Top 2023 books

In no particular order…

Literary non–fiction

  1. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends – Nicole Perlroth (2021) – Thrilling if lengthy story of the global cyberweapons market and a new kind of global warfare. Essential reading. (2021 FT Business Book of the Year)
  2. Dead in the Water: Murder and Fraud in the World’s Most Secretive Industry – Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel (2022) – Gripping true story wrapped into a startling expose of the global maritime shipping industry. (Shortlisted for 2022 FT Business Book of the Year)

Fiction

  1. In Ascension – Martin MacInnes (2023) – A sublime and profound epic: from earth’s earliest ocean life to the incomprehensible void of the cosmos in the company of a mesmerising and troubled marine biologist. (Longlisted for 2023 Booker Prize)
  2. Venomous Lumpsucker – Ned Beauman (2022) – A hilarious, satirical eco-thriller following the money and morals down the drain in pursuit of the most intelligent fish on the planet. (2023 Arthur C. Clarke Award)

“Ned Beauman captures brilliantly the contradictory blend of urgency, paralysis, panic and resignation the climate emergency and its attendant mass extinctions inspire.” – Chris Power

  1. The Half Life of Valery K – Natasha Pulley (2022) – Pacey, fact-based and intensely human story of a grim nuclear accident in the surreal world of lies and secrets in the 1960s Soviet Union.
  2. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (2005) – Part sci-fi, part mystery, part horror, part coming-of-age, Ishiguro quietly finds new boundaries to break.
  3. The Vegetarian – Han Kang (2007, trans Deborah Smith 2015) – Harrowing tale of vegetarianism as trauma, subversion and family breakdown in hyper conformist Korea. (2016 Man Booker International Prize)
  4. Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata (2016, trans Ginny Tapley Takemori 2018) – Startling, moving and understated story of an unsung heroine working in Japanese retail. (2016 Akutagawa Prize)
  5. Trust – Hernan Diaz (2022) – A stunning symphony of love, power, wealth, family and ambition in a bygone America where capitalism is king. (2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
  6. The Return of Faraz Ali – Aamina Ahmad (2022) – A dark and compelling story of secrets, murder and fracturing loyalties set in Lahore’s red-light district in 1968.

“Extraordinarily accomplished. This is a great novel, rich in setting, shocking in its depiction of brute, inexorable power, but unexpectedly sweet in conclusion.” – The Washington Post

  1. The Romantic – William Boyd (2022) – A reliably rambunctious panoramic romp of a soldier, a farmer, a felon and then a writer crossing continents and famous figures in the nineteenth century.
  2. Winter in Sokcho – Elisa Shua Dusapin (2016, trans Aneesa Abbas Higgins 2021) – A delicate tale of identity, intimacy and alienation on the border of the two Koreas. (2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature)
  3. The Overstory – Richard Powers (2018) – An astonishing, sweeping story of nine individuals whose unique life experiences with trees bring them together to address the destruction of forests. (2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

“This ambitious novel soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction.” – The Washington Post