When I analysed my 2017 reading statistics, I was so pleased that there was a nye on perfect 50:50 split between English and foreign languages, that I decided this year’s awards would reflect that, with each having an English and a foreign language winner. This has resulted in a rather longer than usual list of 14, but so be it. All of these books are likely to stay on my shelves forever. It is also a surprising list. Only 3 out of the 46 ladies I read appear on it (discounting those in the two anthologies.) Yet 3 of the 13 Pushkin Press titles are present. Food for thought. Perhaps I should make a bee-line for the ladies from Pushkin Press next year?
But enough of 2018 . Today’s spotlight belongs to the winners of 2017. Links are to my full reviews. Only titles read for the first time in 2017 are eligible. Drumroll please.
Books that added authors to my completist reading list
Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles (1950)
Ursula Poznanski – Elanus (2016) (Not reviewed because there is no English translation. Why ever not? I feel a crusade coming on.)
Sarah Dunant: In the Name of the Family (2017)
Roy Jacobsen – The Unseen (2016) Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Christopher Morley – Parnassus on Wheels (1917)
Heinrich Böll – And Where Were You, Adam? (1951) Translated from German by Leila Vennewitz
Best short story collections
The Moth – All These Wonders (2017)
Things Look Different in the Light – Medardo Fraile (2014) Translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
Best travelling companions (I spent 2 months in Northern Germany, this year, so no surprises about the German connections here.)
James Hawes – The Shortest History of Germany (2017)
Cay Rademacher – The Wolf Children (2017) Translated from German by Peter Millar
The Biggest Surprises (i.e the ones I didn’t expect to be as magical as they were)
The Disappearances – Emily Bain Murphy (2017)
How A Ghastly Story Was Brought to Light by A Common or Garden Butcher’s Dog – Johann Peter Hebel (1811) Translated from German by John Hibberd and Nicholas Jacob
The I Capture The Zeitgeist Award (although not necessarily the same Zeitgeist)
Stav Sherez – The Intrusions (2017)
1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution (2016) Edited by Boris Dralyuk
A surprising list as I said earlier. The biggest surprise to me is that there are 4 short story collections on it. 6, if you count the novellas. 7 or 50% of the list, if you want to argue that Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is a collection of interconnected short stories, rather than a bona fide novel. Which I will because then, there is an even bigger surprise in store. Both of my books of the year are short story collections! And they are ….
2017 Books of the Year
And, for those who think I’m cheating, and insist on there being only one book of the year, I would pick the Bradbury, which would edge in front of Fraile, by a nose, simply because I’ve never read anything like it before.