The year’s not quite over, but I’m taking a risk and committing to these as my twelve favourite reads of 2022. Scroll down for single-sentence reviews of eleven recently-published novels (a couple in translation) plus one modern classic. Not unusually for me, there’s a strong social justice theme addressing both contemporary and historical issues, including the on, LGBTQ rights in fiction, climate crisis, religion, race and culture, migration and LGBTQ rights, coupled with strong characterisation, fine writing and touches of humour. Click on the title for my full review of any that take your fancy.
Do let me know which, if any, appeal to you and what have been your favourite reads of the year.
Love Marriage by Monica Ali, published by Virago, is a moving and psychologically astute story of the skeletons that emerge from the closet when the adult children of a South London GP and his homemaker wife, both of Bengali Muslim origin, forge separate lives with their partners.
Devotion by Hannah Kent, published by Picador, is a beautifully-written LGBTQ coming-of-age historical novel set in a community of Old Lutherians embarking on a gruelling six-month voyage to South Australia for the freedom to follow their religion as they choose.
Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson, published by Atlantic, is a story of complicity, corruption and compromise about a young man who saves an art dealer from drowning and gradually becomes embroiled in his life.
The Bones of Barry Knight by Emma Musty, published by Legend Press, is a non-preachy novel about one of the most contentious issues of our time: collusion, compromise, corruption, complexity and complacency within the world’s response to the refugee crisis.
Patience by Toby Litt, published by Galley Beggar Press, is a beautiful story with a unique voice about a boy with cerebral palsy who rises above his body’s limitations and a handicapping regime on a ward run by nuns to find friendship and adventure.
Lacuna by Fiona Snyckers, published by Europa editions, is a thought-provoking, challenging and occasionally funny South African novel that raises questions about white privilege, gender inequality and recovery from trauma, both personal and societal, with a light and playful voice.
First published in 1971, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor is a lovely story, told with compassion and humour, about ageing, friendship and the small deceptions that can support us through tough times.
The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris, published by Tinder Press, is a beautifully written account of the violence that erupts when a landowner employs two former slaves in the American South at the end of the Civil War.
The Fell by Sarah Moss, published by Picador, is a stream of consciousness narrative set in the Peak District that perfectly encapsulates the sense of isolation many will recognise from lockdown.
Let me know in comments what was your favourite read this year.