Ah, 2013. The year I stopped reading paper books and started reading on my… phone.
Welcome to the future!
I read 32 books in total. (I should add that I read an awful lot of first-second-third chapters of books before giving up. These are books I actually finished. Also I don’t include reference works). I caught up on some classics – Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (which lent itself to one of the best jokes I think in The Drummer). My favourite book of the year was Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident. I also finally read The Princess Bride! Which is much stranger than I expected, and again, lent some of what it was doing, I think, to The Drummer. And I finally got to read The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont, which I almost got to read in 2007, only the last 10 pages of my paperback were missing – and I was halfway over the ocean on my way to Vanuatu!
In crime, I kept going through both Susana Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew series, and Lindsey Davis’s Falco. And I read the latest Mallory novel from Carol O’Connell. I also read some crime novellas (Drive, The Hunter) and went on a Chester Himes buffet for a while!
Some of the best stuff I read were translated (old and new) novels. These were:
- Sunburnt Faces, Shimon Adaf (PS Publishing, 2013). This is my one cheat – I read it in the original Hebrew, and wrote the introduction for the PS edition. It’s a wonderful book from an incredible writer.
- Monday Begins on Saturday, Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. I read the old translation – the link is to a new translation and new edition from the SF Masterworks series. It’s very very funny. Loved it.
- What Lot’s Wife Saw, Ioanna Bourazopoulou (Black & White Publishing, 2013). I reviewed it here – “a dazzling magic trick of a novel”.
- Rabbit Back Literature Society, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Pushkin Press, 2013). I’ll review it soon, I hope, but it’s fantastic – Twin Peaks meets the Moomins, if that makes any kind of sense. Technically I finished it in 2014 but hey! Read it.
In short stories, I loved China Mieville’s unexpected (it was only released in a limited edition chapbook), “The 9th Technique”, which is brilliant. I also loved 1926 in Brazilian Football, by Aliya Whiteley, which is reprinted in her collection Witchcraft in the Harem (Dog Horn Publishing 2013).
My vote for best new writer of the year is Benjanun Sriduangkaew, who I think is astonishing for a new writer, combining both ambition and the realisation of her ambition – I’m reprinting her Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods (2012) in the forthcoming The Apex Book of World SF 3, and I highly recommend her 2013 fiction – her latest is Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade in Clarkesworld.