Fiction

Twelve Important Fiction Books of 2023!

As the end of 2023 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 2023’s Best Books, 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….  

Fifteen Important Theology Books of 2023

 *** What one novel would you add to this list?

Let Us Descend: A Novel

Jesmyn Ward

(Scribner)

“‘Let us descend,’ the poet now began, ‘and enter this blind world.’” —Inferno, Dante Alighieri

Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.

From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land—the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.


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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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