- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Exit West takes readers on an imaginative story that tells a very contemporary reality. An unnamed city with an emotionally-charged refugee crisis exposes truths about the emotionality of the immigrant experience while the two protagonists, Nadia and Saeed, sort out their love story. Hamid weaves a novel regarding a pertinent topic with simple but poignant prose that is equally engaging and humbling.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
George Saunders’s first crack at a novel succeeded at spinning an engaging tale centered around the relationship between President Abraham Lincoln and his late son Willie. The emotional scenes between Lincoln and Willie are undercut by the comedic commentary of spirits reconciling their own deaths. Unconventional in its structure and a fascinating story, Lincoln in the Bardo is a mustread.
- The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Elif Batuman’s novel The Idiot tells the story of Selin, a freshman at Harvard University during the ‘90s. A bildungsroman complicated by the invention of email, Batuman takes her reader on a journey through the experience of arriving and settling into college. The daughter of Turkish immigrants, Selin navigates her relationships with her family, friends, but most importantly with an older student she has a crush on. The Idiot brilliantly delivers a touching coming of age story.
- South and West by Joan Didion
South and West is the product of the kind of writing that Joan Didion tells of in her famous essay “On Keeping a Notebook.” The acclaimed author’s musings from notebooks she’s kept during her life in the ’70s amalgamate into a collection that paints a picture of her life. In these writings, Didion discusses topics from political division to her travels, but the book focuses heavily on insular life in the South.
- We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Since publishing Between the World and Me in 2015, Ta-Nehisi Coates has been a powerful voice in politics and social relations. We Were Eight Years in Power is a collection of essays written during the Obama administration that discuss the individual, the community, and the nation, and what those three entities are. This book is not merely an interesting read, it is an important one for understanding where and what the United States is today.
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Celeste Ng delivers a mystery narrative about a curious house fire that occurs in a quaint suburb of Cleveland. Little Fires Everywhere uses very classic narrative storylines from suburban tropes to the suspicious neighbor, and does so to tell a completely unique tale. The omniscient narrator implicates the characters and the reader into a sort of delusion that is as unexpecting as it is intriguing.
- Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Manhattan Beach tells the story of ambitious Anna Kerrigan who takes to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City for work during World War II. The novel exposes of the changing roles of women during the era, and does so through an engaging crime plot. Ultimately a feminist novel about the capabilities of women in male-dominated fields, Manhattan Beach romantically portrays gang culture in New York in tandem with compelling familial relationships.
- American War by Omar El Akkad
American War is an anxiety-fueled, American dystopia that follows the fate of current American crises. From surging war to disputes over the burning of fossil fuels, Omar El Akkad’s post-apocalyptic America is highly contentious and even tragic. What is most compelling about the narrative, however, is how uncomfortably familiar it feels. With the energy of science fiction, American War appeals to fans of fiction and history alike.
- My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Talient
Gabriel Talient knocked one out of the park with his debut novel My Absolute Darling. The novel tells the story of fourteen-year-old Julia, affectionately called Turtle, who lives with her survivalist father. His paranoia forces Turtle to learn survival skills like sharpshooting, but also subordinates her to his control. Still, Turtle is a twist on the prototypical, passive damsel in distress, and instead asserts her girl power to empower herself.
- Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami wrote the short stories in Men Without Women in 2014, but finally published them in English in 2017. Famous for his quirky short stories, Murakami delivers over and over again plot lines centered around broken men and their inability to maintain their relationships. Still, this narrative never ceases to engage readers and each story brings the reader into the realm of Murakami’s whacky imagination. Men Without Women is no exception and stands as another installment in wonderful stories by Murakami.
Victoria Horrocks is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org