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?

Chain Gang All Stars: A Novel

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

(Pantheon)

Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of the Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly popular, highly controversial profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators, and prisoners are com­peting for the ultimate prize: their freedom.

In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death matches before packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thur­war and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, Thurwar considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games. But CAPE’s corporate own­ers will stop at nothing to protect their status quo, and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.

Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors, to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alli­ance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a “new and necessary American voice” (Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review).


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