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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

best books of the decade

30. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - 2003

why: poorly written, plotline with several holes. pushing the limits of the so-called ' factuality' he stresses. Absorbing read though, once you don't take it too seriously. Shows that you don't need to write well to sell well, but if that a good thing or not remains to be seen.

29. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi - 2003

why: A tale of the triumph and importance of literature during wartime. Shows how novels are an assertion of identity and the importance of the freedom of choice.

28. True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey - 2000

why: Retelling the story of Australian folk hero Ned Kelly where he writes the story for his daughter . Although set in Australia, you could say this is one of the best Westerns in a while.

27. The Enchantress of Florence - Salman Rushdie - 2008

why: Large scale epic set in Florence during the Renaissance. Machiavelli and Akhbar the Great are characters in this tale.

26. The Damned Utd - David Peace - 2006

why: One of the best novels written about sport in a long time. Peace uses the stream of consciousness technique to great effect, giving an believable portrait of Brian Clough.

25. The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left - Ed Husain - 2007

why: Insightful book that takes you into the psyche of fundamentalism and youth. If the older English ever needed a wakeup call about being out of touch, this is it.

24. .Experience - Martin Amis - 2000

why : The memoirs of Martin Amis dealing with the death of his father, Kingsley Amis . A behind the scenes look at two great writers.

23. The Corrections - Johnathan Franzen - 2001

why: Literary realism at it's best. Huge, sweeping novel about a family in Midwest America and each of their drives, desires and life choices. It's both a return to the 19th century great novels and a starting point.

22. Snow - Orhan Pamuk - 2004

why: All about the political tensions and cultural clashes of modern Turkey. The narrator returns to see the country wasting away. Full of humor while retaining sympathy with its main characters.

21. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz - 2007

why: Dominican immigrant who lives in New Jersey and wants to be a sci fi writer. Both tragic and comic but always a fresh look at the US immigrant experience.

20. Memories of My Melancholy Whores - Gabriel Gracia Marquez -2005

why: The best author out of Latin America has still got it. With a nod to Lolita, Gabo keeps talking about love and aging. Still writing that magical realism style, with an energy you never tire of.

19. Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi - 2003

why: Ignoring the standard tale of sadness and oppression, Satrapi gives funny and amiable side to this story. At times the tragedy is there, but it never envelops the book in despair.

18. The White Tiger - Arvind Adiga - 2008

why: Nowhere is culture and society rapidly changing as in India today. This book gives a look at living in India during the fast times and how to start at the bottom and get to the top.If you're willing to do what it takes.

17. Middlesex -Jeffrey Eugenides - 2002

why: A strange gender changing, time spanning complicated novel. Past and present combine to give this novel literary force

16. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - 2002

why: A Bildungsroman told by a dead girl. Tale of coping with grief (or not coping as the case may be). Sebold manages to find the perfect mix for a story that could have been much darker.

15. District and Circle - Seamus Heaney - 2006

why: Heaney returns to his past themes to show us that while the subjects remain the same, the details surrounding them have evolved and been restructured.

14. .The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon-2003

why: First person narrative from a 15 year old autistic who is trying to find a dog murderer. A insightful look into the mindset of persons with autism and the difficulty they have with normal situations.

13. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer -2002

why: A story of self discovery, one that resonates with every immigrant and every romantic. Switching between story arcs, the author gives an original (but realistic) use of English.

12. The Blind assassin - Margaret Atwood -2000

why: a story within a story, of science fiction pulp and events which span the twentieth century. Experimental style set against a backdrop of important Canadian historical events

11. Peeling the Onion - Gunter Grass- 2006

why: The Nobel Prize winner comes out with the truth that he was in the Waffen SS. Shocking for a man who set himself up as a moral voice but showed great bravery too.

10. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami - 2005

why: talking cats ,UFOs and magic lands. very strange. Murakami gives us his usual mix of suspense , humor and magical realism. In a complex plot that insists you reread.

9. The Plot against America - Phillip Roth-2004

why: An alternative history , political novel. Extremely unlikely but Roth writes everything with such detail that you have no problem thinking it possibly could have happened just like he said

8. Never Let me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro - 2005

why: a superb Sci-Fi story , that subtly talks about how death is waiting on everyone. Is there any genre that this author can't dominate?

7. Life of Pi - Yann Martel - 2001

why: The bestselling of the Booker Prize winners. Strange and very eerie. Possibly allegorical, thoroughly entertaining.

6. Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald - 2001

why: A masterpiece about a man's search for his history. One of the best from postwar Germany, which tells about the current generation coming to terms with the aftereffects of World War II.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling - 2007

why: How often does a bestseller be a great literary work? Never until the Harry Potter series came out. A seamless blend of high and low culture, probably the first time anyone has ever wished for a 700 page book to be longer. And how often have you heard someone say " All I ever read is Harry Potter"?

4. White Teeth - Zadie Smith - 2000

why: The novel that launched Zadie Smith. A story about immigration in wartime London and a friendship of two boys despite cultural differences. A sympathetic and humorous look at how we're similar.

3. . Youth - J.M. Coetzee - 2003

why: Fictionalized memoirs that opened a new genre. A story about living in a different society where no one relates to you. Something every at some time or the other has experienced

2. Atonement - Ian McEwan - 2002

why: Imagination, multiple views, the nature of perception. A forceful story matched with tremendous prose to back it up.

1. The Road - Cormac McCarthy - 2006

why: Adventure book about a father and son traveling through an American wasteland. Heartbreaking , but in a throwback style to the classic epics.

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