The 2007 books we liked best: fiction

Of the fiction books reviewed in the Monitor this year, these received the top marks.

PAULA SPENCER, by Roddy Doyle (Viking, 279 pp., $24.95)

In this warm and wryly humorous sequel to "The Woman Who Walked Into Doors," Man Booker Prize-winner Roddy Doyle tells the story of Paula Spencer's sobriety. (Reviewed 1/2/07)

ZOLI, by Colum McCann (Random House, 352 pp., $24.95)

This drama-laced tale, based loosely on the true story of Romany poet Bronislawa "Papusza" Wajs, spans the Holocaust, the coming of the Communists, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. (1/9/07)

IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN, by Hisham Matar (Dial Press, 246 pp., $22)

This emotionally wrenching and gorgeously written novel about a young Libyan boy left alone with his mother when his dissident father disappears was shortlisted for last year's Man Booker prize. (2/6/07)

LOST CITY RADIO, by Daniel Alarcón (HarperCollins, 272 pp., $24.95)

Twenty-something Peruvian-born novelist Alarcón's first novel is a haunting, beautifully written tale of lonely lives and broken hearts set in an unnamed Latin American dictatorship. (2/13/07)

FINN,by Jon Clinch (Random House, 287 pp., $23.95)

Novelist Jon Clinch offers a cruel but compelling back story for the life of Huck Finn's Pap. (2/27/07)

THEN WE CAME TO THE END,by Joshua Ferris (Little, Brown, 387 pp., $23.99)

In this pitch-perfect office comedy, Joshua Ferris captures the angst of the pointlessly employed. (3/6/07)

HEYDAY,by Kurt Andersen (Random House, 640 pp., $26.95)

Kurt Andersen serves up a sprawling, messy, enthusiastic romp of a novel that takes readers on a wild ride through 1848 New York. (3/27/07)

BOOMSDAY,by Christopher Buckley (Twelve, 318 pp., $24.99)

"Generation Whatever" turns on the boomers in Christopher Buckley's sharp, satiric gibe at political folly. (4/3/07)

PETROPOLIS,by Anya Ulinich (Viking, 336 pp., $24.95)

Chubby Sasha Goldberg faces life as a biracial Jewish teenager in Asbestos 2, a town in Siberia, in this funny, fiery debut novel. (4/6/07)

THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION,by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, 432 pp., $26.95)

Michael Chabon packs big ideas and an entertaining story into a noir detective tale that imagines a Jewish homeland in Alaska. (5/1/07)

AFTER DARK,by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 191 pp., $22)

Through a series of chance encounters in the wee hours of a Tokyo night, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami captures the loneliness of modern life. (5/15/07)

MAYTREES,by Annie Dillard (HarperCollins, 224 pp., $24.95)

Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Dillard's latest novel, set on Cape Cod, combines themes of marriage, forgiveness, and a life lived close to nature. (6/5/07)

THE SHADOW CATCHER,by Marianne Wiggins (Simon & Schuster, 336 pp., $25)

Marianne Wiggins uses the life of legendary Western photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis as the basis of this novel that turns into a meditation on family and memory and ranges from Leonardo da Vinci to Route 66. (7/3/07)

THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ,by Dalia Sofer (Ecco Press, 336 pp., $24.95)

Iranian-born novelist Dalia Sofer uses 1981 as the backdrop to her story of a young Iranian woman whose father is arrested for the double crime of having lived well under the shah and for being Jewish. (7/17/07)

LOVING FRANK,by Nancy Horan (Ballantine, 368 pp., $23.95)

Frank Lloyd Wright's married, intellectual lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney steps out of the shadows to narrate this debut novel by journalist Nancy Horan. (8/7/07)

THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO,by Junot Díaz (Riverhead Books, 339 pp., $24.95)

In this debut novel, Junot Díaz tells the story of a Dominican-American "ghetto nerd" teen trapped in his own fantasies. (9/11/07)

TREE OF SMOKE,by Denis Johnson (FSG, 624 pp., $27)

After nearly a 10-year wait, fans of Denis Johnson were rewarded this year by the release of his latest novel, the gripping tale of a CIA agent toiling in Asia during the Vietnam War. (9/14/07)

BRIDGE OF SIGHS,by Richard Russo (Yale University Press, 229 pp., $25)

Richard Russo revisits familiar territory with this story of the reunion of a couple stuck in their upstate hometown and their high school friend who long ago left for Italy. (10/2/07)

RUN,by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins, 304 pp., $25.95)

Two Boston families unexpectedly collide in Ann Patchett's latest novel, a tender examination of the nonbiological ties that truly create family. (10/9/07)

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