House).
Rampersad's chronicle of Ellison's long, turbulent and finally peaceful marriage is the most compelling and troubling part of this consistently intriguing, thoroughly researched book. -- Jabari Asim
- Ralph Ellison: A Biography, by Arnold Rampersad (Knopf).
The resources of the sea are as limited as those of land and air, and our penchant for exploiting them to the point of extinction is appalling. A passionate and immensely important book. A galvanizing call to arms. -- Jonathan Yardley
- The Unnatural History of the Sea, by Callum Roberts (Island Press).
A lovely story about the Holocaust might seem like a grotesque oxymoron. But here is a true story -- of human empathy and its opposite -- that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully. -- Susie Linfield
- The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, by Diane Ackerman (Norton).
Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2007
Set in the mountains of northern Wales during the months surrounding D-day, "The Welsh Girl" is a careful, deceptively simple novel of war and moral consequence: A 17-year-old barmaid and daughter of a shepherd befriends a German prisoner of war. How they each translate these ill-timed affections forms the ballast of the novel. What Davies manages to evoke in this straightforward tale, marked by irony and fate, is a beautifully wrought portrait of humanity under duress — held by the greater forces of land and time.
- The Welsh Girl By Peter Ho Davies Houghton Mifflin
Few other writers could dare to capture the shadowy cataclysm of 9/11 and pull it off with such masterful precision. In its close-focus lens on one man's walk away from the collapsing Trade Center towers, "Falling Man" is a spare, brilliant novel that evokes an elegiac world of ash and anguish. Because Don DeLillo has used his breathtaking narrative intelligence with such restraint, he manages to take that sunny September morning of 2001 and render history into myth.
- Falling Man By Don DeLillo Scribner
Irish writer Anne Enright won the 2007 Man Booker Prize for "The Gathering," which has shades of classic tales of the body being borne, bringing to mind William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying." The nine surviving siblings of the Hegarty family are in Dublin to bury their brother Liam, who walked into the ocean to end his pain. The narrator, his 39-year-old sister, delivers a memory-laden story as marked by the sad errors of the past as it is by Enright's shimmering prose.
- The Gathering By Anne Enright Black Cat
This sprawling, acid-mad Vietnam novel, which won the National Book Award, is Denis Johnson at his visionary best: muscle-bound prose, Mistah-Kurtz characters, and a Byzantine military-intelligence clubhouse that even Yossarian of "Catch 22" would find daunting. Johnson captures the rock'n'roll hubris of the Vietnam War and visits it upon a full-throttle plot of sinister intrigue. His memorable cast includes an aging CIA cowboy, retired from Psy Ops, who sustains himself with old football memories and Bushmills whiskey.
- Tree of Smoke By Denis Johnson Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In structure and design, this small and exquisite novel is markedly different from Ian McEwan's magisterial "Atonement," but it still possesses the author's moody worldview, wherein beauty and human intimacy are frailties too often crushed by chance. A newly married couple in mid-20th-century England, bringing their worries and their pasts to their wedding night, try only to connect. The result is a cello suite of sadness, encompassing an entire swatch of English culture and the legacy of roads not taken.
- On Chesil Beach By Ian McEwan Doubleday
This collection of stories from Irish master William Trevor is so finely wrought, delivered with such confidence and grace, that even their most shocking consequences possess the inevitability of truth unfolding. In his unerring tales of redemption and regret, Trevor can deliver a glimpse of all Ireland through one simple dilemma: a man protecting his dementia-ridden wife, a broken soul facing the cruelties of his past. But because Trevor's fatalism is always trumped by his humanity, even the darkest of these stories can be consoling. His is a moral sensibility even larger than the world of sorrows he assumes.
- Cheating at Canasta By William Trevor Viking
Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s sometimes stirring, occasionally sad, and often sardonic writings across the five decades from Harry Truman to George Bush form a labor-intensive public works project for his fellow historians and biographers. The work is both gossipy and profound, as befits a prize-winning writer who doubled as a longtime Democratic policy adviser. It is always candid, never dull.
- Journals: 1952-2000 By Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., edited by Andrew and Stephen Schlesinger Penguin
In this book, the posthumous legacy of an American original, David Halberstam approaches the story of the Korean War like the journalist he often was, but tells the tale like a historian. Halberstam, who died last April at 73 in a car accident, took as his starting point conversations with war veterans, as a reporter would, working his way toward documents and "official centers of decision-making.'' The result is compelling and insightful, one of the best of Halberstam's more than 20 books.
- The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War By David Halberstam Hyperion
The second volume of Atkinson's history of the southern campaign in World War II shows a profound grasp of tactics and strategy, while his use of quotes brings the conflict alive with a terrible vividness. While author Rick Atkinson argues for the necessity of the horrific 608-day campaign to take the fortified Italian hill town of Monte Cassino, he never forgets what war did to the men who fought it, nor the price they paid.
- The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 By Rick Atkinson Holt
This history points to the flaws in intelligence leading up to the Iraq war as merely the latest major misstep by the Central Intelligence Agency, a bureaucracy that has rarely accomplished its central mission since its birth, the author argues. The work, which won a National Book Award, is scathingly critical, carefully researched and smartly written, painting a frightening portrait of a hapless bureaucracy whose drastic miscalculations — from Korea through the Cold War to Vietnam and now Iraq — have cost the United States dearly in blood, treasure, and prestige.
- Legacy of Ashes By Tim Weiner Doubleday
This modern-day memoir tells the story of two Haitian brothers, the writer's father and her uncle. For 30 years, they were separated, one having immigrated to America, the other remaining behind. They were finally united only in death, buried in a cemetery in Queens, N.Y. The book finds sad but poetic truths in the relentless hardships of Haiti and its people. And, in a heartbreaking postscript, when her uncle finally decides to join his brother in America, he dies in a detention center in Miami, waiting to see whether he'll be granted asylum.
- Brother, I'm Dying By Edwidge Danticat Knopf
This biography of the comic strip legend feels written from the inside out, despite the author never having had the opportunity to interview Schulz, who died in 2000. David Michaelis had to depend, instead, on conversations with family members and research into materials at Schulz's California studio. The triumph of the book is that it takes readers inside the mind of a fundamentally solitary man whose simple-looking postwar comic strip became a visual reflection, interpretation of, and guide to the times.
- Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography By David Michaelis HarperCollins
This biography of Ralph Ellison asks: What happened to this promising writer's long-awaited second novel, and to the man himself? And after asking the questions, it provides answers. The acclaim that greeted Ellison's 1952 debut novel "Invisible Man" consolidated his status as a cosmopolitan, certified New York intellectual. But the sparkling achievement, and the honors that followed, bore their own cost over the ensuing decades. The author chronicles the toll that Ellison's position took on him, in a book that lifts the veil and reveals the personality behind the persona.
- Ralph Ellison By Arnold Rampersad Knopf
The author of this tale, a National Book Award finalist, argues that the rebellions, threats, and warnings of the post-revolutionary years played a key role in the framing of the US Constitution. This populist vision places the book squarely among recent revisionist studies that have given prominence to grassroots agitation in the origins of both the American Revolution and the Constitution that followed.
- Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution By Woody Holton Hill & Wang
Last Edited on: 12/28/07 9:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1