Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top 10 Novels of the 2000s





i had this book but someone stole it from me...

01_BestBooksoftheDecade


its ok....hope they learn something.




It’s natural for a child to assume that his or her own childhood is unremarkable. That’s one reason it takes Kathy, the narrator of Never Let Me Go, so long to twig that the very exclusive English boarding school she attends with her friends Ruth and Tommy is not quite ordinary. No responsible reviewer would reveal the exact nature of the horror that lurks there, but suffice to say that it’s thoroughly horrific. Ishiguro’s readers see the looming shadows before Kathy does, but by then it is far too late. It has always been too late for Kathy. She tells her story with a dry-eyed, almost plodding matter-of-factness that only makes her plight that much more plausible — her lack of artistry is a tribute to Ishiguro’s consummate artistry. As they grow up, the students at her school long for even the most basic trappings of a normal life — Ruth fantasizes about one day working in an office — but fantasies are all they will ever have. Set in a darkling mirror-England, Never Let Me Go is a work of science-fiction horror with a tragic payoff as devastating as anything in modern literature. It could easily be mistaken for a work of bioethics, or a genre thriller, but it’s more than either of these: Never Let Me Go is an existential waltz, set to the music of hopelessness, about ordinary people trying to wring some joy out of life before it ends, and trying not to flinch as the axe falls.



Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell



Clarke’s masterpiece began with a waking dream of an Englishman — a magician of some kind — chatting with tourists in Venice, somewhere around the turn of the (19th) century. That dream became an extraordinary novel: the enthralling, moving story of a rivalry between the only two practicing sorcerers in England, written in magnificent, stately, witty prose that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Jane Austen’s writing-desk. Clarke writes about the supernatural, but with warmth and empathy and sadness that are very much of our world.

02_BestBooksoftheDecade





The Corrections


03_BestBooksoftheDecade

A book that was made much of because there was much to make. In prose that sets the standard for 21st century eloquence, Franzen created a fictional midwestern family, the Lamberts, from the fictional city of St. Jude, then splayed them open for us so we could pick through their lives and their psyches in molecular detail. Chip, the clever, amiable screwup; Denise, the hard-driving lesbian chef; Gary, the “conventional” sibling, a banker who did everything his parents wanted him to and can’t understand why they don’t love him. As diligently as they work to mess up their own lives, they remain forever hopeful, even as the grand imperial America of the 20th century slowly falls to pieces around them.











Atonement


07_BestBooksoftheDecade


A novel in four set-pieces, each of which could be a novel in its own right. McEwan writes with uncommon delicacy and tenderness, but his plot is as powerful and remorseless as a walking artillery strike, and it finishes you off with what is, along with the secret of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, one of the great plot reveals of the decade. Atonementis the story of an unspeakable crime compounded by a terrible error. What McEwan never reveals is whether the atonement of the title is ever truly possible.






















Lush Life


08_BestBooksoftheDecade


Book critics talk a lot about “crime novels” that “transcend” their “genre.” Lush Life doesn’t transcend anything: it simply is a great novel of social observation. This is what Dickens would be doing if he were still in business. And this is where he would be doing it: the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a tiny area that hyperdevelopment has made, if anything, overly lush and full of life, crowded as it is with rich white hipster bars, tenements full of wannabe artists, poor black projects, and immigrant businesses of all kinds, all packed together into too-close quarters. One night a drunk white aspiring actor (i.e., a bartender) gets shot to death by two black teenagers. The witnesses are unreliable at best. The cops — cops are to Price what saints were to Michelangelo — who work the case do so cynically, sardonically, bitterly and with fanatical tenacity, all while uttering just about the best dialogue being written anywhere by anybody.





Then We Came to the End


09_BestBooksoftheDecade


In his first novel, set in the offices of a Chicago ad firm, Ferris synthesizes an entire office culture out of thin air, complete with running gags and stolen desk chairs and illicit affairs and secret angst, and then tears it apart before our eyes as the firm slowly goes to pieces. In a dizzying stylistic stunt, he narrates its decline and fall in the first-person plural — “we” tell the story — so that the entire staff serves as its own Greek chorus. As funny as The Office, as sad as an abandoned stapler, Then We Came to the Endis that rare novel that feels absolutely contemporary, and that rare comedy that feels blisteringly urgent.











American Gods


10_BestBooksoftheDecade

America is no place for a divinity. Our soil isn’t fertile that way — myths don’t thrive the way they did in the old world. Reading American Gods, you can see why it takes a foreigner — Gaiman’s a Brit — to see what is invisible to the natives: the old deities scratching out a seedy living all around us — Norse, Slavic, Irish, Egyptian, voodoo, Egyptian — brought over by generations of immigrants and then left to die. Together they re-enact the old myths here on our barren soil, and Gaiman shows us that, even here, they still have their old power.



























The Known World


05_BestBooksoftheDecade



Could a black man who was once a slave become a slave-owner himself? Jones’ epic novel begins with the answer to that question, and it’s yes. The novel’s central figure — one hesitates to say its hero — is Henry Townsend, a black slave-owner in Virginia in 1855. Jones explores Henry’s life from every possible angle, restlessly following minor characters through love stories, comedies and epic quests, skipping across decades of time and continents of space (The Known Worldis a gloriously tangled root ball of a book) but always returning to the story’s nightmarish core. Slowly, terrifyingly, it dawns on us that although Henry has his free papers, he’s the product of an evil world, and his soul will never be free.




















The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


04_BestBooksoftheDecade

This one was supposed to be on last decade’s best-of list: Diaz’s novel, the follow-up to his prizewinning debut story collection Drown, was 11 years in the making. It was worth the wait. Oscar Wao — it’s a Dominican transliteration of Oscar Wilde — is the nickname of a fat, science-fiction-writing, Dungeons and Dragons-playing Dominican nerd growing up in New Jersey. Diaz follows the story of Oscar’s family backward to the old country, and the reign of the tyrant Rafael Trujillo, which warped it beyond repair, and then forward to Oscar’s tragic and, strangely, exalted end.









0 comments: