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Top 5 Books 2019

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay uses the legacy of the 1992 LA riots to explore themes of tribalism, revenge and intergenerational trauma
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett uses an almost fairy tale air to tell an intimate but thematically rich story of siblings in The Dutch House
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Lara Prescott’s debut The Secrets We Kept uses a number of female voices to tell the story of the writing and publication of Doctor Zhivago and its role in the Cold War
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
Kevin Barry’s Night Boat to Tangier is a poetic and Beckett-esque tale of two Irish crims waiting at a ferry terminal in Spain.
A Lovely and Terrible Thing by Chris Womersley
Chris Womersley’s collection A Lovely and Terrible Thing has plenty of stories with a nostalgic, suburban feel with horror stylings that often “feel like a cross between Raymond Carver and Stephen King”

Honourable Mentions

Bodies of Men by Nigel Featherstone
Nigel Featherstone’s Bodies of Men takes the Australian engagement in Egypt in WWII as the backdrop to a soldiers’ romance that transcends the usual fictional tropes
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
The Nickle Boys, Colson Whitehead’s follow up to The Underground Railroad, is a more grounded but no less affecting look at a reformatory school in Florida in the 1960s
Fortune by Lenny Bartulin
Lenny Bartulin opens his “vibrant and entertaining” Fortune with Napoleon’s march into Berlin, an event that impacts on a range of disparate characters who he follows through across the nineteenth century
The Vogue by Eoin McNamee
Eoin McNamees The Vogue is a dark tale of revenge and retribution that plays out over three time frames in a small Irish village that was an airbase during World War 2


  • Deborah 24/01/2020 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve only just remembered to come back and read this properly as it depressed me that I’ve read NONE on your list! Sadly my tastes are a bit prosaic.

    I HAVE heard of the Colson Whitehead and Ann Patchett books (at least…) but must admit I’m quite intrigued by A Lovely and Terrible Thing!!!

    • robertgoodman 26/01/2020 at 1:04 pm

      There are plenty of books of other’s best of lists that were supposed to be good that I never got to. Let’s face it – there are just too many books. While the short stories are great (and very different), I can recommend pretty much anything by Chris Womersley.