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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.’

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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.’

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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.

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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’

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Best Book of 1955: The Magician’s Nephew

Josie Mitchell

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

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Best Book of 1868: Dostoevsky’s The Idiot

Laurie Sheck

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

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Best Book of 1971: Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Kevin Breathnach

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

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Best Book of 1926: Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel

Sun Yisheng

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

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Best Book of 2010: Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt

Emma Jane Unsworth

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

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

Mira Rashty

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

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

Dave Haysom

Dave Haysom on why Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling is the best book of 1766.

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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.’

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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.’

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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)’