Mark's Top 10 Books of 2020

2020. Enough has been said about this year. Despite the global pandemic, the election and the general craziness of the times I did what I’ve always done, I read. I read a lot of old books and a lot of new books. This list is simply ten of my favorite books that were published this year. There were many books that I loved and inspired me, but now, in November, these are the ones that stand out the most. 

The Other Name: Septology I-II Cover Image
By Jon Fosse, Damion Searls (Translator)
ISBN: 9781945492402
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - April 4th, 2020

Already a favorite writer of mine, the first two parts of Fosse’s sextet, SEPTOLOGY, exceeded my expectations. The novel follows a widowed painter as he talks to himself, his dead wife, his own döppelganger as well as younger versions of himself. The book is very acessible and the reader is quickly lost in the author’s profound meditations on God, love, art, addiction, and friendship. Without being pretentious, this is literature with a capital L and the book feels more like a symphony or a sculpture than fiction.

The Adventures of China Iron Cover Image
ISBN: 9781916465664
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Charco Press - October 13th, 2020

A historical romp. A feminist adventure. A South American western. There’s so many ways to describe this stunning novel and none of them come close. It’s moving and intelligent and funny and all of it is fun (so much fun). Follow China and her cohorts as they cross the Pampas of Argentina on horseback and covered wagon. Are there drunken orgies? Yes. But there’s also serious considerations of colonialism, culture, and nature that is never far away. A great novel.

Temporary (Emily Books) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895668
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Coffee House Press - March 3rd, 2020

Never has a novel about employment been so hysterical and fun. Of course, the ‘employment’ in Leichter’s brilliant debut could be a pirate ship as easily as a haunted house. An absolutely bonkers and singular look at our jobs, our souls, and our fates. The difficult balancing act of ‘fun and smart’ is handled with deft imagination and complete confidence.

The White Dress Cover Image
By Nathalie Léger, Natasha Lehrer (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781948980050
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dorothy, a publishing project - September 15th, 2020

I don’t normally enjoy novels about a character ‘trying’ to write a novel, but in Léger’s gifted hands the reader is given a jewel of a hybrid novel, a book that seamlessly vacillates between memoir, fiction, and the tragic story of real-life Italian artist Pippa Bacca. Don’t worry about the subject or that’s it’s the final third of a triptych - just let the language sweep you away.

The Discomfort of Evening: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450345
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Graywolf Press - August 18th, 2020

Winner of this year’s International Booker Prize, this novel focuses on a Dutch farming family wrestling with grief after the drowning of the eldest son. Seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, this visceral and haunting (and sometimes funny) book achieves a state of transcendence through the art of words.

Minor Detail Cover Image
By Adania Shibli, Elisabeth Jaquette (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811229074
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - May 26th, 2020

A slim and powerful novel about occupation, violence, and the crimes that history buries. Told in two parts, the first takes place in 1949 and portrays the rape and murder of a young Bedouin by Israeli soldiers. The second part is set in contemporary Palestine where a young woman becomes fascinated with the story of this tragedy. What follows is a haunting knife-blade of a novel that stares at the violent truth without blinking. 

The Clerk Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948830256
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Open Letter - September 29th, 2020

One of Argentina’s most exciting writers, Saccamanno’s slim novel tells the story of an office clerk in an unhappy marriage and yet, the book does so much more. Set in an unnamed city beset by guerilla violence, revolution, cloned dogs, and attack helicopters, the book feels like a day in the life of an innocouos ‘everyman’ but set in a grim future. A sharp, angular novel about marriage, the workplace, and the constant, often uphill battle for joy, it also asks: is there a place for love, goodness, and a belief in the future?

Ornamental Cover Image
By Juan Cárdenas, Lizzie Davis (Translator)
ISBN: 9781566895804
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - June 2nd, 2020

A strange and elegant book about art, gender, and an experimental drug. An unknown city is the setting of this beautifully subtle book that feels like the morning after unsettling dreams; things are askew and the reader is left to wonder why.

Ramifications Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - October 13th, 2020

A young man looks back on his youth in the 1980’s and the disappearance of his mother. What begins as a mystery is a thoughtful and profound meditation on family, youth, and the void left from secrets. A wonderful novel about Mexico, growing up, and the secrets of the past.

The Appointment: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982150174
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - September 1st, 2020

A hysterical, subversive, stream of conscious rant, all told from the examination chair of a doctor’s office. A young German, living in London, unburdens herself to a doctor. Brilliant and singular.

The Lying Life of Adults Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)
ISBN: 9781609455910
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - September 1st, 2020

Ferrante already gets enough praise and attention, however she deserves it. This novel, like her earlier novels, is razor sharp, deeply psychological, and unafraid to discuss what’s inside the hidden closets of every marriage. 

Article Type Terms: