Best Fiction of 2012


Elaine Szewczyk, Editor

The 100 books on this year's fiction list encompass a range of categories. Debuts, story collections, thrillers, mysteries, translations, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical fiction—there's something for every taste. Among the highlights of 2012: Ben Fountain's superb first novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (read this book, tell your friends!); French author Philippe Claudel's The Investigation, a moody (and funny) tale for Kafka fans; and master artist Chris Ware's Building Stories, a gorgeous book that you'll piece together like a detective. We hope you enjoy them all.

CITY OF THE LOST by Stephen Blackmoore
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 3, 2012

"A head-shakingly perfect blend of zombie schlock, deadpan wit, startling profanity, desperate improvisation and inventive brilliance."
A remarkable debut, LA noir with eye-bulging refinements, from a poet and short-story writer who says of himself: "As a writer he strives to be a hack. Hacks get paid. He's not sure if hacks talk about themselves in the third person, though. That might just be a side effect of his meds." Read full book review >
THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS by Chris Bohjalian
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 17, 2012

"A gruesome, unforgettable exposition of the still too-little-known facts of the Armenian genocide and its multigenerational consequences."
The granddaughter of an Armenian and a Bostonian investigates the Armenian genocide, discovering that her grandmother took a guilty secret to her grave. Read full book review >

ACCIDENTS OF PROVIDENCE by Stacia M. Brown
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 14, 2012

"A romping good read that is character-driven yet intellectually provocative on issues of law, religion and morality—historical fiction at its best."
Brown's first novel is a heart-poundingly vivid, intellectually provocative account of the legal case against a fictional woman condemned to death for secretly burying her dead, illegitimate newborn in Cromwell's England. Read full book review >
Released: June 19, 2012

"There is much to admire in this novel. The subtle insight on sibling rivalry and the examination of love make for a poignant debut."
Brunt's first novel elegantly pictures the New York art world of the 1980s, suburban Westchester and the isolation of AIDS. Read full book review >
TARNISHED KNIGHT by Jack Campbell
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Oct. 2, 2012

"All the more impressive for being a significant departure from previous entries."
Beginning a sort of spinoff series taking place, chronologically, between Campbell's last two outings (Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught, 2011, and Beyond The Frontier: Invincible, 2012) wherein the influence of "Black Jack" Geary is palpable, though he makes no actual appearance. Read full book review >

A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME by Wiley Cash
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 17, 2012

"An evocative work about love, fate and redemption."
Up beyond Asheville, near where Gunter Mountain falls into Tennessee, evil has come to preach in a house of worship where venomous snakes and other poisons are sacraments. Read full book review >
HELL OR HIGH WATER by Joy Castro
Released: July 17, 2012

"Castro's first mystery is fierce and intense, with both harrowing depictions of New Orleans after Katrina and psychological mayhem for its troubled heroine, who crawls under your skin and lingers there long after you've finished reading. A sequel is in the works."
Salvaging lives in post-Katrina New Orleans is no picnic. Read full book review >
TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon
Released: Sept. 11, 2012

"The evocation of "Useless, by James Joyce" attests to the humor and ambition of the novel, as if this were a Joyce-an remix with a hipper rhythm track."
An end-of-an-era epic celebrating the bygone glories of vinyl records, comic-book heroes and blaxploitation flicks in a world gone digital. Read full book review >