Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk: I found this one to be completely mesmerizing! I loved getting sucked in to Janina’s remote Polish village and her strangely off-kilter voice. If I had to pick only one fiction favorite of the year this would be it. I hope more works by Tokarczuk are translated into English now that she has won literary awards for both this one and Flights (which I’m reading right now).
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: This autobiographical novel by Vuong, an acclaimed poet, is told in the form of a letter from a young man, known as Little Dog, to his illiterate Vietnamese-American mother. Try this if you are in the mood for beautiful and emotionally powerful writing about growing up and complicated family ties.
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips: This novel, set in the remote Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, has a mystery involving two missing young sisters at the center but is really more of a character study of the lives of various women who are connected to the disappearance in different ways. The unique setting and the daily lives of the characters added extra interest to the suspenseful plot.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout: Strout excels at turning ordinary moments of ordinary lives into meaningful and surprisingly moving stories, and crotchety, complicated Olive Kitteridge is perhaps her best character to date. I loved catching up with her in Olive, Again. It made me realize how few fiction writers depict the lives of elderly characters with any real depth, which is something I found particularly moving in this one.