Number 2. Jonathan Franzen – Freedom.
This came as a total surprise as I have attempted to read Freedom a couple of times and had difficulty going beyond a couple of pages but this year it seems that everything was perfect and I ploughed through it in less than a week.
Dare I say that Freedom is better than Franzen’s previous novel, The Corrections? The book focuses on the disintegration of a typical suburban family post 9/11. As one can expect there’s break ups, break downs and tons of drama but just in case one thinks that Franzen is a cold hearted cynic there’s a big beating heart in this novel. oh there’s a sub plot about the Cerulean Warbler too! This is an epic novel with fully realised characters and many memorable moments.
Number 1. Ali Smith Autumn & Winter.
Those who know me probably would have guessed that these two novels would take the top spot. I am a huge fan of Ali Smith and with both Autumn and Winter she has outdone herself.
These volumes are the first parts of a four book cycle, all focusing on a season. However the main plot is about post Brexit Britain. As always Smith crams loads of themes in her work so these two novels are about art,feminism,politics, racism,media and more. Since this is Ali Smith, there’s a lot of playful prose, puns and surreal moments. Saying that, these novels display Smith’s more angry side and the reader can feel her displeasure at current events, especially in Winter. Smith does not leave it there though as she compares current events with past ones and finds similarities, the main conclusion being that history repeats itself. One little note, both these volumes are intricately linked even though it doesn’t seem so at first but I’ll let you figure out how Smith does it.
With these two volumes Ali Smith has proved that an author can be experimental and accessible at the same time and it also proves that she is still a unique voice in literature today and I’m glad that there are authors like her who are making readers aware of what is happening to the world and not in a preachy way.