2017 was for me an uneven year of reading. I read 39 books that included novels, short story collections, and a play. A few books I could not finish and two which I started I still aim to complete. The translated fiction that I read were from France, Mexico, Korea, Brazil,  and Israel. I read two classics both of which were disappointing: Moby Dick and One Hundred Years of Solitude. My expectations may have been too high.

Miss Burma was prescient about Aung San Suu Kji and her inaction toward the humanitarian plight of the Rohingya. The most challenging read was Compass. It is worth the challenge, particularly if you are interested in the Levant. I can’t decide if it is non-fiction wrapped in a novel. It might take two readings for me to decide. The best short story collection was Claire Beams’ We Show What We Have Learned. The other short story collections were also quite good and it was particularly interesting to read the diversity of styles and cultures reflected in writers such as Penelope Lively and Alberto Urrea. Giraffe may have been the most interesting historical fiction I read, because the history is obscure and it is well written. Exit West was an excellent novel as noted by its appearance on many award lists. For those who a flavor for medical fiction the heart is very human and compelling. If you have an interest in Holocaust related fiction Night and Mischling are good choices. The latter is about Dr. Mengele. For a book club and within the so-called women’s literature genre I would highly recommend Before Everything. It is an end-of-life novel that is a celebration.

Unfortunately I did not have one book that stood apart from the others. On the whole I am not disappointed in what I read in 2017, but look forward to the promise of 2018.

Reading Colin Thubron has encouraged me to read travel literature in 2018. I aim to read Virginia Woolf, more Shakespeare, and perhaps some biography and non-fiction. As always my choices are serendipity, depending on what is available at Brooklyn’s wonderful Central Library. If 2018 is the equivalent of 2013 I will be satisfied.

SS=Short Stories      HF=Historical Fiction     TL= Translated Fiction


The Strangler Vine                                         M.J. Carter                           HF

Giraffe                                                         J.M. Ledgard                          HF

Abahn Sabana David                                      Kazim Ali                     TL-France


One Hundred Years of Solitude                      Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir                   Susan Daitch


The Year of the Runaways                             Sunjeev Sahota

Here I Am                                                    Jonathan Safran Foer

Every Day Is For the Thief                              Teju Cole


The heart                                                     Maylis de Kerangal       TL-France

Imagi e Me G ne                                            Adam Haslett


Miss Burma                                                   Charmaine Craig                 HF

Do Not Say We Have Nothing                          Madeleine Thien                  HF


The One Inside                                              Sam Shepard

We Show What We Have Learned                    Claire Beams                    SS

Cup of Rage                                                   Stefan Tobler            TL-Brazil

Mischling                                                       Affinity Komar                  HF

Pond                                                            Claire-Louise Bennett         SS


Sudden Death                                              Alvaro Enrigue          TL-Mexican

Malefemmena                                              Louisa Ermelino

Olive Kitteridge                                           Elizabeth Strout              SS

Night                                                          Elie Wiesel                     TL, HF

Moonglow                                                    Michael Chabon


Autumn                                                      Ali Smith                        HF

Days Without End                                        Sebastian Barry              HF


Human Acts                                                  Chun Doo-hwan       TL-Korean

Exit West                                                       Moshin Hamid

Judas                                                              Amos Oz                    HF

4321                                                               Paul Auster                 HF


Autopsy of a Father                                        Pascale Kramer       TL- French

Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes                             Tamar Yellin                  SS

Compass                                                        Mathias Enard          TL-French


The Water Museum                                         Alberto Urrea                 SS

The Purple Swamp Hen                                   Penelope Lively               SS

The Prague Sonata                                          Bradford Morrow             HF


Night of Fire                                                   Colin Thubron

Before Everything                                           Victoria Redel

A Legacy of Spies                                            John Le Carre

The Wolf of Sarajevo                                       Matthew Palmer             HF

King Lear                                                        Shakespeare