As the end of 2021 draws near, we highlight some of the most important fiction books released this year…
Although some of these fiction books will appear on our Advent calendar of 2021’s Best Books (and no, we won’t reveal here which ones will be on that list), we won’t say that these are the 12 BEST fiction books — just that they are important ones that should be widely read and discussed…
We feature our novel of the year first, and after that the remaining book are in alphabetical order by the author’s last name….
A major work of contemporary fiction from a “leading light of international literature” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), Hanne Ørstavik, whose last novel, Love, won the PEN Translation Prize.
A thought-provoking, existential novel – as Liv searches for meaning and identity in her own life, she must find the words to connect, comfort and lead others.
Liv, an intense and reticent theologian, moves to a bitterly cold fishing village to take up a post as the church’s new pastor following the death of her friend, Kristiane. In the upper rooms of a large house overlooking the fjord, Liv plans her sermons and studies the violent interplay of Norway’s Christian colonial past. She trails downstairs into the apartment below for dinners and breakfasts with a widow and her two children. As Liv becomes acquainted with the villagers and their own private tragedies, memories bloom in passages that urgently question the unpredictable bedrock of language, and the peculiar channels of imagined experience as it might have been, if only there had been a different set of words, or an outstretched hand.
The past mingles darkly with the present, cascading in chilling images: a dog lying dead in the snowy plains, Kristiane’s teeth flashing as she laughs, a procession of singing, knife-carrying protesters curving along a river’s edge. Martin Aitken’s translation of this extraordinary novel rings with the brilliance and rigor of a master.