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The Economist: Selected “Best Book of The Year” Fiction

Looking for your next great fiction read? See what The Economist magazine recommends as their best books of the year!

Many of us are familiar with the best books of the year awards from well-known publishers such as the New York Times, Publishers’ Weekly, and NPR. Did you know that The Economist magazine also puts out a “best books of the year?”  Even though you may not be so interested in business and money matters,  their selections also contain some unique fictional picks.  All the books here are available through the Perkins Library. For this list, we have chosen some of their fictional titles, spanning from the last year winners in addition to some  other recent picks. So if you’re looking for some recommendations from a respected journal, you might like to try some of these titles.

Digital book (DB), braille (BR), large print (LT), and audio described videos (DVD) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by Linda Rossman

Reader Advisor

Perkins Library


A Brief History of Seven Killings

by Marlon James

DB 79940, Available as BARD Download

Fictitious oral history that explores the events and individuals surrounding the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during the political turmoil in Jamaica during the late 1970s. Violence, strong language, and descriptions of sex. 2014.

Download A Brief History of Seven Killings, DB 79940

Crow Lake

by Mary Lawson

DB 59867, BR 14366, Available as BARD Download

After their parents die, teens Matt and Luke Morrison give up their own university plans to raise two young sisters, Kate and Bo, in the northern Ontario badlands. Twenty years later, Kate, now a professor, returns to resolve past differences at a family reunion. Some strong language. 2002.

Download Crow Lake, DB 59867

Download Braille, Crow Lake, BR 14366

Exit West

by Mohsin Hamid

DB 87691, BR 22136, DB available as BARD Download

Set in an unnamed city with a strict social code, atheist Nadia rebels against the strictures put upon her. She falls in love with the gentle, religious-minded Saeed as their city falls into chaos and militias seize control, forcing the pair to flee together. Violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2017.

Download Exit West, DB 87691

Download Braille, Exit West, BR 22136

Family Life

by Akhil Sharma

DB 79042, Available as BARD Download

Forty-year-old Ajay reflects on his life–from playing cricket on the dusty streets of Delhi with his older brother Birju, to emigrating to America in 1979 when his father sent for them, and growing up in Queens until an accident changed all of their lives. 2014.

Download Family Life, DB 79042

Family Matters

by Rohinton Mistry

DB 56576, Available as BARD Download

Bombay, 1990s. Retired professor Nariman Vakeel suffers from Parkinson’s disease. When an injury leaves him bedridden, his stepchildren send him to recuperate with his daughter and her family. Relations and resources become strained as Nariman revisits his past and an unresolved love affair. Some descriptions of sex. 2002.

Download Family Matters, DB 56576

The Glass Hotel

by Emily St. John Mandel

DB 98955, Available as BARD Download

Vincent Smith is a bartender at an upscale hotel on Vancouver Island when she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a man running an international Ponzi scheme. She poses as his wife, but walks away after Alkaitis is exposed. Years later, she disappears at sea. Strong language. 2020.

Download The Glass Hotel, DB 98955

The Glass Room

by Simon Mawer

DB 72809, Available as BARD Download

Newlyweds Liesel and Victor, a Jew, commission Viennese architect Rainer von Abt to build them a modern glass and concrete house in Czechoslovakia. But they must let their new home pass into other hands when Nazis invade. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Man Booker nominee. 2009.

Download The Glass Room, DB 72809

Klara and the Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro

DB 102764, Available as BARD Download

Klara, an Artificial Friend, possesses great observational skills, and loves to watch the humans around her. When she is purchased to act as a companion for an ill girl, she studies the emotions of her new family closely and tries to learn from them. Bestseller. 2021.

Download Klara and the Sun, DB 102764

Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders

DB 86941, Available as BARD Download

1862. One night, soon after the death of his eleven-year-old son, Willie, President Abraham Lincoln goes to visit the recently interred body in Georgetown. There, he encounters the ghosts of the cemetery’s residents, including Willie, who must escape the limbo he is in. Some violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2017.

Download Lincoln in the Bardo, DB 86941

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

DB 81645, Available as BARD Download

College friends Willem, J. B., Malcolm, and Jude attempt to find their ways within their chosen careers. Each encounters difficulties, but it is Jude, the center of their friendship, who must face the biggest demons of all. Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex. 2015.

