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Best Book of 1982: Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Eleanor Chandler

‘While the terrible pain of speech is made clear, this book ultimately reminds us that we must not be silenced.’

Best Book of 1950: A Natural History of Trees by Donald Culross Peattie

James Pogue

‘Now more than ever environmentalists need to remember what it’s like to write for that real world.’

Best Book of 2016: Joanne Kyger’s On Time

Hoa Nguyen

Hoa Nguyen on why Joanne Kyger’s On Time is the best book of 2016.

Best Book of 2015: Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo

Valerie Miles

‘Time is a rubber band, and in a single sentence, ghosts and alternative worlds superimpose’

Best Book of 1955: The Magician’s Nephew

Josie Mitchell

‘Much like Tolkien’s, admittedly vaster, legendarium, Lewis’s world is exquisitely conceived.’

Best Book of 1868: Dostoevsky’s The Idiot

Laurie Sheck

‘The beauty of The Idiot lies in its opposition to closed systems.’

Best Book of 1971: Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Kevin Breathnach

‘The novel submits to an internalized discipline: it is an observation machine’

Best Book of 1926: Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel

Sun Yisheng

His is a force more penetrative than all the bogus machismo of Hemingway.

Best Book of 2010: Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt

Emma Jane Unsworth

‘Hunt writes with brio, the visceral often blooming into the mystical.’

When the World Became White by Dalia Betolin-Sherman | Best Book of 2013

Mira Rashty

‘New poetic expressions can still emerge and evolve in Hebrew – an ancient and almost prehistoric language, with its grumbling sound’

Best Book of 1766: Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling

Dave Haysom

‘His room filled with the roaring of the wind, and he heard the sound of...

Best Book of 1900: The Autobiography of Dr William Henry Johnson

Jennifer Kabat

‘Johnson is now a ghost of history; he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but I can’t let him disappear.’

Best Book of 2008: To the End of the Land, by David Grossman

Lily Dunn

‘David Grossman is a writer who speaks to the heart, and this is his masterpiece.’

Sweet William: A Memoir of Old Horse, by John Hawkes | Best Book of 1993

Linda H. Davis

‘Plunged inside the skin of the horse, I felt his sensory burdens, sufferings and fears: his keen sensitivity to sound, smell and touch (even the weight of a saddle)’

Best Book of 2000: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

Anne Meadows

‘It is the novel I have read which best expresses the honest and sad truth of art: that it is often produced in precarity and performed in near silence, but that it can also redeem a life.’

Best Book of 2008: Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen

Mika Taylor

‘Rivka Galchen’s debut novel is one of my favourites from the last few years.’

Best Book of 1943: ­Love In A Fallen City­ by Eileen Chang

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

‘Eileen Chang writes perfectly for the romantic in an unromantic and unrelenting world.’

Best Book of 1967: Ice by Anna Kavan

Eli Goldstone

‘What a writer, and what a vision. What a perfect book to read in preparation for the end of the world.’

Best Book of 1941: Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher

Harriet Moore

‘This book is about yearning for the Sunday nights of childhood, or dreams; it is a meditation on hunger in all its forms.’

Best Book of 1994: The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller

Eliza Robertson

‘You'd have to have lived through that bleakness. You'd have to know with your body, your hands, your eyes, your mouth, the weight of that fear – how it’s not strictly describable.’

Best book of 1983: The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek

Sophie Mackintosh

‘After 2016 I’m done with sentimentality, and it’s hard to think of a less sentimental book than The Piano Teacher, objectively a masterpiece, subjectively a book that changed my life.’

Best book of 1964: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr

Lisa McInerney

‘In days of such human cruelty and pettiness and stupidity, we need reminding that we are all capable of savage compassion as well as the contagion of hatred.’

Best book of 1947: L’Écume des Jours by Boris Vian

Xiaolu Guo

‘In those spring nights, I sat by barbecue stalls in the streets of Beijing, reading this novel under dim streetlights while eating lamb skewers.’

Best Book of 1965: Everything That Rises Must Converge

April Ayers Lawson

‘O’Conner has for me the effect of nailing and then blowing up one’s most casual illusions’

Best Book of 1970: Moominvalley in November

Aleksi Pöyry

‘This is a book I always return to for its melancholy tone, warm humour and psychological insight.’

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby: Best Book of 1995

Ted Robinson

‘It was a story about music and relationships.’

Words and the Word

Miranda France

Miranda France on how C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot redrafted the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

The Best Books of Any Year: Three Variations on Post-Truth

Astrid Alben

‘2016 is almost over but the impact of this year’s political events will reverberate around the globe for decades.’

Best Book of 1991: Mao II by Don DeLillo

Colin Barrett

‘The ultimate goal of each act of art, each work of terror, is to demolish the old, incumbent reality, and create a new one.’

Best Book of 1993: Written on the Body

Melissa Febos

‘Influences imprint themselves on our consciousness as light does a photograph, or trauma the psyche’

The Binoculars of Jah

Colin Grant

‘No matter how I attempted to interpret the email, it could only be read in one way: I was out of the Bunny Wailer club. Jah Bunny had put a curse on me.’

The Cult of the Hindu Cowboy

Snigdha Poonam

‘The Hindu cowboy accords to the cow the holiest status in his imagination: of mother. It is his duty to protect her honour; it is his privilege to kill for her.’

First Sentence: Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora

‘Immigration has become a physical thing, like a tumor inside us, between us.’

When Denmark Criminalised Kindness

Lisbeth Zornig Andersen

‘We now know that it is a criminal offence to help refugees in distress.’