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The holiday season is approaching, which means people are eager to get their fingers on a list of books that they can devour during their annual vacation. And as we talked about in this recent piece on BookTok, there are plenty of titles to be excited about right now.
For that reason, we thought we’d put together a list of the best books to get on the literary scene in 2021 (or at least to get a positive wrapping in 2021), and take a look at why they are worth spending time on. .
Here’s what we’ve landed on.
The best books of 2021
All synopses from publishers.
Amnesia Road: Landscape, violence and memory, by Luke Stegemann
Winner of the Mark and Evette Moran Literary Award.
Winner of the 2021 Queensland Literary Award for Non-Fiction.
Amnesia Road is a compelling literary study of historical violence in rural Australia and Spain. It is also a rude celebration of the beautiful landscapes where this violence has been carried out. Traveling and writing across two locations – the rarely visited Mulga plains in southwestern Queensland and the back roads of Andalusia’s rural areas – revealing award-winning Australian Hispanic Luke Stegemann’s neglected history and its many neglected victims, asking where such forgotten people are. contemporary debates about history, nationality, guilt and identity.
Basrocken, by Evie Wyld
The lives of three women weave together through four centuries in the dazzling book by Evie Wyld, winner of the Miles Franklin Prize and the Stella Prize.
The night watchman, by Louise Erdrich
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2021.
Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather, who worked as a night watchman and led the fight against indigenous displacement from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, DC, this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with ease. and gravity and unfolds with a master craftsman’s elegant prose, warm humor (sic) and depth of emotion.
Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, by Marcia Chatelain
Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for History.
From Civil Rights to Ferguson, the Franchise reveals the untold story of how fast food became one of the biggest generators of black wealth in America.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, by the late Les Payne and Tamara Payne
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2021 for biography.
Les Payne, the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, embarked on a nearly thirty-year journey in 1990 to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X – all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates , Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and officers and political leaders around the world. His goal was ambitious: to transform what would become over a hundred hours of interviews into an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, a portrait that separates facts from fiction.
The result is this historical biography that conjures up an unprecedented world of its protagonist, a work whose title is inspired by a phrase that Malcolm X used when he saw his Hartford followers move purposefully, as if they were dead. really arose, to overcome the obstacles of racism. The book puts Malcolm’s life not only within the Nation of Islam, but against the broader background of American history, and traces the life of one of the twentieth century’s most politically relevant figures “from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary.”
Postcolonial love poem by Natalie Diaz
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2021.
Natalie Diaz’s highly anticipated follow-up to When My Brother Was an Aztec, winner of an American Book Award.
Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, by David Zucchino
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2021 for general literature.
From Pulitzer Prize winner David Zucchino comes a burning account of the Wilmington riots and coup in 1898, an extraordinary event unknown to most Americans.
Beautiful world, where are you, by Sally Rooney
A selection from the New York Times (NYT) for the best books of 2021.
The new novel by the author of Normal People.
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works at a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he wants to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is about to come across a breakup and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.
Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young, but life is catching up with them. They lust after each other, they deceive each other, they meet, they separate. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Do they stand in the last lighted room before dark and testify of something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?
After parties: Stories, by Anthony Veasna So
Another NEW favorite.
A living collection of stories about Cambodian-American life – immersive and comical, yet gentle – that provides in-depth insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities
Apple seeds by Matt Bell
Appleseed was also named out of NYT on its list of best books for 2021.
A work of ardent imagination (Karen Russell) by Young Lions Fiction Award finalist Matt Bell, a breakout book that explores climate change, obvious fate, humanity’s uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, and the small but powerful magic contained in each apple.
Confusion, by Richard Powers
Another NEW top choice.
Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widow of a highly unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving and full of plans. He thinks and feels deeply, loves animals and can spend hours painting artful pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade, for having smashed his friend’s face with a metal thermos.
What can a father do when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him and wants an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets while constantly promoting his son’s desperate campaign to help save him.
transition baby, by Torrey Peters
Another NEW best book from the 2021 selection on the way.
Reese had almost everything: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she did not hate. She had scraped together a life that previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then everything fell apart, and three years later, Reese is still in a state of self-destruction, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
Someone’s country, by Adam Goodes, Ellie Laing and David Hardy
Of course, this is a children’s book. But one that is of great importance to Aussies of all ages.
Someone’s land is an invitation to connect with First Nations culture, to acknowledge the wounds of the past and to unite as one community with a valuable common history as old as time.
Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing’s powerful words and David Hardy’s images, full of life, invite children and their families to imagine Australia’s past – to feel the richness of our First Nations history, to recognize that our country has never been terra nullius, and to understand what ‘welcome to our country’ really means.
Wild abandonment, by Emily Bitto
In the fall of 2011, a broken young man flees Australia to the United States. As he lands in New York’s exaggerated, eerily familiar glamor and abundance, Will makes a promise to say yes to anything that comes his way. By fate or chance, Will’s journey takes him deep into the American heartland, where he meets Wayne Gage, a fast-paced, troubled Vietnam veteran, upcoming spiritual guide and collector of exotic animals. These two men in crisis form an unlikely friendship, but Will has no idea how close to the edge Wayne really is.
How we love: Notes on a life, by Clementine Ford
A deeply personal exploration of love in all its forms from a feminist icon and bestselling author of Fight like a girl and Boys want to be boys.
It’s worth noting that if you’re worried about ordering one of these books before the end of the year – with all the postage delays – you can find digital versions of most titles on Kindle or Apple Books.
Oh, and if you want to continue with the book talk – then you should check out ABC’s new series with Claudia Karvan with the title Books that have created us. It is available to watch on iview and ABC TV now.