Books of the year 2013

16 December 2013

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Seventeen Picador books, from literary thrillers to poetry in translation, have been chosen by the press as books of the year! We are very chuffed with that (and obviously think the journalists have made excellent choices) and wanted to share some of the reviews with you. You never know, they might even help with your Christmas shopping – or get added to your wishlist!

Salter's sentences

'All That Is by James Salter is, no question, the best novel I read this year – by a lot. Yes, yes, of course . . . the sentences. But then . . . the sentences. As well as the large historical vision from the 1950s to now; New York and Paris deliciously evoked; wonderful louts of both the male and female varieties; some extremely bad behaviour going nicely unpunished. And continuous authorial decisions about just what happens next that’ll absolutely drop your jaw in admiration.’ Richard Ford, Financial Times, Book of the Year

Revolutionary history

The Ancient Paths is ‘an extraordinary book that uses digital mapping and modern software to revive the old thesis about ley lines and straight tracks in pre-Roman Gaul and Britain – Asterix as road engineer. The sources on the period are so limited that it is hard to know whether Robb's speculations about the druids are revolutionary or crackpot.’ Observer, History Books of the Year

The lives we live

The Book of My Lives is ‘A deft, playful, poignant and powerful look at the novelist’s life, in Yugoslavia and New York.’ Sunday Times, Best Books of 2013

Murder in Iceland

‘Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, a remarkably assured debut, takes a tale of crime and punishment in 1820s Iceland and through it opens a window, lit with harsh brilliance, on to an alien world.’ Boyd Tonkin, Independent, Books of the Year

A personal history of the Habsburg Empire

Danubia: ‘Funny and yet also fantastically informative.’ Observer, Books of the Year

Social satire

The Deaths: ‘a must for anyone who hates their own obsession with Waitrose, a satire on Middle England where “every home is almost a village of its own”’ Observer, Fiction Books of the Year

William Golding of our day

‘Jim Crace’s Harvest was masterly in its firm grip on what need only be intimated and what stated cleanly. It was easily the best-written novel of the year.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator, Books of the Year

The future of the book?

‘A gigantic experiment, bracing, thrilling and worthy of a medal for narrative heroism, Richard House’s four-volume The Kills plays an epic set of variations on the shadow war for loot and influence behind the chaos of Iraq.’ Boyd Tonkin, Independent, Books of the Year

Do you know who you're talking to online?

Kiss Me First: ‘An outstanding first novel about a young woman who, with the internet as her ally, steers another woman towards suicide.’ Observer, Books of the Year

Wanted: carer for literary giant

‘Kate Clanchy’s Meeting the English is a bracingly trenchant romantic revenge comedy which ends in an orgy of poetic justice, its theme the overthrow of tyrants, its hero a seventeen-year-old Scot and its setting Hampstead in the long hot summer of 19[89].’ Helen Simpson, TLS, Books of the Year

Picador titles on the best books lists

East Coast glamour

Tigers in Red Weather: ‘The island holiday home of a wealthy family in post-war America is the setting for a shimmering debut novel of passion and violence.’ Sunday Times, Best Books of 2013

Self-deception

Hallucinations: ‘Sacks’s trip through the world of hallucinations – and his own LCD experiences – explains some of the mesmerising ways our brains can deceive us.’ Sunday Times, Best Books of 2013

Great musicians on their music

‘Daniel Rachel’s interview technique for Isle Of Noises: Conversations With Great British Songwriters was straightforward: talk to songwriters not about fame, excess or the rock’n’roll lifestyle, but simply about the day-job. The insights he got were as fascinating as his subjects: Jarvis Cocker, Noel Gallagher, Laura Marling, Ray Davies, John Lydon, Johnny Marr, Paul Weller, among others’ NME, Best Books of 2013

The rituals of the world's artists (or some of them)

Daily Rituals: ‘a compendium of . . . beguiling monotonies, a chance to see what great lives look like when the triumphs, dramas, disruptions and divorces have been all but boiled away. It will fascinate anyone who wonders how a day might best be spent.’ Guardian, Annual Books Round-Up

Happiness in a book

Aimless Love: ‘The treat of treats. Unlike the wedding guest waylaid by Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, the reader emerges from encounters with Collins as a wiser and far happier person.’ Geoff Dyer, New Statesman, Books of the Year

The new gods

‘One of the other texts to breathe new life in to old classic forms this year was Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients; a long poem about us and the gods that’s all high-kicking verve and long-range understanding. I loved its vision, powerful and merciful.’ Ali Smith, Observer, Books of the Year

The old gods

‘For those who have never quite managed the reverence for Dante required of the well-read, there is at last a translation that makes The Divine Comedy everything it’s billed: Clive James’s version in quatrain. Suddenly the voice – from teasingly conversational to clangorously epic to tenderly lyric – is right beside you even when it’s a talking beast: “The Pope pops Satan, Satan pips the Pope,”/ Plutus barked raucous nonsense, while my Guide/ Who knew all things, to give me back my hope/ Said “don’t let fear of him turn you aside.” Read it out loud in bed (softly).’ Simon Schama, Financial Times, Book of the Year

Return to the metaphysical

The metaphysical turn in recent poetry in the UK is emphasized in Rachael Boast's second collection, Pilgrim’s Flower, which recognizes that there are certain states and perceptions that shape the weather of the spirit, which poetry seems uniquely qualified to render. . . . you'll see something of the diversity and ambition that marks our younger poets.’ Independent, Poetry Books of the Year 2013

O little book called Bethlehem

Bethlehem: ‘Carol Ann Duffy’s evocative new poem will transport you to Bethlehem, capturing the sights, the sounds and the atmosphere of this ancient and magical place.’ Guardian, Annual Books Round-Up