Being a bookworm myself, I thought it necessary to start this new decade by making a personal list of some of the best books published in two thousand nineteen. The titles featured on this list stand out not only because of their popularity (some of them being best sellers), but also because of their literary quality. If you’re a bookworm too, you might have read some of them already, in which case I hope this list sheds some light into something you’ve not devoured just yet; on the other hand, if you’re just starting to approach anglo saxon literature, I sincerely hope you give at least one of these books a chance. Without further ado, let’s get right into the list.
The Testaments- Margaret Atwood
Does the critically acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale ring a bell? Well, if you didn’t know, the series was based on the homonymous novel by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, and in 2019, Atwood surprised us with a sequel to her novel. The plot of The Testaments takes place fifteen years after the events of the first novel, following the struggle of women against an oppressive and tyrannical natalyst regime. Following the premise of The Handmaid’s Tale, which takes us to a dystopian future in which some women are forced to work as maids, and bear the children of their male masters. If you haven’t already, I recommend you read the first novel, or at least watch the TV adaptation, so you can fully enjoy Atwood’s fast-paced and thrilling narrative, which further explores the universe that she created in the first volume.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous- Ocean Vuong
This young poet’s first novel was definitely a hit. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is an epistolary novel that explores Vuong’s family history. Ocean Vuong’s narration acts as a window to the many struggles of Vietnamese immigrants in America: not knowing English, being alien to American culture, being trapped in precarious and underpaid jobs, nostalgia for one’s homeland, substance abuse and a constant feeling of otherness. It is in works of art like this that literature can attest to its potential for spreading empathy for those realities that are alien to us. If you’re looking to be affected and moved, this novel will fit you just right.
City of Girls- Elizabeth Gilbert
After her globally successful novel Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert made a comeback with a story set in the 1940s. The protagonist of City of Girls, Vivian Morris, looks back on her young years, as a naive 19-year-old who just failed College, ranking 361 in a class of 362, surpassing only a girl who had gotten polio. After her parents send her to her aunt’s theater, Vivian becomes the theater’s costume maker, a job that slowly becomes her life, and entangles her in a life full of love, eroticism and adventure. If you would like to be transported to the 1940s, and embark on a light, jolly and hope evoking ride to the past, Gilbert novel is surely the best choice.
Ghost Stories from Japan – Benjamin Lacombe
This novel is not just text, and that is one of the great features of Benjamin Lacombe’s artistic work. Lacombe has worked in tandem with a wide array of authors, and his art can be credited for giving a dark and melancholic twist to well-known narratives. His long list of works includes adaptations of Alice in Wonderland, a fictionalization of Marie Antoinette’s life, as well as illustrations of classic fairy tales like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood. In 2019, Lacombe enchanted his readers with eleven terrifying stories taken from Japanese folklore. It might be worth noting that this book was born of a collaboration with his wife, who happens to be Japanese, and introduced him to the ghost stories she heard as a child in Japan.
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