The Best Fiction of the Year

Kobo’s global team of booksellers share the top titles in each of their territories

Posted by Ben Landau December  16, 2016
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Our booksellers are also booklovers; they do what they love and love what they do, and are the first in line to read the new releases every season. We asked them to tell us about their favourite fiction of 2016.

They complained about having to choose just one book because there is so much to choose from but we held firm.

This, then, is their list of the best fiction of 2016, from around the world. Some are not yet available in English but fingers are crossed that they soon will be. All sound amazing:

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Hag Seed, Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed, an enchanting reconstruction of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project—which sees Shakespeare’s works retold by some of the most acclaimed authors of today.

Sara, our bookseller for Canada said this: “What a completely delightful, stylishly intelligent, magically original novel. Hag-Seed often made me laugh, and once brought me to the brink of tears; I thrilled through the fourth act and genuinely felt as though I’d lost a friend after finishing the last page. You don’t have to be familiar with The Tempest in order to appreciate Atwood’s enchanting reconstruction of Shakespeare’s play; Hag-Seed stands on its own while at the same time offering deeply insightful and enriching engagement with its source material. Hag-Seed is perfect Shakespeare in and of itself, and my favourite novel (so far) by Atwood. The Bard, I believe, would approve. I loved it.”

Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty

For Team Australia, the top novel of the year comes from a beloved, homegrown talent. Truly Madly Guilty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship, and shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships; how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do; and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

As our Australian bookseller, Deandra explained: “The way Moriarty highlights intricacies of family life continues to entrance and captivate us in a way so few authors can.”

Lo Schiavista (The Sellout), Paul Beatty

Our Italian merchandising lead Stefano picked the Man Booker Prize winner, The Sellout, as his favourite book of the year.

He told us: “I usually cringe when I read "this book made me laugh out loud!", as it never happens to me. Well, this book actually did it. Plus, it's beautifully written (and translated), a sharp satire and very timely commentary.”

Elsewhere in Europe, it’s been a banner year for mysteries.

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Das Paket (The Package), Sebastian Fitzek

It’s not yet available in English, but keep an eye out for this thriller. Sebastian Fitzek’s whip-smart new novel The Package takes home the crown for the year’s top title, according to our German bookseller, Sabine.

“But be warned,” Sabine said, “after reading this book, you might not be able to open your door for a package delivery anymore.”

Todo esto te dare (All This I will Give You), Dolores Redondo

Our head merchandiser for Spain and Mexico swears by this book by Dolores Redondo. An unexpected death. A dark family secret. The search for truth in the heart of a legendary land. All This I will Give You is both literary and impossibly addictive.

“It is a classic story of finding that the person you loved isn’t the person you thought you knew” Santiago said.

Judas, Astrid Holleeder

We couldn’t do a global list without mentioning this astonishingly huge bestseller from the Netherlands. It took the country by storm and by surprise – selling out in print across the country. (lucky us – digital is always available.) This is one to watch – it will surely be translated into all languages soon.  

Narcotica (Nacotics), Emelie Schepp

Tessa, our lead merchandiser in the Netherlands loved this, and says: “sleepless nights guaranteed!” After the success of her debut Memento the Swedish author Emelie Schepp wrote this breathtaking thriller -- At the Norrköping station a woman was found dead in a train. Turns, out, she died while smuggling drugs and it turns out she wasn’t travelling alone...

En attendant Bojangles (Waiting for Bojangles), Olivier Bourdeaut

This is another one we’re anxiously waiting for in translation, and was a top pick for both our Italian and French booksellers.

Told from the perspective of young boy, the story follows his idyllic life with his mother and father (filled with spontaneous vacations, big parties and an exotic bird flying freely in their apartment). One day however, his mother goes too far, her exuberance turning to madness and the boy watches as his father tries to keep their world together.

Marie, our French bookseller, said “I loved it because we read the story from the little boy's point of view. The things he doesn't understand - and we, as adult, do. It’s amazing that this book, released without any marketing plan, has become such a sensation through word of mouth. And rightfully so—it’s gorgeous.” Stefano, our Italian merchandiser said “I loved that book so much. It starts out as a beautiful fairy tale and ends up ripping your heart out.”

Did your personal favourite make the list? Let us know your picks below!

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