Here’s one theme we haven’t seen yet in any of the “year in books” pieces. Though short-story collections rarely sell in big quantities, in 2009 a variety of collections enjoyed wide critical acclaim.
For starters, this week’s Entertainment Weekly picks Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders as their top work of fiction for the year. (Their No. 1 nonfiction pick is Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun; the rest of the list is in print only.) And New York Magazine’s just-published top 10 list (see below) puts Lydia Davis’s collection on top.
On our own compilation list, pulling together over of 20 the best of the Best of 2009 lists (which we will update for you tomorrow), 3 of the top 10 fiction titles were story collections. Drawing on the additional lists published since our tabulation, Daniyal Mueenuddin moves into a tie for third place; Lydia Davis’s The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, takes sole possession of fourth place; Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness, remains in the top 10, and Wells Tower’s story collection Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned will also join the list.
Among the runners-up receiving at least some “best of the year” votees are Maile Meloy’s collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, followed by Bonnie Jo Campbell’s National Book Award nominee American Salvage and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s stories The Thing Around Your Neck.
Then there was Oprah Winfrey’s first book club selection in almost a year–yes, stories, by Uwem Akpan. In May, short-story master Alice Munro won the third Man International Booker prize. And at the November National Book Award ceremonies, for the 60th anniversary “best of the NBA” fiction, four of the six nominees were story collections, with THE COMPLETE STORIES OF FLANNERY O’CONNOR taking the prize.
Here is the New York Magazine list:
1. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, by Lydia Davis (FSG)
2. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, by Eric W. Sanderson (Abrams)
3. The Book of Night Women, Marlon James (Riverhead)
4. Lowboy, John Wray (FSG)
5. Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist, by Thomas Levenson (Houghton Mifflin)
6. This Is How, by M.J. Hyland (Black Cat)
7. Imperial, by William T. Vollmann (Viking)
8. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower (FSG)
9. The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons (Ballantine / ESPN)
10. There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (Penguin)
In still more selections, the San Francisco Chronicle named their 100 Best Books of the year (plus five poetry collections and 50 Bay Area titles) and about 30 reviewers published in the Seattle Times each pick a favorite book of the year.
For a completely different type of list, the Guardian talks to UK publishers including Dan Franklin, Juliet Anna, Simon Prosser, Suzanne Baboneau, Roland Philipps, Jamie Byng, Philip Gwyn Jones, and Alexandra Pringle about books they published in 2009 that “deserved better” in the marketplace, and books they wish they had published.