2016 Favourites by Publishers and Reviewers

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Jane Doe

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What books did publishers regret not getting their hands on? Which impressed the reviewers?
Emma Green of The Atlantic:

"The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is a book for a what if time. It’s set in a world in which the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel turned out differently: Instead of settling in the Middle East, Jewish refugees moved en masse to Alaska. Inevitably, the Jews are asked to leave—and their worst fears are realized. But these bad times are also morally ambiguous: The good guys are never fully good guys, the bad guys never fully bad. Ultimately, the Jews of Sitka, Alaska, learn that they are helpless in the face of what if coming true, that there will always be more bad times. The goal isn’t to remake the world, Chabon seems to argue, but, rather, to survive it. And his greatest insight is that it’s possible to find humor in catastrophe—speaking Yiddish, along with a sip of slivovitz, makes the end of the world much easier to take."
MK of Esquire:

"Sweetbitter is the most delicious (sorry!) summer read. A former server at Union Square Cafe and Buvette, debut novelist Stephanie Danler writes sumptuously about her heroine's education in food and wine as she trains and works at a tony New York restaurant. But you don't need to be a foodie to love Sweetbitter because it's also a heartfelt novel about being a newcomer in a new city, about the dangers of being young and lonely and drunk and in love in New York. It's a grasping glimpse what happens behind the scenes where the rich people dine, but it's more sensual and poignant than you might expect."
Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic:

"Roadside Picnic is a book about aliens in which no aliens appear. Rather, one character hypothesizes, aliens seemed to have zipped carelessly around Earth and strewed it with trash—like roadside picnickers leaving behind wrappers and empty bottles. The scientists, smugglers, and other profiteers so drawn to these alien objects are but ants crawling through the picnic crumbs. Is this a book that makes you contemplate the smallness of humans? Absolutely. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly breezy title. Roadside Picnic was first written in Russian in 1972, and it is the very loose inspiration for the movie Stalker."
Alexandra Pringle, Bloomsbury:

"The paperback edition of Hannah Rothschild’s divinely clever and witty debut novel The Improbability of Love, which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize and was shortlisted for the Baileys."
Juliet Annan of Fig Tree and Penguin:

"Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project (Contraband) is a gripping novel that you think is true crime, and stirs you on the injustices of the Highland enclosures and their effect on crofters in the 19th century. But then the novel flips on its head right at the end, so that you are caught short by your own liberal smuggery. And after the grimness of this year, no one wants that …"
Juliet Mabey of Oneworld:

"Shadow State by Alan White is a biting critique of the £80bn our government spends on outsourcing some of our most important public services, from prisons to hospital resources and even child protection. Remember the scandal of G4S’s bungled Olympic security contract? It really is a must-read book, and hopefully, with next year’s paperback publication, it will reach a much wider audience."
Juliet Mabey of Oneworld

"Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, a whip-smart satire on racism, was a surprise Man Booker winner in an industry where comedy and satire rarely take away the gongs. That it should do so amid the post-Brexit referendum, pre-Trump presidential turmoil was particularly gratifying, ensuring that its message – which has rarely been more vital – will reach a wider audience than would otherwise have been the case. It’s a real delight that a writer of 20 years’ standing – and one as thoughtful as Paul – should finally break out in the UK."
Christopher Hamilton-Emery of Salt:

"[K.J. Orr] is a writer of piercing, crystalline prose; her short stories unveil compulsions, discords, collisions and tiny, intensely memorable brutalities. The collection is, to use a rather worn phrase, stunning."
Michael Shavit of Jonathan Cape:

"This short semi-autobiographical novella, cleverly republished by Daunt, is an intense love story between a young aspiring writer and a beautiful but troubled young woman in 1960s New York. When Sylvia’s depression emerges and her disturbances take hold, their fights become increasingly violent and their relationship becomes increasingly self-destructive. This is a book about love and pain that, like Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment, stays with you a long time after you finish it."
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