The editors of The Times Book Review choosethe best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.




By Lisa Halliday



In “Asymmetry,” two seemingly unrelatedsections are connected by a shocking coda. The first, “Folly,” is the story ofa love affair. It narrates the relationship between Alice, a book editor andaspiring writer in her mid-20s, and Ezra Blazer, a brilliant, geriatricnovelist who is partly modeled on Philip Roth. The second section — “Madness” —belongs to Amar Jaafari, an Iraqi-American economist who is being detained atHeathrow. Halliday’s prose is clean and lean, almost reportorial in the styleof W.G. Sebald. This is a first novel that reads like the work of an author whohas published many books over many years, and it manages to be, all at once, atransgressive roman à clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work ofmetafiction.

在《不对称》中,两个看似不相关的部分通过一个令人震惊的结尾产生了关联。第一个部分《愚蠢》是一个爱情故事。讲述了二十五六岁的图书编辑、有志于成为作家的艾丽斯,与杰出的老作家埃兹拉·布莱泽(带有一部分菲利普·罗斯[PhilipRoth]的影子)之间的情事。第二个部分《疯狂》的主人公是滞留在希思罗机场的伊拉克裔美国经济学家阿马尔·贾法里。哈利迪的文笔干净、利落,近似泽巴尔德(W.G. Sebald)的纪实风格。这是作者的处女作,读起来却像是一个出版过多部作品的文坛老手所写,它既是一本逾界的影射小说,一部创意之作,也是一部带有政治立场的后设小说。

The Great Believers


By Rebecca Makkai



Set in the Chicago of the mid-80s and Parisat the time of the 2015 terrorist attacks, Makkai’s deeply affecting novel usesthe AIDS epidemic and a mother’s search for her estranged daughter to explorethe effects of senseless loss and our efforts to overcome it. Her portrait of agroup of friends, most of them gay men, conveys the terrors and tragedies ofthe epidemic’s early years and follows its repercussions over decades.Empathetic without being sentimental, her novel amply earned its place amongthe contenders for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award.

马凯这部小说感人至深,背景设定在上世纪80年代中期的芝加哥和2015年发生恐怖袭击时的巴黎,它借由艾滋病流行和一位母亲寻找关系疏远的女儿,来探寻无谓失去亲人所带来的影响,以及我们为克服这种影响所付诸的努力。她对一群朋友的刻画——其中大多数是男同性恋者,呈现出这一病症开始流行肆虐之初所造成的恐怖与悲剧,以及之后数十年的持续影响。她的小说充满同情却不滥情,在布克奖(Booker Prize)和全国图书奖(National Book Award)的角逐中,都占据了一席之地。

The Perfect Nanny


By Leila Slimani



We know from the outset of this unnervingcautionary tale (winner of the Goncourt Prize) that a beloved nanny hasmurdered the two children in her care; but what’s even more remarkable aboutthis unconventional domestic thriller is the author’s intimate analysis of thespecial relationship between a mother and the person she hires to care for heroffspring. Slimani writes devastating character studies, and she also raisespainful themes: the forbidden desires parents project onto their nannies,racial and class tensions. In this mesmerizingly twisted novel, only one thingis clear: Loneliness can drive you crazy.

从这个令人不安的警世故事(龚古尔奖[Goncourt Prize]得主)一开始,我们就知道一个招人喜欢的保姆,将她照顾的两个孩子杀死;但这个不落窠臼的家庭惊悚小说更令人瞩目的地方,是作者对一位母亲和她请来照顾子女的保姆之间特殊关系的亲密分析。斯利马尼写出了一些极精彩的性格研究,还提出了一些令人痛苦的主题:父母投射到保姆身上的禁忌欲望、种族和阶层的紧张关系。在这部乖张迷人的作品里,只有一件事是明确的:孤独会让你失去理智。

There There


By Tommy Orange



Orange’s debut is an ambitious meditationon identity and its broken alternatives, on myth filtered through the lens oftime and poverty and urban life. Its many short chapters are told through aloosely connected group of Native Americans living in Oakland, Calif., as theytravel to a powwow. They are all, as in Chaucer, pilgrims on their way to ashrine, or, as in Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” an extended family crossing thelandscape. The novel is their picaresque journey, allowing for moments of puresoaring beauty to hit against the most mundane, for a sense of timelessness tobe placed right beside a cleareyed version of the here and now.

奥兰治的处女作是对身份认同及其破碎的替代品,以及透过时间、贫困和都市生活的镜头过滤下的迷思所做的宏大思考。书中许多短小章节,是通过一群生活在加利福尼亚州奥克兰市、彼此疏于走动的印第安原住民在前往帕瓦仪式的路上讲述的。如同乔叟(Chaucer)作品中的人物,他们也是前往圣地的朝圣者;或者又如同福克纳的《我弥留之际》(As I Lay Dying),他们也是穿越这片土地的大家庭。这部小说记录了他们的冒险之旅,令纯粹翱翔之美的瞬间与最尘世的平凡相碰撞,令永恒的感觉与当下之现实毗邻而居。

Washington Black


By Esi Edugyan



This transcendent work of empathy andimagination, the 2018 winner of Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize, opens on asugar plantation in British Barbados in the waning days of slavery and, againstthat backdrop of unconscionable brutality, quickly tips us into a new world ofpossibility: one in which men take to the skies in hot-air balloons, dive tomysterious ocean depths and cross the Arctic on foot. Most daringly, it is aworld in which a white slave master’s brother and a young black slave can forgean indelible bond. With subtlety and eloquence, Edugyan unfolds a wondrous taleof exploration and discovery.

