7 of 2016’s Best Literary Jewels

As 2016 comes to an end, it’s necessary to look back at the books that helped shape it. We can’t reduce the thousands of amazing oeuvres in one list, but we’ve tried our best to cherry-pick this year’s best works in the literary field.

1. Evicted by Matthew Desmond

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Named as one of the best books of the year by numerous revues such as The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, “Evicted” tells the story of eight families who live in the poorest neighbourhoods of Milwaukee. Even though each family has its unique case, they all share the same economical pain. They are falling behind on their rent, and risk being evicted.

Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius,” Matthew Desmond gives his readers a never-before-seen angle at acute poverty, and new ways to solve this issue.

 

2. The Girls by Emma Cline      

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If you’re fond of coming-of-age stories, then this is the book for you. However, you should be warned. This isn’t your typical book.

Coinciding with American cult leader and murderer, Charles Manson, “The Girls” is a book that revolves around Evie Boyd, a 14-year-old girl trying to be noticed. A divorce and break-up later, she meets Suzanne, and consequently, she gets introduced to Charles.

This page-turner’s final page is bound to haunt you all the way through 2017.

3. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

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Yeong-hye lives a calm life. Her husband is an undistinguished employee, and isn’t so excited about his life. One day, Yeong-hye throws away all the meat from the house. Deciding she wants to become a vegetarian, the only explanation she gives is that “she had a dream.” What her husband doesn’t know is that her dream was “dark, bloody, and aggressive.” When her father tries giving her a taste of a piece of sweet-and-sour pork, she stabs herself. It all gets worse from here.

“The Vegetarian” is the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, and is the first book by Han Kang to be translated into English.

4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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At first, it feels weird to read a book knowing that the author will be dead by the end of it. Before he could finally practise as a qualified surgeon, Paul Kalanithi developed metastatic lung cancer which led to his death at the age of 37.

In his posthumously-published biography, the author narrates his attempts at understanding death and describes his transition from a mighty doctor to a mere patient, saying that he was “so authoritative in a surgeon’s coat but so meek in a patient’s gown.”

Taking into consideration that this book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, it’s definitely worth reading.

5. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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The Underground Railroad is a National Book Award Winner and a #1 New York Times bestseller. It tells the story of Cora, a young black girl who is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Not only is she hated by the white people, but she’s an outcast among her fellow Africans because she is becoming a woman.

Following the events of her escape via “the underground railroad” with the help of a certain Caesar, Colson Whitehead reminds us of what it means to have true freedom.

6. News of The World by Paulette Jiles

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News of The World is one of those heart-warming books out there. It was nominated for the 2016 National Book Award, and follows the story of a 10-year-old girl, who was rescued for the Indians and Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an itinerant news reader.

When Kidd is asked to take the girl to the San Antonio region, he agrees. Inevitably, along the way, these two go through a series of events. From picking fights, to learning how to trust each other, they start to bond, but they both know that in the end, they might not be able to stay together.

7. Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

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“It was just another day in America. And as befits an unremarkable Saturday in America, ten children and teens were killed by gunfire,” write Gary Younge. The British journalist takes a shot at awakening the Americans from their empathy in his book, Another Day in the Death of America, by portraying each of the 10 deceased youngsters. A book that will beg for your empathy.

Think we forgot to include a book? Suggest it to us!

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A voice inspired by the Arab Spring, Raseef22 is an independent media platform, standing at the intersection between community, identity, democracy and social justice movements. Raseef22’s editorial line adopts local values with a modern perspective, filling a cultural void evident in the Arabic language media landscape.

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