The process of choosing favorites when it comes to books is exceptionally agonizing. While we can narrow things down, selecting ten from the hundreds of books read feels like insanity. There are so many good books in 2021 — how can a reader choose? But we narrowed the list and are happy to share our 10 best fiction books of 2021!
A park in the Scottish Highlands is the site of tension and unease for a group of vacationing strangers. Suspenseful and intimate, we see family life in various stages framed by nature, which becomes a character in itself. An exploration of our capacity for kinship and cruelty, and a gorgeous evocation of the natural world that bears eternal witness.
Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
With grim prospects in Bogotá, a young family sets their sights on the United States. As their family expands, they plunge into undocumented status. When Mauro is deported, Elena is now tasked with caring for their three small children. She makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further. A novel about a mixed-status Colombian family fractured by deportation.
A woman invites a famous artist to use her guesthouse in the remote coastal landscape where she lives with her family. Powerfully drawn to his paintings, she believes his vision might penetrate the mystery at the center of her life. But his provocative presence itself becomes an enigma and disrupts the calm of her secluded household.
An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home. She’s drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim’s sister. And she’s pulled into an explosive political controversy when she’s asked to interpret for a former president accused of war crimes.
Ailey is the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers. She follows in her parents’ footsteps by attending an HBCU. We see her reckon with ancestral trauma while growing up in the 1980s and ’90s and her family history from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to the present day.
Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young–but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?
Inspired by Mrs. Dalloway and Sula, as well as Audre Lorde’s Zami, a layered, naturally funny, and deeply human examination of two women at midlife who were friends and lovers. They rediscover themselves and reflect on their life choices, sexuality, and race.
What do you think about the books on this list?
Have you read any books from this list? What are your favorite fiction books of 2021? What books would you add to the list?
- The 10 Best Fiction Books of 2022
- The 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2022
- The 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2021
- The 10 Best Fiction Books of 2020