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Best of 2001
Top 10 Books

 
BY DANIEL MENDELSOHN
 

Austerlitz, by W. G. Sebald
The German-born writer explores the mysteries of guilt and identity in a densely textured tour de force about a Welsh preacher's son who finds out he's really the child of Czech Jewish Holocaust victims.
Read the full review
Buy it at Amazon

Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
A hypnotic fable about an opera singer who seduces a group of South American terrorists into a new appreciation of what beauty means.
Read the full review
Buy it at Amazon

Borrowed Finery, by Paula Fox
Too long neglected, the Brooklyn-based novelist and author of numerous children's books hits it big with a memoir that, like so much of her work, combines hawk-eyed perceptions, total lack of sentiment, and deep (but never cheap) emotion.
Read the full review
Buy it at Amazon

Collected Poems, by James Merrill
The late, great American master's collected shorter poems prove that his real epic wasn't the Ouija-board Sandover trilogy but the flawless lyrics in which he wrote about -- well, just about everything.
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The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
Oprah, shmoprah -- this sprawling epic of a midwestern family's disintegration is the real thing: an important American novel that sums up the tragedy -- and comedy -- of late-twentieth-century American life.
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How I Came Into My Inheritance, by Dorothy Gallagher
This small but fierce (and fiercely funny) memoir by the New York writer of an unconventional youth never yields to sentimentality -- but the uncompromising ferocity is mixed, winningly, with tenderness.
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The Rock, by Kanan Makiya
In this first novel by the distinguished Iraqi-born architect and journalist, the story of how the Dome of the Rock got built provides a perfect vehicle for exploring the origins of Arab-Jewish-Christian hostility.
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Seabiscuit, by Lauren Hillenbrand
A biography of a racehorse? You betcha. Hillenbrand's rich and often gripping account of a short, squat underdog's improbable transformation into a national icon will have all secret Cinderellas at the edge of their seats.
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The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski
The brilliant Polish journalist and author of devastating accounts of the fall of the Shah and of Haile Selassie turns his attention to the whole continent of Africa, creating a searingly wry and insightful portrait of a continent -- and colonialism.
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Theodore Rex, by Edmund Morris
Morris had to write a quasi novel to give Ronald Reagan some depth and substance; no need for that here. You can almost hear the author sigh with relief to have a subject as interesting -- and substantive -- as Teddy Roosevelt.
Buy it at Amazon

Photograph by Andrew McCaul

 
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