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Explore Essays and memoir

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 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 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 1955: The Magician’s Nephew

Josie Mitchell

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

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 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 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 1970: Moominvalley in November

Aleksi Pöyry

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

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 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 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 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’

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.’