Books of the year | 2022

Once again the best books of the year were short and to the point. Even before Lockdown I was getting tired of endless 500 page novels, and 10 book series. Since lockdown my concentration levels still haven’t come back and I prefer brevity and lightness over length and density.

Mosin Hamed’s 3rd novel “Last White Man” deals with complex issues of race, identity and difference in a work of speculative fiction that follows his previous novels “Exit West” and “Reluctant Fundamentalist”. Despite the heavy subject matter it is somehow light and intriguing without ever being preachy. A real joy to read.

Aftermath by Preti Taneja won this years Gordon Burn Prize, and tells the story of Usman Khan, who despite being a convicted terrorist, and classed as one of the 100 most dangerous men in the UK was allowed to travel to London to commit a terror attack on London Bridge. Taneja had taught Khan creative writing while in prison for other offences, and knew one of the victims. Her account is brilliant, even if at times her writing style is a bit mannered.

Dance Move by Wendy Erskine is a brilliant book of short stories, most of which feature characters whose adult lives are still haunted by old romances and sexual encounters.

Ben Myer’s latest Perfect Golden Circle is set in a red hot summer in the 1980s and follows 2 friends who sneak out at night to make crop circles. Another great exploration of men and male friendships, best read over a long hot weekend in summertime, with some cider or a big spliff

In non-fiction Simon Kuper’s book Chums, his account of this time at University with Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg at al, is a brilliant read. He effortlessly tells how a life of privilege leads from top private school to Oxford to Westminister. And how, once they got to the top they failed so spectacularly. Boris’s hair, Rees Mogg clothes are all affectations picked by teenage boys with more ambition than personality to help them be memorable, in the same way that other boys were into vindaloos and heavy metal. Except the other boys grew up.

In graphic novels The Department of Truth series is still the best thing going, inside an imaginary US Government Agency trying to operate in a secret world were lies become reality if enough people believe them

And an honourable mention to David Squires, one of the few really great writers left at the Guardian. His stories from the World Cup and the Premier League told as graphic novels told the story of exploited workers more powerfully than any words

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