Every year at FSG, we ask our staff to come together and talk about their “Best Books” of the year. This year, we asked them to tell us about an FSG book that they’ll be gifting along with their favorite books from 2022.
Gifting: I’m going to gift American Caliph because I think my father will like it (not very exciting I know).
Favorite: My favorite book I read this year was True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne or After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre.
Gifting: Always gifting The Mountain in the Sea. It’s such an adventure, it thrills and entertains, but more than that, it’s a novel that really wrestles with the idea of what “self” is, and what it means to share this planet with other selves (many-armed selves in the ocean, robot selves, and on and on).”
Favorite: I think for the mix of weird, crazy, dangerous, and WTF factor, I’ll say. It’s twisted and brutal and it doesn’t really give you any room to breathe, but Melchor’s style, her depiction of the psychological impacts of misogyny and violence, is freakishly good.
Gifting: Dan Charnas’s Dilla Time. It’s a cinematic, immersive, and revealing deep dive into the most unsung architect of modern music.
Favorite: Rachel Aviv’s Strangers to Ourselves. Paradigm shifting, absolutely wrenching, instantly classic. As good as it gets.
Gifting: Yiyun Li’s The Book of Goose, for anyone who can appreciate an uncanny, unflinching look at youth, friendship, art, and deception, one that flips you upside down and backwards with its distinctive, unsettling narrative voice. Also, perhaps the best two opening lines I’ve read in recent memory: ‘You cannot cut an apple with an apple. You cannot cut an orange with an orange.’”
Favorite: Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Lived-in, transporting, immersive setting and characters. Twisty plot, with many shades of moral gray. Humor! So much info about early 60s dinettes from our furniture salesman hero!
Gifting: The Letters of Thom Gunn: A beautiful collection of words slotted into place lovingly, curiously, intellectually, with a wink . . . Come to read about poetry, sex, drugs, and how good Glenn Danzig looks in leather, and stay for the sheer amount of life a book like this can contain. A gift that keeps on giving.
Favorite: J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello might be my favorite book now.
Gifting: Rachel Aviv’s Strangers to Ourselves, a book that will resonate with many readers’ experiences of mental suffering.
Favorite: Adom Getachew’s Worldmaking after Empire, a brilliant, revelatory, and paradigm-shifting history of the decolonization movement. I learned something new on every page.
Gifting: I am giving Four Thousand Weeks this year, and every year until the world is papered with this brilliant, compassionate, funny, just profoundly helpful book. Oliver Burkeman is the wise, charming friend you need by your side in these times.”
Favorite: All the books I published this year are my favorites, naturally, but I did love Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk. An engrossing, chilling, darkly funny journey through a far-too-realistic dystopian landscape. Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and damn funny.
Gifting: This year I’ll be gifting Kaitlyn Tiffany’s Everything I Need I Get From You, which I devoured in a day over the summer. It’s one of the most fun and incisive books I’ve read in a while!
Favorite: My favorite book that I read in 2022 was The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. I learn so much from everything Laing writes, and The Lonely City really resonated with me.
Gifting: I’m not getting anyone any books for Christmas this year, but I did just send my father-in-law Super-Infinite, by Katherine Rundell. He loved it, and said, “What a pleasure. So alert, and easy-written–a social/literary history and biography that’s more fun than the movies.
Favorite: The best book I read this year is the novel Climats, by Andre Maurois. It’s a close study of love and jealousy that examines one man through two marriages and from two main points of view, and I thought it was sensitive and perceptive and emotionally/psychologically believable (which is not something I always think of books from the 1920s). Also, according to the descriptive copy for Other Press’s 2012 edition (trans. Adriana Hunter), Climats was such a bestseller when it was originally published that the Russian edition sold out its 100.000-copy print run on the first day of sale, which is nuts. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t plug William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow, which clocks in at only 130-something pages and in which there’s not a single word out of place. A heartbreaking look at loss and tragedy and growing up. Now that I type this, I have to admit it’s a better book than Climats, but I read it early in the year and it’s not as fresh in my mind.
Gifting: I’m giving Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell this year. It’s a book that none of the recipients will have already bought or even know they will enjoy, but they will ! They’re in for a treat.”
Favorite: I re-read Persuasion by Jane Austen this year. In these two years with COVID, I find myself gravitating to novels that offer humanity and wisdom rather than bleakness and sharp edges. Also, Persuasion was a favorite of my father’s–a writer, teacher, father of four who taught me the fine art of reading several books at the same time, a skill that has come in handy in publishing.
Gifting: Pure Colour by Sheila Heti. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read and I love telling people about it! It’s also a really powerful meditation on grief and I’ll be giving it to someone who lost someone recently, as I think it will really resonate with them.
Favorite: Bliss Montage by Ling Ma. I loved this collection and everything Ling Ma writes.