Here are my favourite books of 2021. It was hard to whittle this list down to nine (even though I managed to pick up more than my usual share of duds for a single calendar year). It’s a lovely mix of new books, ones I’d had on my list for ages, and authors I hadn’t read before.
9. Silver Sparrow — Tayari Jones. The story of one man’s “legitimate” and secret families. Magnificent and beautifully written.
8. Chanson douce (Lullaby). One of the best thrillers I’ve read. I’d never have imagined that a story of a murderous nanny could be so clever and nuanced.
7. The Glass Hotel — Emily St John Mandel. A gripping account of the collapse of an international Ponzi scheme, and my favourite Mandel so far.
6. Our Man in Havana — Graham Greene. Such spectacular British satire. I laughed and laughed.
5. All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr. A WWII love story like no other.
4. Half of a Yellow Sun — Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Another great love story — both romantic and platonic — set during the Biafran war. This book is everything.
3. L’événement (Happening) — Annie Ernaux. Ernaux’s account of seeking an abortion in France in the 1960s. A remarkable read; it will stay with me forever.
2. Poor — Caleb Femi. A dazzling collection of poems about growing up on the North Peckham estate.
1. The Netanyahus — Joshua Cohen. Instantly my favourite book of the year. Cohen imagines a meeting between a Jewish American academic and Benjamin Netanyahu’s father. A comic masterpiece.