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Best Fiction of 2013

Whoops! We had a mixup on our January newsletter and may have sent you to the wrong page. If you're looking for our top 40 bestsellers in 2013, click on this link.

Otherwise, stay awhile and browse our favorite works of fiction published in 2013. You can also browse our Best of 2013 lists in the nonfiction, children's, and tween and teens categories.

Staff Pick Badge
The Lowland By Jhumpa Lahiri Cover Image
$27.95
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ISBN: 9780307265746
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 24th, 2013

The Lowland is nothing short of a triumph. Lahiri is at the
height of her powers and one of the best writers in literary fiction
today. I’d venture to say that if you’re going to read only one novel
this fall, this should be it. I’ll stake my reputation on the
recommendation.

The Lowland is the story of the Mitra brothers from
Calcutta: Subhash, the dutiful scholarly one, and Udayan, passionate and
opinionated. While Udayan becomes increasingly involved with the 1960s
Mao-inspired Naxalite political rebellion, Subhash goes to America and
adapts to life on the seashore of Rhode Island to pursue a graduate
degree. Udayan marries a studious girl named Gauri, only to become the
victim of his self-invited political violence. As always, Subhash
returns to India to clean up Udayan’s mess.

But that’s only the premise. The nuanced beauty of the novel is in
the consequences, and the psychological implications for Subhash and
Gauri in particular. The landscapes of Calcutta and Rhode Island serve
as an evocative background for a story that resists melodrama, instead
exploring the implications of youthful decisions and how they drive a
person’s destiny. Lahiri has a particular talent for showing the passage
of time in a manner that feels incredibly real and deep, not rushed or
glossed over. There’s a way the setting sinks into you over the course
of the book. She lets you feel like you’ve been fully immersed in her
world.

One question the book raises (without releasing spoilers) is: What
are the consequences of keeping secrets from our children, and what
happens when they find out the truth as adults? Lahiri’s answer might
surprise you. It’s not about the answer though; it’s the question that
will weigh on your mind and wrench your heart.

--Miriam


Staff Pick Badge
Tenth of December: Stories By George Saunders Cover Image
$26.00
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ISBN: 9780812993806
Published: Random House - January 8th, 2013

George Saunders has been an excellent short story writer for a long time, but was written off by too many readers who said his premises were too quirky or even bizarre. Fortunately for all of us, he kept on doing what he'd been doing, and life caught up. His sometimes sentimental, sometimes satirical tales of American society have just the right touch of absurdity for modern times.


Staff Pick Badge
The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) By Donna Tartt Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780316055437
Availability: Backordered
Published: Little, Brown and Company - October 22nd, 2013

An explosion in an art museum is the trigger for an ever-widening plot that just won't quit. Donna Tartt has the same magician's gift for narrative that John Irving and Charles Dickens possess--even she probably can't explain what makes her writing so compelling. We'd like to take the time to figure it out ourselves, but we're too busy turning the pages of The Goldfinch.


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The Flamethrowers: A Novel By Rachel Kushner Cover Image
$26.99
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ISBN: 9781439142004
Published: Scribner - April 2nd, 2013

It's the 1970s and a young woman throws herself into radical art and
politics, carried heedlessly toward New York and Rome astride a
motorcycle. More than a Kerouackian thrill ride, The Flamethrowers
is, in the words of novelist Lauren Groff, "a beautiful book . . . a
book full of truth . . . about innocence and speed and stepping up to a
dangerous brink." Highly endorsed.


Staff Pick Badge
At Night We Walk in Circles By Daniel Alarcon Cover Image
$27.95
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ISBN: 9781594631719
Published: Riverhead Books - October 31st, 2013

Decades back, the play "The Idiot President" was dangerous enough that a performance of it destroyed a theater company and got its author thrown in jail. But the current government sees it as just a nostalgia trip, so a revival tour through the provinces should be perfectly safe. Or so the actors think.

The narrator makes it clear from the beginning that things won't end well, but the mystery of exactly what will happen and why maintains tension throughout this very smart and searching novel.


Staff Pick Badge
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler Cover Image
$26.95
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ISBN: 9780399162091
Published: Marian Wood Books/Putnam - May 30th, 2013

A close and loving nuclear family--Dad, Mom, two girls and a boy--spins apart when one member of the household goes away. Describing the reasons for that departure and the shock it has on those left behind would make Fowler's novel sound hopelessly gimmicky, which it absolutely is not. She's created a context here for a story that develops with perfect naturalness, one that depicts personal bonds as well as it raises intellectual issues. This is a most impressive achievement.