The New York Times releases 2016’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Below are only a few of the amazing books on the list.
Fiction & Poetry:
ANOTHER BROOKLYN. By Jacqueline Woodson. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $22.99.) Girlhood and the half-life of its memory are the subjects of this intense, moving novel, Woodson’s first for adults (she is a Newbery Honor winner) in years.
THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS. By Karan Mahajan. (Viking, $26.) Mahajan’s smart, devastating novel traces the fallout over time of a terrorist attack at a market in Delhi.
BEHOLD THE DREAMERS. By Imbolo Mbue. (Random House, $28.) In Mbue’s bighearted debut, set against the backdrop of the American financial crisis, a Cameroonian family makes a new life in Harlem.
BLACK WATER. By Louise Doughty. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Expecting to be assassinated, the hero of this excellent novel grapples with guilt over his actions in Indonesia.
COMMONWEALTH. By Ann Patchett. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) An engaging family portrait, tracing the lives of six stepsiblings over half a century.
HOMEGOING. By Yaa Gyasi. (Knopf, $26.95.) This wonderful debut by a Ghanaian-American novelist follows the shifting fortunes of the progeny of two half sisters, unknown to each other, in West Africa and America. Gyasi was one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honorees in 2016.
THE MIRROR THIEF. By Martin Seay. (Melville House, $27.95.) Linked narratives and various Venices reflect one another in this clever first novel.
NINETY-NINE STORIES OF GOD. By Joy Williams. (Tin House, $19.95.) This collection of micro-fictions is a treasure trove of tiny wry masterpieces.
THE NIX. By Nathan Hill. (Knopf, $27.95.) In this entertaining debut novel, full of postmodern digressions, a young professor tries to write a biography of his political activist mother.
STILL HERE. By Lara Vapnyar. (Hogarth, $26.) In this razor-funny novel, four Russian friends try to make their way in New York.
SWING TIME. By Zadie Smith. (Penguin Press, $27.) Two multiracial girls in North London dream of becoming dancers (one has talent, the other doesn’t) in Smith’s exuberant new novel about friendship, music, race and global politics.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. By Colson Whitehead. (Doubleday, $26.95.) Whitehead’s well-built, stunningly daring novel turns the historical freedom network from metaphor to reality, complete with tracks, locomotives and platforms. The winner of this year’s National Book Award for fiction.
AMERICAN HEIRESS: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. By Jeffrey Toobin. (Doubleday, $28.95.) In this riveting account, even the S.L.A. is shown some compassion.
BORN TO RUN. By Bruce Springsteen. (Simon & Schuster, $32.50.) Springsteen’s autobiography, explaining how he rose from Freehold, N.J., to international fame is both plain-spoken and eloquent.
EVICTED: Poverty and Profit in the American City. By Matthew Desmond. (Crown, $28.) A sociologist shows what the lack of affordable housing means as he portrays the desperate lives of people who spend most of their incomes in rent.
HERO OF THE EMPIRE: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill. By Candice Millard. (Doubleday, $30.) Imperialism and courage are on display as Churchill fights the Boer War in Millard’s readable, enjoyable book.
LAB GIRL. By Hope Jahren. (Knopf, $26.95.) A geobiologist with a literary bent makes her science both accessible and lyrical, and offers a gratifying and moving chronicle of the scientist’s life.
WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. By Cathy O’Neil. (Crown, $26.) A frightening look at the risks of the algorithms that regulate our lives, by a former hedge fund “quant” (she got her Ph.D. in math at Harvard) who became an Occupy Wall Street activist.
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR. By Paul Kalanithi. (Random House, $25.) A brilliant young neurosurgeon reckons with the meaning of life and death when he learns he has advanced lung cancer; a moving and courageous account.
YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT. By Jessi Klein. (Grand Central, $26.) Humorous riffs on being a woman by Amy Schumer’s head writer.