Download A Little Life, DB 81645

Milkman

by Anna Burns

DB 93320, Available as BARD Download

When a local “paramilitary” known as the Milkman begins pursuing the much younger middle sister of a family, she attempts to avoid him. But rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Winner of the Booker Prize. 2018.

Download Milkman, DB 93320

My Dark Vanessa

by Kate Elizabeth Russell

DB 99442, Available as BARD Download

When Vanessa Wye was fifteen she had an affair with Jacob Strane, her forty-two-year-old English teacher. Seventeen years later, Jacob is accused of sexual abuse by another one of his former students, and Vanessa is forced to re-examine her past. 2020.

Download My Dark Vanessa, DB 99442

Normal People

by Sally Rooney

DB 94878, BR 22649, LT 26331, Available as BARD Download

At school, popular football star Connell and lonely, quiet Marianne pretend not to know each other, although Connell’s mother works for Marianne’s family. A year later, both are studying at Trinity College in Dublin. They’ve both changed, but are still drawn to each other. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2019.

Download Normal People, DB 94878

Download Braille, Normal People, BR 22649

Orfeo

by Richard Powers

DB 78227, Available as BARD Download

Future America. When he calls emergency services for help with his dying dog, composer Peter Els sets in motion a chain of events that forces him to flee from Homeland Security. Els’s search for music in everything has people thinking he is a bioterrorist. Some strong language. 2014.

Download Orfeo, DB 78227

The Plot

by Jean Hanff Korelitz

DB 103471, Available as BARD Download

Jacob Finch Bonner, once a promising young novelist, now teaches in a third-rate MFA program. When a student tells Jacob the plot of his novel, Jacob stews. Then he finds out the student has died. Jacob takes the novel and publishes it. Someone knows he stole it. 2021.

Download The Plot, DB 103471

The Silence of the Girls

by Pat Barker

DB 92451, Available as BARD Download

After the fall of her husband’s city to Achilles, Queen Briseis becomes his concubine. When she catches the eye of Agamemnon and he demands her favors, Achilles rebels and refuses to fight. All the while, Briseis observes life in the war camp. 2018.

Download The Silence of the Girls, DB 92451

Stay with Me

by Ayobami Adebayo

DB 88833, Available as BARD Download

Yejide and Akin have been together since university. Akin vowed not to engage in polygamy, but Yejide has trouble getting pregnant. Then, Akin’s mother brings a young woman into their house and introduces her as Akin’s second wife. The pressure to have children and more tear at the couple. 2017.

Download Stay with Me, DB 88833

The Story of the Lost Child

by Elena Ferrante

DB 83565, Available as BARD Download

The fourth and final volume continues the depiction of the lifelong friendship between Elena and Lila. Now married with children, writer Elena returns in 1979 to their hometown, Naples. Lila, although a successful entrepreneur, has never left. Translated from Italian. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2015.

Download The Story of the Lost Child, DB 83565

Swing Time

by Zadie Smith

DB 86304, Available as BARD Download

Two biracial girls become friends through dance classes held in a London church, though they also live in the same public housing. One is raised among books and intellectual conversations. The other’s father is in prison. Their lives follow different, and unexpected, tracks. 2016.

Download Swing Time, DB 86304

Thirty Girls

by Susan Minot

DB 78459, Available as BARD Download

After her marriage falls apart, journalist Jane Wood travels to Kenya to visit a friend. Jane entrenches herself in the expatriate life, but soon is drawn to Uganda to investigate the kidnapping of thirty girls by rebels. Some violence and some descriptions of sex. 2014.

Download Thirty Girls, DB 92428

Trust Exercise

by Susan Choi

DB 94561, BR 22996, LT 26613, Available as BARD Download

In the 1980s, David and Sarah are both students at a competitive performing arts high school. Their passionate relationship is noticed by the school’s charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. Years later, Sarah publishes a novel about that time in her life, calling into question what really happened. 2019.

Download Trust Exercise, DB 94561

Download Braille, Trust Exercise, BR 22996

The Vegetarian

by Han Kang

DB 83452, Available as BARD Download

After blood-soaked images begin to haunt her, Yeong-hye renounces eating meat, despite living in a society where this is considered subversive behavior. Meanwhile, scandal, abuse, and estrangement send Yeong-hye careening away from her former self. 2016.

Download The Vegetarian, DB 83452

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