Pick their top books of 2018

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BOOKS - Anne Grif­fin John Con­nolly

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.

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