We are delighted for our four authors and their publishers that Publishers Weekly has selected these titles among their Top Ten “Best Books 2011” announced online this afternoon and in their Monday, November 7 print edition:
PW Best Books 2011: The Top 10
The Devil All the Time by Daniel Ray Pollock (Doubleday)
Take a man from Ohio who’s worked blue collar, send him for an M.F.A., and set him loose. Pollock, whose debut collection, Knockemstiff, was a knockout, strikes again with a terrifying cast of rural characters: the haunted WWII veteran, the husband and wife serial killers who target young men along the Interstate, the predatory revival preacher and his wheelchair-bound guitar-playing cousin, all tied together with violence, sin, and gorgeous prose into a mesmerizing slice of Americana.
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie (Random)
Pulitzer-winning biographer Massie—of Nicholas and Alexandra and of Peter the Great—now relates the life of a German princess, Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst, who became Empress Catherine II of Russia. Once again Massie delivers, with this masterful, intimate, and tantalizing portrait of a majestic monarch.
There but for the by Ali Smith (Pantheon)
One night at an unruly dinner party, a guest named Miles goes upstairs, locks himself in the spare bedroom, and refuses to come out—for months. Smith uses this absurd bit of theater to explore some serious issues, privacy (reference is made to the U.K.’s carpet of CCTV cameras) and authenticity among them. But it’s the author’s effortlessly inventive form (narration comes from four different characters, none of whom knows Miles well), and her playful, breathlessly ebullient style that make this book a gem.
Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson (Knopf)
There’s never been a biography quite like this one. Hendrickson covers Papa’s rise and fall by focusing on his most steadfast companion: his boat, Pilar. She was the stage on which Hemingway fished, brawled, wrote his novels, ranted about his poor reviews, raised his sons, and seduced other men’s wives. The stories are rich with contradiction and humanity, and so raw and immediate you can smell the salt air.