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The NYT 100 Best Books of 2008 Announced

abstract:Each year I look forward to seeing which titles make it onto the NYT Top 100 List of Books in 2008. As a book reviewer I enjoy comparing notes on the books that passed my desk courtesy of the marketing departments of the publishers, and look forward to discovering the books we missed. It's interesting to tally which publishers have the strongest showing because it indicates to me the strength of their editorial departments. Publishers Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Knopf factor frequently this year. Check out these titles from the larger alphabetized 100 list. Any book club worth its salt would want to read them. There's something of interest everyone; supernatural call girls, paralyzed dissidents, Aussi surf noir characters, and whole insect colonies.
—photo:The Times Skyscraper


November 30, 2008


THE SACRED BOOK OF THE WEREWOLF: A Novel. By Victor Pelevin. Translated by Andrew Bromfield. (Viking, $25.95.) A supernatural call girl narrates Pelevin’s satirical allegory of post-Soviet, post-9/11 Russia.

THE WIDOWS OF EASTWICK. By John Updike. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this ingenious sequel to “The Witches of Eastwick,” the three title characters, old ladies now, renew their sisterhood, return to their old hometown and contrive to atone for past crimes.

BACARDI AND THE LONG FIGHT FOR CUBA: The Biography of a Cause. By Tom Gjelten. (Viking, $27.95.) An NPR correspondent paints a vivid portrait of the anti-Castro clan behind the liquor empire.

BEIJING COMA: A Novel. By Ma Jian. Translated by Flora Drew. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.50.) Ma’s novel, an important political statement, looks at China through the life of a dissident paralyzed at Tiananmen Square.

BREATH: A Novel. By Tim Winton. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) Surfing offers this darkly exhilarating novel’s protagonist an escape from a drab Australian town.


CAPITOL MEN: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen. By Philip Dray. (Houghton Mifflin, $30.) A collective biography of the pioneers of black political involvement.

HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America. By Thomas L. Friedman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.95.) The Times columnist turns his attention to possible business-friendly solutions to global warming.

HOW FICTION WORKS. By James Wood. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) Concentrating on the art of the novel, the New Yorker critic presents a compact, erudite vade mecum with acute observations on individual passages and authors.

THE SUPERORGANISM: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. By Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson. (Norton, $55.) The central conceit of this astonishing study is that an insect colony is a single animal raised to a higher level.

THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul. By Patrick French. (Knopf, $30.) French has created a monument fully worthy of its subject, elucidating the enduring but painfully asymmetrical love triangle at the core of Naipaul’s life and work.



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