Cameron Davis ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
2014 was an important year for fiction. From the satirical to the otherworldly, some of the best fiction offerings were remarkably diverse in both style and subject matter. But the one thing they all have in common is sharp insight—enough to make readers think about the novels long after 2014 has passed.
10. Long Man by Amy Greene
Taking place during the Depression, this Appalachian-set novel explores what happens when a mother and daughter are forced out of the lands that are so essential to their identities. One part historical fiction and one part thriller, it’s worth a read.
9. The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
This novel is based off the real life experiences of a New York Times transcriptionist. Its main character lives a solitary existence, and gradually the burden of being a silent observer and bearer of other peoples’ words becomes too much for her to bear.
8. Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
An important read for Emerson students—especially those who hope to become part of the entertainment industry. It follows a winning heroine living in the 1960’s who proves that entertainment doesn’t have to be high brow to be valuable; and that there is a place for women in both comedy and television at large.
7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Individual struggle unites with societal struggle in this book. Set against a backdrop of chaos during World War II, Doerr’s novel chronicles the intersecting tales of a blind girl and impoverished boy—who is being primed for an elite military career. Here, the individual is poised against the collective.
6. There Must be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme
In a small sub-development in coastal Texas, people are dropping off like flies. Through the lens of a seemingly benign, dull narrator, the increasingly odd developments are revealed—lampooning suburban America all the while.
5. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
A self-deprecating, relentlessly funny narrator takes readers along on her journey through taking care of the people she cares about—even when it’s at her own expense. The dark, razor-sharp humor of this novel is laugh-out-loud funny and not to be missed. Another interesting component is the main character’s background as a Mennonite, and how it affects the way she sees the world.
4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This novel follows the journey of a post-apocalyptic Shakespeare troupe, seeking answers to a number of mysteries that are interwoven into their pasts. Even when the most fundamental things about the planet have been changed, there still remains a base need for art, for emotion, for connection of some kind. It is a sneakily optimistic tale in the grimmest of settings.
3. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
James’ novel depicts the ravages of political oppression and violence in Jamaica during the 1970’s. It focuses on the political life of a particular pop culture icon, Bob Marley, which makes the stories all the more poignant and disturbing.
2. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Somewhere in Delaware, there is an apartment complex of Latin American immigrants. Henriquez explores many of their interweaving and independent stories, emphasizing the importance of the recognition of those other cultures.
1. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Follows the adventures of a teenage runaway who crosses the globe many times through her adult life, eventually becoming involved in a war between a brainwashing cult and the revolutionaries who oppose it.
The original subject matter of these novels is what makes them so worth reading. They are not stuck in the rut of hot-button topics that will cease to be relevant in a few years. Instead, they cover unique ideas and people that suggest they will have staying power for years to come.