Best Fiction of 2011

Elaine Szewczyk, Editor

While selecting this year’s best fiction, Kirkus’ reviewers and I engaged in a lot of arm wrestling, chair hurling and booze swilling. Not really. Though I may have just nailed the key elements of an Ernest Hemingway novel. The process was more cheery than all that: we singled out the books we loved reading most, the ones we would recommend to friends. And that’s where you come in. Whether you like mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, good ole’ fashioned literary novels—we have something for you.


11/22/63 by Stephen King
by Stephen King
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
by Haruki Murakami
AMERICAN MASCULINE by Shann Ray
by Shann Ray
ANNABEL by Kathleen Winter
by Kathleen Winter
THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach
by Chad Harbach

BACK OF BEYOND by C.J. Box
by C.J. Box
BLOODMONEY by David Ignatius
by David Ignatius
BRIGHT AND DISTANT SHORES by Dominic Smith
by Dominic Smith
THIS BURNS MY HEART by Samuel Park
by Samuel Park

THE CALL by Yannick Murphy
by Yannick Murphy
CLOSE YOUR EYES by Amanda Eyre Ward
by Amanda Eyre Ward
THE COMPLAINTS by Ian Rankin
by Ian Rankin
A CUPBOARD FULL OF COATS by Yvvette Edwards
by Yvvette Edwards
DEAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS by Donna Leon
by Donna Leon
ECHOES OF THE DEAD by Sally Spencer
by Sally Spencer
EMBASSYTOWN by China Miéville
by China Miéville
THE EMPTY FAMILY by Colm Tóibín
by Colm Tóibín
EYES WIDE OPEN by Andrew Gross
by Andrew Gross

FAITH by Jennifer Haigh
by Jennifer Haigh
THE FAMILY FANG by Kevin Wilson
by Kevin Wilson
WITH FATE CONSPIRE by Marie Brennan
by Marie Brennan
THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ by Anne Enright
by Anne Enright
GALORE by Michael Crummey
by Michael Crummey

THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR by Don Winslow
by Don Winslow
THE GRIEF OF OTHERS by Leah Hager Cohen
by Leah Hager Cohen
GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark
by Marcia Clark
THE HUM AND THE SHIVER by Alex Bledsoe
by Alex Bledsoe
THE INFERNALS by John Connolly
by John Connolly

THE INFORMANT by Thomas Perry
by Thomas Perry
THE KING OF DIAMONDS by Simon Tolkien
by Simon Tolkien
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN by Adam Ross
by Adam Ross
LAST MAN IN TOWER by Aravind Adiga
by Aravind Adiga
THE LEFTOVERS by Tom Perrotta
by Tom Perrotta

IN THIS LIGHT by Melanie Rae Thon
by Melanie Rae Thon
LUCIFER'S TEARS by James Thompson
by James Thompson
THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman
by Lev Grossman
THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides
by Jeffrey Eugenides
THE MIGHTY WALZER by Howard Jacobson
by Howard Jacobson

MISTERIOSO by Arne Dahl
by Arne Dahl
A MOMENT IN THE SUN by John Sayles
by John Sayles
MOONDOGS by Alexander Yates
by Alexander Yates
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern
by Erin Morgenstern
NOW YOU SEE ME by S.J. Bolton
by S.J. Bolton

OPEN CITY by Teju Cole
by Teju Cole
OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY by Justin Cartwright
by Justin Cartwright
THE OUTLAW ALBUM by Daniel Woodrell
by Daniel Woodrell

THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain
by Paula McLain
PARTITIONS by Amit Majmudar
by Amit Majmudar
PICTURES OF YOU by Caroline Leavitt
by Caroline Leavitt
THE PRAGUE CEMETERY by Umberto Eco
by Umberto Eco
THE QUANTUM THIEF by Hannu Rajaniemi
by Hannu Rajaniemi

REAMDE by Neal Stephenson
by Neal Stephenson
RED ON RED by Edward Conlon
by Edward Conlon
THE RICHEST HILL ON EARTH by Richard S. Wheeler
by Richard S. Wheeler
RIZZO'S FIRE by Lou Manfredo
by Lou Manfredo
THE ROCK HOLE by Reavis Z. Wortham
by Reavis Z. Wortham

RULE 34 by Charles Stross
by Charles Stross
SCHOLAR by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
THE SCRAPBOOK OF FRANKIE PRATT by Caroline Preston
by Caroline Preston
THE SECRET HISTORY OF COSTAGUANA by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes
by Julian Barnes

THE SISTERS by Nancy Jensen
by Nancy Jensen
THE SLY COMPANY OF PEOPLE WHO CARE by Rahul Bhattacharya
by Rahul Bhattacharya
THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbø
by Jo Nesbø
SNUFF by Terry Pratchett
by Terry Pratchett
SPELLBOUND by Blake Charlton
by Blake Charlton

STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett
by Ann Patchett
STEALING MONA LISA by Carson Morton
by Carson Morton
THE STRANGER YOU SEEK by Amanda Kyle Williams
by Amanda Kyle Williams
THE SUBMISSION by Amy Waldman
by Amy Waldman
THICK AS THIEVES by Peter Spiegelman
by Peter Spiegelman

TRACKERS by Deon Meyer
by Deon Meyer
THE TRAGEDY OF ARTHUR by Arthur Phillips
by Arthur Phillips
THE TRINITY SIX by Charles Cumming
by Charles Cumming
TROPHY by Michael Griffith
by Michael Griffith
THE TROUBLED MAN by Henning Mankell
by Henning Mankell

TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante
by Alice LaPlante
UNTIL THE DAWN'S LIGHT by Aharon Appelfeld
by Aharon Appelfeld
VERY BAD MEN by Harry Dolan
by Harry Dolan
WE THE ANIMALS by Justin Torres
by Justin Torres
WE OTHERS by Steven Millhauser
by Steven Millhauser

WHEN THE SAINTS by Dave Duncan
by Dave Duncan
THE WOODCUTTER by Reginald Hill
by Reginald Hill
THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME by Jean Thompson
by Jean Thompson