2023 Book recommendations Part II – Novels

by Maria on December 15, 2023

Rightso! Novels. My three runaway favourite novels this year, which I recommend to you wholeheartedly, are Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind, Vajra Chandrasekera’s The Saint of Bright Doors and, friend of this parish, Francis Spufford’s Cahokia Jazz. Cahokia Jazz I want to write something dedicated about, and imminently, so let me tell you about the first two now.

Rumaan Alam’s apocalyptic Leave the World Behind came out in 2020, and a Netflix adaptation has just been released. Read the novel first. From what I’ve seen of the trailer (and it looks great), the film takes place during a more explicit and amped up catastrophe, making it a very different kind of beast. The novel is more subtle and mysterious about an unfolding disaster which, at first, only insidiously impinges on what starts as a class and race-based comedy of manners, with a high social capital white New York couple taking their perfect family to a perfect vacation house outside of New York, only to be disturbed one night by the house’s Black owners seeking refuge from the city. One of my sisters gave the book to me as we returned home from a holiday, and I read it straight through on a horribly delayed flight, barely even registering the usual Ryanair shenanigans and the misery of freezing, drunk-filled Liverpool Street night buses, I was so rapt. Ironic, really, how a book about an (at first) insidious apocalypse gets you through the falling down bits of broken Britain in the dead of winter.
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