NYT Critic’s Top Books of 2016

The New York Times book editors released their picks of the top books of the year in Friday’s issue, a total of forty titles from the four critics.

At this point, after so many best books list have been published, many of the titles are expected, but there are a few surprises.

9781619027206_735ffJennifer Senior picks the most overlooked title of them all, Grace by Natashia Deón (Counterpoint Press), calling it a “dazzling, underappreciated debut novel about a runaway slave, the daughter she never gets to hold, and the saintly man who raises the child instead.” 

Michiko Kakutani gives further support to a novel that has been a favorite of her colleagues on the Book Review, but hasn’t been recognized by many other best books lists, The North Water by Ian McGuire (Macmillan/Holt; OverDrive Sample). Kakutani says, “This novel about a 19th-century whaling expedition is as gory as Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd … a gripping and original act of bravura storytelling that immerses us in a Darwinian world that is as unforgiving as it is bloody.”

9781627795944_84336In addition to listing the title as one of their top ten, the NYT BR featured the author on the “Inside the NYT Book Review” podcast, and Book Review Editor Pamela Paul gave it her personal recommendation in a Reddit discussion last week, 

“a fantastic literary thriller that … would appeal to anyone. Well, anyone who is OK with blood and gore. (It’s very, very dark.) But it’s essentially a gritty, plot-driven story with a very, very bad guy as its villain and a flawed hero at its center. The story takes place on a whaling ship headed to the Arctic in the 19th century, and things go very wrong.”

9780812994827_8a326In nonfiction, Kakutani selects The ReturnFathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar (PRH/Random House; OverDrive Sample), also a NYT BR top ten title and a  particular favorite of editor Greg Cowles, who says on the podcast that he’s been “pushing it into peoples’ hands all year.” The author, a novelist, writes about trying to find his father, who was kidnapped in Libya by Qaddafi. Says Kakutani, “In this beautifully chiseled book, the younger Mr. Matar chronicles his Telemachus-like search for his missing father, whose absence has haunted him for decades. It’s a detective story of sorts, with Mr. Matar trying to piece together what happened to his father after his arrest.”

Comments are closed.