Top 10 books of 2023


Benjamin Myers takes readers on a dizzying journey through history with a tale centred around Saint Cuthbert and the Durham Cathedral in Cuddy. The story finds coherence as it resonates through separate sections told in wildly differing styles.
Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions For You uses the creation of a true crime podcast to explore their popularity and their impact but also a range of other issues. Makkai makes readers think deeply about the issues that she is raising in an engaging, often quietly devastating way.
Rebecca F Kuang moves away from fantasy to deliver a takedown of the modern publishing industry and issues of representation and voice. Much like her previous book, Babel, Yellowface asks readers to think about the impact of language and culture and the persistent effects of colonialism and imperialism on how we think and act.
Samantha Harvey’s Orbital is a prose poem, that charts a day in the life of six astronauts on the international space station as they compete 16 orbits of the Earth. But it is much more than this – a meditation and a love letter to the Earth and to humanity.
Eleanor Catton’s first novel in ten years is insightful, witty and compelling. Birnam Wood is a character-rich exploration of the modern world, conservationists and performative environmentalism.


Jessica Johns’ debut Bad Cree is an indigenous horror story that explores the enduring consequences of colonisation in Canada while highlighting and celebrating the resilience of the indigenous community.

Small Mercies finds Dennis Lehane back in the familiar territory of South Boston in the 1970s. Lehane uses familier elements to make some larger points – about the poisonous nature of racism, about the way communities can be used by the unscrupulous, about redemption and second chances. Small Mercies is one of his excoriating best.

Dominic Smith takes readers to one of the dying villages of Italy with Return to Valetto. It is a compassionate and affecting tale full of memorable characters set within a stunning yet melancholy landscape.

Award winning Korean author Hwang Sok-yong delivers his magnum opus in Mater 2-10, an epic history of 20th Century Korea told through the eyes of one working class family.

Nick Harkaway’s Titanium Noir delivers pitch perfect noir through the voice of a world weary detective in a dangerous world. This genre mashup of noir crime and science fiction tropes is cynical and sharp with not a word wasted.


Robert Goodman
For more of Robert’s reviews, visit his blog Pile By the Bed

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