Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis was the most satisfying shock in my reading this year. Maybe because I’m translating Beowulf each day and working on such short lines, I loved the manic freedom of Jeet’s sentences. The world he describes, of opium dens, is fascinating, and he was electric on stage in Australia and the Netherlands reciting his poetry and rapping the lyrics from his band. A great writer and performer. And I just have to say the very best performance I’ve ever seen on stage by any writer was by Jeanette Winterson this summer at the Edinburgh Lit Festival. Even impromptu, in response to audience questions, she was able to say the most beautiful things in perfect sentences. More from A Year in Reading 2012 Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 The good stuff: The Millions' Notable articles The motherlode: The Millions' Books and Reviews Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, and follow The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.
I read Me and Mr. Booker by Cory Taylor for Jennifer Byrne’s First Tuesday Book Club in Australia, and I loved it. A kind of Lolita from Lolita’s point of view. And thinking of Australian authors, I have to say I think Gail Jones is absolutely brilliant, in her writing and also in person. Her most recent novel is Five Bells. I read Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses finally this year (I realize I was slow on this one), and I think it deserves all its acclaim. This book has it all: a compelling, surprising, important story, well-drawn characters, beautiful landscape description, reflection that has you wondering about your own life, etc. I reviewed Ross Raisin’s new novel, Waterline, for the Financial Times, and I think this second novel confirms him as an exciting talent. In the U.S., I blurbed Keith Scribner’s new novel, The Oregon Experiment, because I just absolutely loved it. In the midst of anarchists and chaos, he offers uncommon sympathy and grace in a marriage lost then found, and redemption from what we fear most, that we can’t run from who we are, that the past is waiting to ambush us. More from A Year in Reading 2011 Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 The good stuff: The Millions' Notable articles The motherlode: The Millions' Books and Reviews Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.