2011 End of Year Book Meme: part one

Posted: December 30, 2011 in Argentina, Book Awards, Brazil, France, Italy, memes, Norway, notes, Scandinavia, Sicily, South Africa, Sweden, Venice

I discovered this meme at Bernadette’s Reactions to Reading and have decided to expand it a little as choosing just one book is tricky in some categories. 

1] Best Book of 2011 originally written in English

The difficulty in choosing a best book even when you read only 19 originally written in English is remembering the impact a book you read in January or February had on you in comparison with one you read two weeks ago. But I would vote for:

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin 

2] Best Books of 2011 translated into English

I read some brilliant translated fiction this year.We are so lucky to have at this time a group of superb translators able to bring these books to an English readership.  

My choices are two very different but equally exceptional books: 

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen translated by Lisa Hartford aka Tiina Nunnaly 

Trackers by Deon Meyer translated by Laura Seegers 

3] Worst Book of 2011

Most authors regard their books like children, and get very upset at negative reviews. Therefore as part of my New Year resolution to be kinder to everyone, except useless politicians and biased journalists, I am not going to select a book in this category. 😉

4] Most disappointing books

There were a couple that fitted that category. 

The Troubled Man-Henning Mankell: which was very depressing to read if you were a man of a certain age facing some of the problems Wallander does in the book. Actually he is younger than me! Was Henning Mankell suffering a Conan Doyle moment with his popular protagonist? It seemed like it.

River of Shadows-Valerio Varesi: I expected a more appealing protagonist, Soneri was dull and the plot development was catatonic. 

5] Most surprising in a good way

Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter was so hyped and had won the CWA Gold Dagger and also been nominated for an Edgar that I was very surprised when it was in fact very good. I rarely agree with prize judges, with the exception of two who weren’t involved in these awards, so it was indeed a pleasant surprise to enjoy this book so much.

6] Book you recommended to people most

The book I recommended to people during the year was Nemesis by Jo Nesbo translated by Don Bartlett. Several people I know had started with The Redbreast and found the WWII backstory  heavy going, and I encouraged them to continue with the series as Nemesis and The Devil’s Star are in my opinion still among the best Nordic crime fiction I have read. 

7] Best series you discovered

This is a difficult one because I think usually you need to read two or three books to discover a series which you are going to stick with through to the end. I have already “discovered” several great series in previous years, which of course I carried on reading this year. Hakan Nesser’s idiosyncratic Van Veeteren stories, Leighton Gage’s Mario Silva and the Brazilian Federal police investigations, Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel in pre-war Germany series, John Lawton’s social history of England Troy series, Donna Leon’s Brunettis, Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano mysteries, Ernesto Mallo’s Inspector Lascano’s struggles in Argentina, Fred Vargas and her Inspector Adamsberg, Asa Larsson and her Rebecka Martinssson cases, Jo Nesbo and Harry Hole, Martin Edwards and Hannah Scarlett, Aly Monroe’s Peter Cotton …….the list goes on and on. 

But this year I discovered Jussi Adler Olsen’s Department Q in Mercy and Arne Dahl’s Intercrime series in Misterioso.  Both books translated by the charming Tiina Nunnally.

I hope the publishers arrange for both these series to get translated  in a timely fashion, and the correct order, because they could prove the next big thing in Nordic crime fiction. 

[To be continued]

  1. Maxine says:

    great choices, Norman. And very diplomatic 😉 I don’t disagree with any of them actually – I am very grateful to our group of “intelligent crime fiction” bloggers as it is certainly a brilliant way to filter out the dross and reveal the reading jewels! So glad you liked CLCL in particular as I am always a bit nervous of recommending books – not sure if I had anything to do with you reading it but if I did, I am very relieved you liked it.

  2. Norman says:

    It was your excellent review, and that of Bernadette, that encouraged me to read CLCL. Of course I love those small Southern town stories that remind of the days when I could afford holidays in the USA. 😉

  3. I like your choices too and your philisophy

  4. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – These are some excellent choices :-). Thanks for doing this; I’m enjoying seeing what everyone’s choices are.

  5. Jose Ignacio says:

    A superb selection.

  6. Norman says:

    Thanks Maxine, Margot, Bernadette and Jose Ignacio, I am going to try and finish this meme tomorrow.

  7. […] End of the Year book meme (see Jen’s Book Thoughts, Reactions to Reading, Crime Scraps and The Game’s Afoot) is a little more challenging to the blogger than the more lazy (but […]

  8. […] End of the Year book meme follows on from Petrona’s, Jen’s Book Thoughts, Reactions to Reading, Crime Scraps and The Game’s Afoot.  It proved a challenge to […]

  9. Gigistar says:

    Hi Norman,
    I’m so with you on Crooked Letter Crooked Letter. Such a tremendous read!! All the way up in my best-of-2011 personal list.

    Ciao from Italy

    PS: Swedish crime writers are a HUGE thing here in Italy. It’s been like that since Stieg Larsson’s bomb landed on our bookstores. Hard to tell the good from the bad ones, though.

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