这部关于同理心与想像力的卓绝之作——作者是加拿大享有盛誉的吉勒文学奖(Giller Prize)的2018年得主——以奴隶制日渐衰落的时代开篇,地点位于英国殖民地巴巴多斯的一个糖料种植园,并且在恣意妄为的暴行背景下,它迅速让我们进入了一个新的可能性世界:在这个世界里,人们乘坐热气球飞向天空,潜入神秘的海洋深处,徒步穿越北极。最大胆的是,这是一个白人奴隶主的兄弟和年轻的黑奴可以建立起坚固友情的世界。伊杜吉安以细腻的笔触和雄辩的辞采,讲述了一个关于探索和发现的奇妙故事。

American Prison


By Shane Bauer

沙恩·鲍尔(Shane Bauer)/著

沙恩·鲍尔(Shane Bauer)/著

Bauer moved to rural Louisiana in 2014 towork undercover as a guard at the Winn Correctional Center, a privately runprison. He lasted four months before his deception was discovered, but thatturned out to be more than sufficient to write a searing exposé for MotherJones, which earned him a National Magazine Award and an invitation to speak toofficials in Washington about problems in for-profit prisons. With this book,Bauer has expanded his article into a comprehensive analysis impossible to ignore.His book is a meticulous catalog of horrors, from the historical precursors —the practice of convict-leasing at Southern prisons after the Civil War, inwhich inmates were rented out to companies as a captive work force — to therampant violence, neglect and incompetence that pervade a multibillion-dollarindustry.

鲍尔于2014年搬到路易斯安那州乡村,在私人监狱韦恩惩教中心卧底,担任狱警。他的伪装持续了四个月后被发现,但得到的素材足够为Mother Jones写一篇尖锐的黑幕揭露报道了,这篇文章为他赢得了全国杂志奖(NationalMagazine Award),并受华盛顿官员之邀讲述营利性监狱所存在的问题。借这本书,鲍尔对那篇文章进行了扩充,把它变成了一份让你无法忽视的综合分析。他的书是恐怖行为的详细目录,从那些历史先例——内战结束后南方监狱里的囚犯租赁,也就是把囚犯作为失去自由的劳动力出租给企业——到一个规模达数十亿美元的产业里司空见惯的猖獗暴力、渎职与无能。



By Tara Westover



Westover’s extraordinary memoir is an actof courage and self-invention. The youngest of seven children, she grew up inIdaho, in a survivalist family who lived so far off the grid that she lackedeven a birth certificate and did not attend school until she went to college.Getting in wasn’t obvious: At home, reading meant studying the Bible and theBook of Mormon, and much of her childhood was spent helping her mother, anunlicensed midwife, and her father, a paranoid man who maintained a scrap-metaljunkyard. In recounting her upbringing and her triumph over it — she would earna Ph.D. in history at Cambridge — Westover took great risks and alienated familymembers. The reward is a book that testifies to an irrepressible thirst tolearn.


Frederick Douglass


By David W. Blight

戴维·布莱特(David W.Blight)/著

戴维·布莱特(David W.Blight)/著

A monumental work about a monumentalfigure. The charismatic Douglass was Abraham Lincoln’s conscience, so to speak,and Blight’s detailed, cinematic biography is the result of a lifetime ofengagement with his subject. Douglass wrote three autobiographies himself,describing his rise from slavery to a role as one of the greatest figures ofthe 19th century, but Blight’s work is fuller than any of those, relating boththe public and private life in a way that Douglass either could not or wouldnot undertake. The result is a portrait that is likely to stand as thedefinitive account for years to come.


How to Change Your Mind


By Michael Pollan



Best known for his work on the ethics ofeating, Pollan delivers his most personal book yet, one that demanded he dropacid in full view of the reader. Exploring the history and science ofpsychedelics, he tells of the rise and fall and rise again of our societalinterest in these drugs, which are now thought to have many benefits, fromhelping with addiction to easing the terror of the terminally ill. The bookhits its high point when he examines the mysticism and spirituality of thepsychedelic experience. What can we learn about ourselves when the part of ourmind controlling the ego drops away? What is this older, more primitive part ofthe brain, which connects us to how a child sees the world? It’s a trip thatleads him to wonder about how, ultimately, we can get the most out of ourexistences as conscious beings in the world.


Small Fry


By Lisa Brennan-Jobs

丽莎·布伦南-乔布斯(Lisa Brennan-Jobs)

丽莎·布伦南-乔布斯(Lisa Brennan-Jobs)

Brennan-Jobs grew up shuttling between twostarkly different worlds: the bohemian, peripatetic world of her mother, anunstable and impoverished artist, and the luxurious world of her cruel andincreasingly wealthy father, Steve Jobs. She provides indelible portraits ofboth parents, recreating the fraught landscape of her childhood in Palo Altothrough the careful accretion of exquisitely granular detail. Her memoir is awork of uncanny intimacy, the debut of a singular literary sensibility.Ultimately, though, it is her portrayal of Jobs as a man prone to mind-bogglingacts of emotional negligence and abuse that gives this book its overlay ofdevastation.