Edge

BEST OF BOOKS: Ian McEwan reaffirms his literary mastery

We may have turned the page on 2007, but these literary treats of the year gone by are worthy of a second glance.

“On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan
With “On Chesil Beach,” McEwan solidifies his place as one of the 21st century’s master storytellers. Recounting a newlywed couple’s first forays into intimacy, both physical and emotional, “On Chesil Beach” is stunning and controversial in its sheer, unapologetic honesty.

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death” by Jean-Dominique Bauby
After suffering a stroke in 1995, the French editor of Elle magazine was left nearly incapacitated by a rare condition known as locked-in syndrome, in which a patient is fully aware but unable to move or communicate due to complete paralysis (a result of a sever brain stem lesion). To complete “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Bauby was read a frequency-ordered alphabet until he blinked, indicating choice of a specific letter. The novel chronicles his everyday experiences with locked-in syndrome and attains a resiliency and legacy the reader will likely never forget.

“Run” by Ann Patchett
In telling a tale of two African-American boys adopted at infancy by an Irish-Catholic Bostonian politician, Patchett toys with the loose seam of what it means to be human, seemingly accidentally unraveling a story wrought with inherent imperfections and subtle honesties.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini chronicles the losses, abuses and friendships of a young Afghan girl as she struggles to find hope in a society filled with misogynistic tendencies.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling
The final book in Rowling’s beloved seven-part series masterfully ties up most loose ends and exudes an ironic, if not startling, sense of humor lacking in previous installments.

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert recounts her journey through Italy, India and Indonesia in search of the trinity of self-actualization (good food, faith and love), all the while providing readers with their own opportunities of fulfillment.

“The Nine” by Jeffrey Toobin
Though nonfiction often holds little appeal for both seasoned and casual readers, Toobin’s “The Nine” cannot be justifiably excluded from any “Best of 2007” list. Added bonus: Its “enjoyable yet educational” nature makes it incredibly useful in beefing up those essay answers on political science tests.

“Falling Man” by Don DeLillo
Borrowing its title from the harrowing and unforgettable photograph taken of a man jumping from the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, “Falling Man” is the tale of lawyer and 9/11 survivor Keith Neudecker.

“World Without End” by Ken Follett
“World Without End” focuses on the priory of the nearby cathedral of Kingsbridge, interweaving the slowing ideological modernization of the church with the Black Death epidemic and the initiation of the Hundred Years’ War.

“Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan
Horan tells the story of a real-life love affair involving Frank Lloyd Wright with a plucky, intelligent woman who sacrificed almost endlessly to maintain her relationship.

Kate Coza may be contacted at k.koza@umiami.edu.

January 17, 2008

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