Stock photo of book pages from Pexels, August 15, 2017 - Caio Resende/Pexels
CAIRO – 16 December 2017: Editors for The New York Times Book Review have compiled their list of the 10 best books of 2017:
“Exit West” – Mohsin Hamid
Nadia and Saaed are young lovers who find themselves caught up in the middle of a civil war. Fleeing the chaos, the pair travel through a magic door that leads them into another country, far away from the unrest but also from anything they recognize. Through the use of magical realism, Hamid comments on the current on-going immigrant crisis in a starkly original manner.
“Autumn” – Ali Smith
A story about the past, present, future and the cyclical nature of time, “Autumn” is also the tale of the friendship between an elderly man and a young child. A complex exploration of time and our relationship to it, how we experience and live our lives both by the clock and that internal sense of the passage of time. “Autumn” is first in a planned series of novels called Seasonal.
“Pachinko” - Min Jin Lee
This generational tale of a Korean family spans from the early 1900s till the 1980s, and begins with a rich Korean family’s daughter facing shame for her unplanned pregnancy. When a minister marries her and brings her to Japan, she sets the course for the lives of her family in Japan, caught betwixt the mighty tides of history.
“The Power” - Naomi Alderman
A reversal of gender domination, this speculative sci-fi story explores our present time rocked by a strange new power that is bestowed to women all over the world; the ability allows them send shocks of lethal electricity through touch. As the women rise up to dominate the men who previously oppressed them, the truth behind the aphorism “absolute power corrupts absolutely” is revealed.
“Sing, Unburied, Sing” - Jesmyn Ward
Exploring the heart of America’s race relations in the South, “Sing, Unburied, Sing” tells the story of mixed-race 13-year-old Jojo, who yearns to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, struggling with drug addiction, recently learns his father is being released from prison, and takes Jojo and his younger sister on a road trip. Along the way, Jojo learns much about the true heart of America.
“The Evolution of Beauty” - Richard O. Prum
“The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us” expands on groundbreaking natural scientist Charles Darwin’s theories on how animal interests in beauty help to shape a species, leading to extravagant but risky evolutions such as the Peacock’s magnificent tail.
“Grant” - Ron Chernow
Primarily a biography of the U.S. General and President Ulysses S. Grant, Chernow also takes the time to compare the politics of the American Civil War to the tensions of today, shining a light back on American history to serve as necessary example for the current situation.
“Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” - James Forman Jr.
The rates at which African-Americans have been incarcerated by the legal system has been a long-standing issue of racism in America, but former public defender Forman takes a step further to explore how high-standing members of the African-American community in the 1970s were also instrumental in the ‘war on crime’ that saw many potentially innocent black men behind bars for being the wrong race, at the wrong time.
“Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder” - Caroline Fraser
“Little House on the Prairie” is a beloved American classic, but few know the story behind the book’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Fraser aims to provide a comprehensive, in-depth look at the real life behind the writer and her intersection with racial politics, including the Native Americans who once lived near site of the little house on the Prairie.
“Priestdaddy” - Patricia Lockwood
This autobiographical memoir follows the author’s childhood under a Catholic priest father and leads up to an incident in her 30s that leads her back under the roof of her parents, where she confronts the darker aspects of growing up in a religious family, all told with Lockwood’s famous poetic touch.