A good year for book reading was 2009, but more importantly I discovered again the beauty and power of the short story. It was partly a function of time — short stories are often perfectly packaged for those bits of travel or in-between spaces of my life.
A number of “Best of” lists include Daniyal Mueenuddin’s collection, and although I enjoyed his work and working with him, there’s a piece of me that thinks that this collection has captured imaginations in part because Pakistan is so much in the news.
The environment too was in the news frequently, and William Cronon, opened my eyes not to the impact of the changes man has wrought but to the connectivity of history, geography, and the ecology. A classic that’s just as relevant today.
I remain disturbed by much of Nam Le’s collection since reading it. I wasn’t moved by the actual writing so much as left with a sense of the anger and earnestness contained within his stories. There were very few tidy endings, and even when he drifted close to cliché, the suffering of his characters (outward and inward) was more than enough to leave an impression that I can’t quite shake.
So the best this year have to be some of the individual works themselves: A River Runs Through It (Collected Stories of Norman MacLean), Seiche (Granta 108), The Lightless Room (Granta 108), Lily (In Other Rooms), and Cartagena (The Boat).