Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
One of the most talked about books of the last year was written in an intense three-month period by a 26-year-old debut author. It’s an elegant, intelligent, precise novel with a sly sense of humour about the evolving relationship between university students Frances and Bobbi – former lovers, current best friends, sometime performance poetry duo – and the entrance of an alluring, artistic older couple into their lives. Rooney’s writing is thrillingly confident, and she excels at sparkling dialogue that switches seamlessly between real-life conversations, emails and text exchanges. Kazuo Ishiguro describes her novel as a 'moment of real significance'.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
A loose, contemporary retelling of Sophocles' Antigone, this devastating novel is drawn as tight as a garrotte. The fates of two modern British Muslim families are forever entwined, and tested by loyalty, love and radicalism. The less you know about this book going in, the better, and without giving anything away, the most compelling review I’ve read (the New York Times) concluded: 'There is high, high music in the air at the end of Home Fire.' Please read it.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Ariel Levy’s devastating New Yorker essay ‘Thanksgiving in Mongolia’ that she wrote following the premature birth and death of her son seemed to be one of the most widely shared articles of 2013, and her unflinching memoir chronicles the immediate aftermath of that experience. Levy is brutal as she examines the adventure and heartbreak of making an unconventional life for herself, then watching it all fall apart. It’s a deeply felt memoir of wanting, and a reckoning for the you-can-have-it-all generation.
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Another literary masterpiece from Chabon, Moonglow is a dazzlingly inventive and subversive novel masquerading as a memoir of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. A thrilling story of family legends, secrets and lies, written by the only author who could pull off such an impressive feat.