2022 Staff Picks: Literary Fiction
Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.
True Biz2022 by Nović, SaraGet this item
An insightful, memorable, and moving coming-of-age story that discusses the discrimination against and within the Deaf community from multiple perspectives. We love how Deaf culture is integrated within the story as well as the inclusion of sign languages so the reader can immerse in the culture. Suggested by Monica and Rummanah.
Fruiting Bodies: Stories2022 by Harlan, KathrynGet this item
For my fellow woodsy witchy weirdos, I loved this story collection because of the way it combines the natural sciences with some haunting and creepy sci-fi elements, all while centering women and queer characters. Suggested by Jane.
Joan Is Okay2022 by Wang, WeikeGet this item
Joan's work as a doctor is her life, and that has always been good for her--until upheavals change the tenor of her life in New York City. There's something cathartic about accompanying a character through changes, one of which is the COVID-19 pandemic. Suggested by Amy K.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow2022 by Zevin, GabrielleGet this item
This is a book I can't stop thinking about. While on the surface this is a novel about video games, you don't have to have any relationship to gaming to appreciate it. It is a book about relationships and connection with beautiful prose. I can't recommend it enough. Suggested by Becca.
The Swimmers2022 by Otsuka, JulieGet this item
I loved the complexity of this short but impactful novel. It starts off distant and whimsical until it slowly narrows into its true themes, with a painfully beautiful exploration of humanity and connection. Suggested by Elise.
Cold Enough for Snow2022 by Au, JessicaGet this item
I loved Jessica Au's prose and pace in this small but mighty book. There's a dreamlike quality that I could clearly feel as the characters walked through the streets, cafes, and museums of Tokyo. Suggested by Paul.
This Time Tomorrow2022 by Straub, EmmaGet this item
I loved how the author used time-jumping in the best possible way—to think about choices and who we are and what's important. Suggested by Van.
Nightcrawling2022 by Mottley, LeilaGet this item
I love Mottley’s lyrical writing; it is raw and beautiful. I really like Kiara’s determination to succeed, even when her world is crumbling. Suggested by Michelle.
The Immortal King Rao2022 by Vara, VauhiniGet this item
The "Great Man" theory of history gets an autopsy in this past-present-future story that at different points reminded me of Vikram Chandra, Dave Eggers, Neal Stephenson, Emily St. John Mandel, and Shakespeare's The Tempest. Maybe I should just admit it's not quite like anything else. Suggested by Andrew.
The School for Good Mothers2022 by Chan, JessamineGet this item
I read this book at the beginning of the year and it has relentlessly stuck with me since then. I can't tell you how many times I had to take a break out of the sheer frustration I felt during this Orwellian and unsettling read. While it alludes to the impossible societal standards forced on mothers, I think it hits on the greater pressures of womxnhood and makes for a satisfying dystopian read. Suggested by Leslie.
Dinosaurs2022 by Millet, LydiaGet this item
I first discovered Lydia Millet through her short stories collections and her allegorical dystopian adventure tale The Children’s Bible. Dinosaurs is vastly different from those two works; it is a graceful, quiet, and powerful look at one ordinary person’s impact on the world around them. Suggested by Lynnanne.
Trust2022 by Díaz, HernánGet this item
This is a novel broken into four distinct sections, all of which flow and fold into each other in ways that make you question everything that’s come before. If you were to ask me if there’s a theme, I’d say it’s about money, people (three in particular), family, love, and the power of narrative. Suggested by Chris.
Our Missing Hearts2022 by Ng, CelesteGet this item
This one-step-away-from-our-reality, dystopian story broke my heart and took my breath away at the same time. It's about a mother's love, the power of books, and the fight for what matters most. Suggested by Megan.
Olga Dies Dreaming2022 by Gonzalez, XochitlGet this item
I really liked Olga’s desire to be successful while still allowing herself to be vulnerable. Gonzalez showcases the irony and tediousness of wedding planning as Olga is an A-list wedding planner. I love the way she weaves in gentrification, familial bonds, Puerto Rican culture, and family secrets. Suggested by Michelle.
Haven2022 by Donoghue, EmmaGet this item
A story about Irish monks in the 7th century becomes a fable about the not-always-obvious-in-the-moment distinctions between faith and fanaticism, determination and folly. And running through it like a backbeat, a powerful warning against any spirituality that denies humanity's connection to the natural world. Suggested by Andrew.
Remarkably Bright Creatures2022 by Van Pelt, ShelbyGet this item
This book is just so lovely. Bonus points for one of the narrators being an octopus. It adds an interesting layer to the story. Suggested by Becca.
Night of the Living Rez2022 by Talty, MorganGet this item
I was absolutely captivated by these twelve interconnected short stories that follow the challenges that a young Native American in contemporary America faces, such as drug addiction, mental illness, and economic insecurity. The stories range from humorous and tender to grim and heartbreaking. Suggested by Rummanah.
Cult Classic2022 by Crosley, SloaneGet this item
Perceptive, archly witty, and romantic in its own way, the book is based on Crosley's own dating experiences. I am not sure I can say I loved it as much as I can say I lived it (outside the science fiction elements), as the main character's relationship missteps and failures echoed my own. Suggested by Lynnanne.
Unlikely Animals2022 by Hartnett, AnnieGet this item
A tragicomic novel that is deeply human while also very much being about animals and a Greek chorus of ghosts. Healing, grief, laughs, and tears. This novel has it all. For the fans of Kevin Wilson and Jess Kidd. We loved it! Suggested by Becca and Megan.
Natural History: Stories2022 by Barrett, AndreaGet this item
People who aren't familiar with Barrett's fiction may find this new collection a bit hard to follow, but her fans (like me) will love it. Henrietta Atkins, Barrett's greatest creation, appears in most of the stories, which once more center on characters (usually female) making space for themselves in amateur or professional science. Suggested by Andrew.
Last Summer on State Street2022 by Wolfe, ToyaGet this item
A compelling and heart-wrenching slice-of-life novel set in the Robert Taylor Homes of Chicago takes a close look at community, lives, and resilience during one life-changing summer in 1999. This is a gut punch of a novel that I would highly recommend to fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Britt Bennett. Suggested by Rummanah.
Marrying the Ketchups2022 by Close, JenniferGet this item
I love a dysfunctional family story. I love a local story. This one is both. Perfect for fans of J. Ryan Stradal. Suggested by Becca.
Shit Cassandra Saw: Stories2022 by Kirby, Gwen E.Get this item
A short story collection full of feminist speculative stories, and I loved every one. Behind the interesting and sometimes fantastical settings of the stories, there is a connecting thread of the way society has punished women who dare to speak up or be different and how dangerous it can be to be a woman. The writing is funny, playful, and brash. Suggested by Lynnanne.
Fiona and Jane2021 by Ho, Jean ChenGet this item
I don't think I have read a book before that accurately captures the messiness and complexities of female friendship. Told in linked stories, Fiona and Jane explores Asian American immigrant experiences in Los Angeles and New York, and the hardships of life. Suggested by Rummanah.
The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family2021 by Cohen, JoshuaGet this item
Joshua Cohen is a preternaturally gifted writer--his prose is the kind that stops you dead in your tracks and calls you back to reread a sentence, a paragraph, an entire page and marvel. It is a great story and funny. I can't remember the last time I laughed aloud as much as while reading this book. Suggested by Chris.
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