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The Best Books of 2019

Since 1983, it has been customary for nearly every State of the Union address to include the line “The state of the union is strong.” That rote confidence, though perhaps misplaced in politics, seems warranted in the world of books: there are always good books being written. But is it possible that, in 2019, there were a slightly greater number of them? I had a terrible time whittling down my top ten this year. There was a longer than usual tally of titles, reputed to be excellent, that I wanted to read (but have not, yet), with the result that the ballot below may be more reflective of idiosyncratic consumption than objective judgment. The lineup is heavy on fiction, memoir, fiction that behaves like memoir, and memoir that impersonates fiction. The books of 2019 may be slippery to categorize, but the state of them is strong—a luscious year, like 1997 for Brunellos—and I’m thrilled that my job calls upon me to share some of my favorites, rather than my assessment of the nation’s affairs. To the list!


Mostly Dead Things,” by Kristen Arnett

This début novel follows a taxidermist, Jessa-Lynn, who lives in central Florida and is mourning the death of her father. Jessa-Lynn’s lover, who is also her brother’s wife, has run off. Her mother is taking apart her father’s specimens—he, too, was a taxidermist—and turning them into erotic art installations. Black humor meets lush prose; Arnett’s Florida—a world of sensuousness and danger—expresses the freedom that her characters seek, as taxidermy itself becomes a figure for queerness, sex, art, and loss.


The Divers’ Game,” by Jesse Ball

This dystopic fable imagines a society riven

Article source: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2019-in-review/the-best-books-of-2019

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