This has been a year of great fiction, and it’s tempting to make proclamations: this was the year of long books, like Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire. This was the year of Elena Ferrante, when everyone seemed to be reading the last book in her Neapolitan quartet, The Story of the Lost Child (or all four at once). This was the year of short stories, when writers both dead (Clarice Lispector, Lucia Berlin) and living (Joy Williams, Edna O’Brien) published career-spanning collections. This was certainly the year of The Girl on the Train: congratulations, Paula Hawkins! What I’ve written so far leads me to believe that this was the year of the woman writer, though we’ll have to wait till VIDA comes out with its annual count to see if other publications agree.
This was the year of translation, from Ferrante and Knausgaard to Lispector and Pamuk and also such lesser-known writers as Valeria Luiselli with The Story of My Teeth and Eka Kurniawan, a celebrated Indonesian author making his English-language debut with Beauty Is a Wound. This was the year of poets writing novels—Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jill Bialosky’s The Prize—or maybe if you pair poet/Norton editor Bialosky with Bill Clegg (Did You Ever Have a Family), it was the year of publishing professionals writing novels. This was the year Sue Grafton ran out of nouns and was left with only a letter: X. This was the year Toni Morrison published God Help the Child; any year with a Morrison book is a good year. This was the year Paul Murray finally answered the question: how can you follow up the incomparable Skippy Dies? Answer: by making himself a character in The Mark and the Void.
However you want to label it, this was a year full of wonderful books.Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.