Pick their top books of 2018
In The Adulterants (Hamish Hamilton, €14.65) Joe Dunthorne delivers some fantastic laugh-out-loud moments. Ray Morris is a know-it-all who has cheated on his pregnant girlfriend. Set during the 2011 London riots, there is something satisfyingly tragic about watching Ray walk himself from one disaster to another.
Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists (Tinder Press, €10.15) is an addictive read. In 1969, the Gold siblings sneak out of their New York home to visit a psychic who can predict when they will die. Over the next 40 years, we observe how each deals with the weight of their destinies.
In John Boyne’s A Ladder to the Sky (Doubleday, €20.99), we meet Maurice Swift, an ambitious, inept writer. His talent lies elsewhere, specifically in the cruelty he can unleash on others for selfish gain. For pitch perfect writing, indulge yourself in the sharp wit of Part II when we meet Gore Vidal.
Andrew Miller’s Now We Shall Be Entirely Free (Sceptre, €21.40) is a gripping historical novel. With prose that is at times breath-taking, it examines what war does to reasonable men. Set in 1809 after Britain’s Spanish campaign in the Peninsular war, we are immersed in the hunt for a British officer over war crimes.
Anne Griffin’s debut novel
(Sceptre, €14.65) will be out in January 2019.
The most unexpected literary delight of my year was Their Brilliant Careers: The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers (Black Inc, (€11.25) by Ryan O’neill. The twist is that none of the writers in question will be familiar even to the most learned of readers, because all are fictitious. From this unlikely premise, O’neill creates something funny, clever, and often moving. I particularly liked the entry about the poet whose broadsides earned him the ire of his peers, including “more than 50 death threats, in both free and regular verse”.
Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm (Square Peg, €16.90) was a witty, evocative account of childhood reading, and made me want to return to some of the books I read as a boy.
Finally, I’m in awe of Becky Chambers, whose thrilling and deeply humane novels — including this year’s Record of a Spaceborn Few (Hodder, €16.90) — have caused me fall in love with science fiction all over again.
John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker thriller, ‘ (Hodder, €19.15), is out now.