Best and worst 2015: Books

BEST

• A Reunion Of Ghosts By Judith Claire Mitchell / Fourth Estate/ Paperback/ 388 pages/$28.89/ Major bookstores

A Reunion Of Ghosts is a woman's history of the 20th century, a novel about scientific advancement, sexual inequality and the suicidal impulse of humanity to move from disaster to disaster in the name of progress. Yet it is more comedy than tragedy, despite being told from the point of view of three sisters ready to kill themselves on the last day of 1999.


The Way Things Were By Aatish Taseer / Picador/ Paperback/ 572 pages/$33.10/Books Kinokuniya

This read is a riveting family saga, a page-turning drama and a haunting primer on India today.

The rise and decline of a royal family mirrors the evolution of the subcontinent from a place associated with spirituality and the Kama Sutra to its current hard- headed, business-minded avatar.


• A Little Life By Hanya Yanagihara/ Doubleday/ Hardcover/ 720 pages/$32.95/ Major bookstores

It is impossible to come away unscathed from this novel about four friends who go from their luminous 20s to life-scarred 50somethings in New York.

A Little Life is a paean to the importance friendship plays in a society where many choose not to form traditional family structures, but rely on friends for emotional and literal support.

The novel is also a heart-breaking exploration of the consequences of child abuse. It was shortlisted for and tipped as the favourite to win the Man Booker Prize this year, but lost to Marlon James' Jamaican thriller, A Brief History Of Seven Killings.


WORST

• Grey By E.L. James/Arrow Books/ Paperback/576 pages/$17.95/ Major bookstores

One would have to be very naive to consider Christian Grey's obsession with controlling the life and times of Anastasia Steele romantic, yet E.L. James' Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy about their relationship suckered millions of readers into doing just that.

Her latest money-spinner, a retelling of the first book from the point of view of the male protagonist, should open some eyes: Grey reads chillingly like a sociopath's primer on stalking .

The only good thing about Grey and the earlier trilogy is their length, making them perfect weapons to throw at anyone who might consider copying Grey's style of wooing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 27, 2015, with the headline 'Books'. Print Edition | Subscribe