The literary world has changed a lot since 2000. Big beasts such as Updike and Bellow are gone, and the book world is a much more varied and, dare we say it, interesting place.
With that in mind, we have put together a list of our writers’ and critics’ favourite 100 novels of the 21st century. It’s not a canon, just a collection of the novels they have most enjoyed. To cast the net as wide as possible, we have limited ourselves to one book per writer, and we haven’t included crime fiction or thrillers.
There are some surprising inclusions — and some surprising omissions. We see a few trends, too: the rise of “short-story novels” such as Olive Kitteridge and the growth of translated fiction. You will have your own favourites. But we hope this collection of fine novels will prove a spark for further enjoyable reading.
Andrew Holgate, literary editor
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
A gripping, original, much copied tale about a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome (probably) who believes his mother is dead. He sets out to unmask whoever put a garden fork through a neighbour’s dog. (2003)
by Francis Spufford
Recounting the upheaval caused by a mysterious Englishman who arrives in 1746 Manhattan, this narrative taut with twists and turns keeps you gripped until its tour de force end. (2016)
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
by Max Porter
An imaginative tour de force featuring a recently widowed Ted Hughes scholar whose mind is invaded by the figure of the poet’s Crow. (2015; see our review of the stage version, in this section)
Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo
An impressive debut — immediate, unpretentious, with whip-smart dialogue — centred on a family breakdown in Nigeria. (2017)
Click here to see the full list.