Best books of 2009: fiction

What we here at the Monitor liked best in 2009.

Lark and Termite
By Jayne Anne Phillips
Knopf
72 pp., $24
Jayne Anne Phillips’s latest – set in the 1950s, split between Korea and West Virignia – is a rich, deeply poetic tale of extraordinary familial love. (Monitor review on 1/13/09)

The Help
By Kathryn Stockett
Putnam
453 pp., $24.95
In 1960s Jackson, Miss., a young white woman decides to interview the black maids in her hometown of Jackson, Miss. (Monitor review on 3/4/09)

The Weight of Heaven
By Thrity Umrigar
HarperCollins
365 pp., $25.99
Devastated by the loss of their child, an American couple try to rebuild their lives in India. (Monitor review on 4/10/09)

Woodsburner
By John Pipkin
Doubleday, 366 pp., $28.95
When Henry David Thoreau set the Concord woods on fire. (Monitor review on 5/25/09)

The Thing Around Your Neck
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Knopf
218 pp., $24.95
A powerful, deftly assembled collection of short stories about Nigerians caught in the pull between Nigeria and the West. (Monitor review on 7/30/09)

Let the Great World Spin
By Colum McCann
Random House
349 pp. $26
This gritty but lyrical novel follows the lives of various New Yorkers who watched Philippe Petit walk a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers on Aug. 7, 1974. (Monitor review on 7/24/09)

The Anthologist
By Nicholson Baker
Simon & Schuster
245 pp., $25
A poet’s severe writer’s block becomes the excuse for Nicholson Baker’s daft, brilliant, hilarious novel.(Monitor review on 9/28/09)

Love and Summer
By William Trevor
Penguin Group
212 pp., $25.95
A gentle, masterly tale of love and betrayal in a small Irish farm town. (Monitor review on 9/26/09)

A Gate at the Stairs
By Lorrie Moore
Knopf
336 pp., $25
Family, race, and religion mingle in this incisive coming-of-age novel about a college girl disillusioned by what she sees of adult life. (Monitor review on 9/18/09)

Mathilda Savitch
By Victor Lodato
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
304 pp., $25
A sad, sharp, precocious teen struggles for a place in her parents’ hearts – and the world – after losing her older sibling. (Monitor review on 9/12/09)

The Children’s Book
By A.S. Byatt
Knopf
688 pp., $26.95
In her best novel since “Possession,” A.S. Byatt spins a tale from details of the life of children’s book author Edith Nesbit. (Monitor review on 10/9/09)

Wolf Hall
By Hilary Mantel
Henry Holt
532 pp., $27
The winner of this year’s Booker Prize offers a sympathetic and compelling portrayal of Thomas Cromwell, the power behind Henry VIII’s throne. (Monitor on 10/17/09)

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