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.

THE BUZZARD TABLE by Margaret Maron
Released: Nov. 20, 2012

"Maron (Three-Day Town, 2011, etc.) adroitly melds ugly American (open) government secrets with classic whodunit intrigue and stirs the pot by itemizing domestic travails that will touch readers' hearts."
Every family has secrets. Some are even worth telling. Read full book review >
THE CASSANDRA PROJECT by Jack McDevitt
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Nov. 6, 2012

"A top-notch, edge-of-the-seat thriller in which there are no villains, only mysteries."
This first collaboration from McDevitt (Firebird, 2011, etc.) and Resnick (The Doctor and the Kid, 2011, etc.), developed from a 2010 story by McDevitt (spoiler alert: don't read the story first), takes the form of a conspiracy involving the moon landings. And no, Stanley Kubrick didn't fake them. Read full book review >

OFFICE GIRL by Joe Meno
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 17, 2012

"A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending. "
Sometimes things just don't work out, no matter how hard we wish they would. But there's irony, so we have that going for us. Right? Read full book review >
THE YEAR OF THE GADFLY by Jennifer Miller
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 8, 2012

"A gripping thrill ride that's also a thoughtful coming-of-age story. "
Journalist Miller (Inheriting the Holy Land, 2005) makes her fiction debut with a smoldering mystery set in a New England prep school. Read full book review >
DEAR LIFE by Alice Munro
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 13, 2012

"The author knows what matters, and the stories pay attention to it."
A revelation, from the most accomplished and acclaimed of contemporary short story writers. Read full book review >

THREE STRONG WOMEN by Mary NDiaye
Released: Aug. 7, 2012

"Unrelenting in its anger, pain and sorrow, but hard to put down."
The three women personifying the complicated relationship between France and Senegal in French-born NDiaye's tripartite novel, winner of France's Prix Concourt in 2009, need all the strength they can muster as they struggle to survive. Read full book review >
PHANTOM by Jo Nesbø
Released: Oct. 2, 2012

"Where earlier novels provide a better introduction to Hole, this one best takes the full measure of the man."
The internationally popular detective series by the Norwegian author builds to a blockbuster climax. Read full book review >
SOMETHING RED by Douglas Nicholas
Released: Sept. 18, 2012

"A hauntingly affecting historical novel with a touch of magic."
Award-winning poet Nicholas (Iron Rose, 2010, etc.) treks into the wilds of medieval England in his first novel, a saga vibrant with artful description. Read full book review >