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December 11, 2013

Favorite Novels of 2013

2013 was yet another banner year for fiction. These are the 11 novels I have most recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who has crossed my path this year.

All links go to the authors' contributions to the Book Notes series, where applicable. I have reposted my original review below each book.

What was your favorite novel of 2013?

The Boy

The Boy by Lara Santoro

Lara Santoro's novel The Boy is a hard-hitting and compelling story of conflicted motherhood.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Few writers earn multiple comparisons to Leo Tolstoy and Jonathan Safran Foer, but Anthony Marra has with his remarkable novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Marra deftly explores lives touched by the Chechnyan conflict in one of the year's most impressive debuts.

The Corpse Washer

The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon

Sinan Antoon's second novel The Corpse Washer is as strong an exploration of the effect of war on individuals, families, and communities as I have ever read, yet is a book that glimmers with compassion and hope.


Duplex by Kathryn Davis

Kathryn Davis's inventive Duplex dazzles with its language and fantastic premise, this is one of the year's most memorable and finely wrought novels.

Rachel Kushner

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

One of the most highly acclaimed books of the year deserves every bit of praise.


Hild by Nicola Griffith

Nicola Griffith's Hild is a smart and sweeping historical novel, one that imaginatively tells the story of Saint Hilda of seventh century Britain.

Mira Corpora

Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson

Jeff Jackson's Mira Corpora is a masterfully written debut, an often brutal coming of age tale as unsettling as it is brilliant.

On Sal Mal Lane

On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman

Ru Freeman's On Sal Mal Lane vividly covers the years leading up to the civil war in Sri Lanka through the inhabitants of one diverse neighborhood, and deftly blends beauty with sorrow to produce an unforgettable book.


Umbrella by Will Self

Will Self's ninth novel Umbrella is brilliant, complex, and daringly told, a stream-of-consciousness masterpiece.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

Kristopher Jansma's The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is a magnificent debut novel, an innovatively told exploration of identity, truth, and the writer's life the Village Voice described as "F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson."

Woke Up Lonely

Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel

Fiona Maazel's Woke Up Lonely is a vibrant, engaging, and endlessly inventive exploration of loneliness, and is easily one of the year's finest novels.

also at Largehearted Boy:

online "best of 2013" book lists

Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2012
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2011
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2010
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2009
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2008
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2007

Largehearted Boy favorite nonfiction books of 2013
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2013
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2013

previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks book reviews