1. Pynchon, Thomas. Against the Day. Penguin, $35 (9781594201202).
Pynchon is as erudite, inventive, satirical, and trenchant as ever in this many-faceted, globe-circling novel about family, love, exploration, technological advances, metaphysical conundrums, greed, and conquest in the years leading inexorably to World War I.
2. Eggers, Dave. What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng. McSweeney’s, $26 (1-932416-64-1).
Deng is a Sudanese "Lost Boy," and his story is one of unimaginable suffering. Reworking Deng’s powerful tale with both deep feeling and subtlety, Eggers finds humanity and even humor, creating something much greater than a litany of woes or a script for political outrage.
3. Powers, Richard. The Echo Maker. Farrar, $25 (0-374-14635-7).
In this remarkable novel, Powers explores how humans as a species smooth out the rough spots in their lives, tuning out the natural world and straying from instincts that might keep us alive.
These are the books I'm looking forward to reading soon:
1. Adrian, Chris. The Children’s Hospital. McSweeney’s, $24 (1-932416-60-9).
In this elegant and enormously wondrous novel, the world has come to an end. A devastating, transformative tale.
2. Brown, Frederick. Flaubert. Little, Brown, $35 (0-316-11878-8).
Brown’s landmark biography deftly limns the turns—psychological, artistic, amorous—by which Flaubert turned away from what he feared would be a destiny of dull conformity.
3. Feinstein, Elaine. Anna of All Russias: The Life of Anna Akhmatova. Knopf, $26.95 (1-4000-4089-2).
In the first biography of the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova in decades, Feinstein chronicles, with exceptional political and literary expertise, the life of the legendary beauty and regal stoic whose defiance of the Soviet regime gave hope to a tyrannized land.
4. Peterson, Dale. Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man. Houghton, $35 (0-395-85405-9).
Goodall is admired all around the world for her revolutionary work with chimpanzees, but as Peterson reveals in this vivid and insightful biography, the hardships she faced and the extent of her accomplishments as a scientist and humanist are far greater than most imagine.
[titles and descriptions from Booklist Editor's Choice 2006]