DOMINION By Calvin Baker Less jaded than Colson Whitehead, less kitschy than Toni Morrison, Calvin Baker

is my favorite contemporary African-American novelist, and Dominion is his best book yet. —Dale Peck THE LAST SAMURAI By Helen Dewitt For its playful, steady, angst-attuned intelligence and its utter conceptual exceptionality. —Sven Birkerts SUZY ZEUS GETS ORGANIZED By Maggie Robbins A sweet-and-sour novel in verse that very flatteringly assumes the reader is as witty as the writer. — Craig Seligman, Bloomberg News KALIMANTAAN By C.S. Godshalk A novel about a self-appointed British raja on the island of Borneo, this book changed the way I thought about imperialism, just as Pat Barker’s trilogy changed the way I thought about the First World War. —Alice Truax Copies sold of David Markson’s last two novels before his new one, according to BookScan: 6,000 SEPHARAD By Antonio Muñoz Molina A true masterpiece of late-twentieth-century fiction, wrestling with the five centuries of Continental trauma from the Inquisition to the Holocaust in a way that is truly novel (in every sense of that word). —Daniel Mendelsohn TEXACO By Patrick Chamoiseau

An epic story that takes in everything from New World slavery to the aftermath of industrialization, fusing the oral traditions of his native Martinique with experimental writing. —Jean Stein THE DEBT TO PLEASURE By John Lanchester Pure wicked literary pleasure. Well received when published, but not nearly as well read as deserved. Ghostly progenitor: Nabokov’s Pale Fire. —Ron Rosenbaum THE LAKE By John McGahern A beautiful, hymnlike epilogue to the life’s work of this Irish master; it should be beloved by everyone who cares about life and literature. —Andrew O’Hagan DARK BACK OF TIME By Javier Marías A fascinating sample of his unique mixture of myth, autobiography, and satire. —Elaine Showalter METEOR IN THE MADHOUSE By Leon Forrest The posthumous volume of the most overlooked author of the last 30 years. He comments on what must be repressed to conceive history (and genealogy) along racial lines. —Milton Welch OUT OF SHEER RAGE By Geoff Dyer The best book about writer’s block someone actually managed to finish writing. —Marco Roth, n+1

BORN TWICE By Giuseppe Pontiggia This great [Italian] novel of fatherhood has been woefully underread in the U.S., perhaps because Pontiggia died soon after its publication here. —Janice Harayda, One-Minute Book Reviews WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD By Jincy Willett Beautifully written, seriously intended, very funny books with believable characters are extremely rare, and this is one of those rarities. —Kurt Andersen ACHILLES By Elizabeth Cook This is a meditative, intense retelling of the life of Homer’s hero, remarkable for its lush artfulness and the subtle intelligence of its prose. —Meghan O’Rourke, literary editor of Slate OH PURE AND RADIANT HEART By Lydia Millet Largely unsung. Not only did I love reading it (until the very end), but I also found the title resoundingly beautiful. —Helen Schulman VARIETIES OF EXILE By Mavis Gallant Canadian expats look lovingly home in this collection by Mavis Gallant, a kind of Alice Munro for those who got out. —Chris Beha, Bookforum MORTALS By Norman Rush Rush’s second best book (after Mating) is better than almost anyone else’s best book. —Benjamin Kunkel

EXPERIENCE By Martin Amis The cleverest and funniest and most moving memoir I’ve ever read, and each time I reread it I’m simply drunk with pleasure. —Jim Holt GRIEF By Andrew Holleran This slim but singularly affecting novel put in an appearance to conditional praise last June and, to my knowledge, sank thereafter without a trace. A meditation on personal loss and the loss of erotic/romantic possibilities for aging homosexual men (and by implication aging everyones) it’s bone-spare but plangent with meaning—the kind of novel that would be immediately hailed if it were written by a laconic European writer. —Daphne Merkin THE MUNCH MANCINI MYSTERY SERIES By Barbara Seranella Although her books are gritty and tough, Seranella wrote with a humanity and dry wit that transcended the genre. —Mia Geiger, Philadelphia Inquirer TRANSMISSION By Hari Kunzru Sleek and jangly, cerebral and humane—a novel about a young Indian software geek and the computer virus that swamps both Bollywood and Silicon Valley. —Dwight Garner, Times Book Review