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Bookshop's Best Fiction of 2016

Subjective as the term can be, here are the books Bookshop Santa Cruz has selected as the best Fiction published in the year 2016, presented as part of our Best Books of 2016 Lists. All books reviewed by Bookshop staff below!

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The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385542364
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Doubleday - August 2nd, 2016

When I say I’m in love with this book, I mean that Colson Whitehead has wrung more emotion from me than I had thought possible to give. Cora’s story is magnificent not only for her unique strength, but Whitehead weaves her into the whole of history, unfolding the power of shared experience. The journey is heart-breaking, inspiring and reveals what the human race is capable of, for good and for evil. —Jax


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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780670026197
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Viking - September 6th, 2016

In 1922, the young Count Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the attic of a grand hotel, and from there we witness three decades of Russian history and the interior lives of those who lived it. How the fullness of humanity can be contained, distilled and brought to exquisite life within a single hotel, within a single remarkable man, is both a feat and a joy to witness. —Melinda


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Homegoing: A novel Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781101947135
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Knopf - June 7th, 2016

Two sisters in Ghana are marked by tragedy; one is married off to an Englishman (and slave trader) and the other is sold to be enslaved in America. The storyline follows their descendants, generation by generation. It will break your heart over and over, impress you with the resilience of the human spirit and the amazing power of forgiveness, and leave you optimistic and in awe. —Nici


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Commonwealth Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062491794
Availability: Backordered
Published: Harper - September 13th, 2016

In Commonwealth, Ann Patchett conveys the deepest ties and challenges within a family with her trademark honesty, humor and emotional resonance. This is the novel that you will want to talk about with your best friends over and over again so that you can keep the characters in your heart for a little bit longer.   —Casey


Staff Pick Badge
Swing Time Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781594203985
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Penguin Press - November 15th, 2016

For my money, Zadie Smith is one of the best novelists working today. Smart, funny, and honest, she describes the world and its inhabitants with the eye of an anthropologist and the pen of an artist. In her new book, two mixed-race girls growing up in London both dream of becoming dancers and find, as time goes by, that only one of them has the necessary talent.  —Rico


Staff Pick Badge
News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062409201
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: William Morrow - October 4th, 2016

Jefferson Kidd is a Civil War veteran who carves out a living by reading the newspaper to people in isolated towns in Texas. Ten-year-old Johanna has been abandoned by her adoptive Kiowa parents and is left with no one to take care of her. When the townspeople pressure Kidd into taking Johanna home to long-lost relatives, the two subtly and relentlessly become as important to each other as father and daughter. A touching and slender masterpiece.  —Tera


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Mothering Sunday: A Romance Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781101947524
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Knopf - April 19th, 2016

In Mothering Sunday, Swift conjures a nostalgic landscape of youth, infatuation, and longing—calling forth our collective gut-twisting desire to know the unknown, to read our lovers’ minds, to forever remember the after-burn of lust and the freshness of warm spring afternoons. A swift, elegant dream of a novel that can and should be read in one sitting. —Julia


Staff Pick Badge
Barkskins Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780743288781
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - June 14th, 2016

At 700+ pages, Annie Proulx has quite possibly written her magnum opus, a commanding novel of North American history, its legacy of logging, struggle, and self-invention, the resulting deforestation and its ecological repercussions.  —Melinda


Staff Pick Badge
LaRose: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062277022
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Harper - May 10th, 2016

In Larose, Erdrich’s striking prose feels effortlessly powerful, direct and piercing; the agonies, hopes, and longings of her characters become the reader’s own, unadorned, unyielding in their realness. Relentlessly affecting from the first page.  —Julia


Staff Pick Badge
Another Brooklyn: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062359988
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Amistad - August 9th, 2016

Jacqueline Woodson’s portrait of four beloved best girlfriends in Brooklyn in the 1970s is silky with nostalgia, fluid with the words of the poet we know Woodson to be, and bittersweet in the way only a woman’s memory of her teenaged girlhood can be.   —Julia


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The Portable Veblen: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101981597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - November 1st, 2016

The writing is utterly original, with all kinds of fresh metaphors and turns of phrase, and the characters are both joyfully absurd and all too real—if you believe you have (or had) a troublesome mother, just wait until you meet Veblen’s mother, Melanie. A terrific book!   —Rico


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Mischling Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780316308106
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Lee Boudreaux Books - September 6th, 2016

Told from dueling perspectives of twin stisters who enter Josef Mengele’s infamous “Zoo,” this story isn’t a historical Holocaust narrative—instead, it is a literary, experiential kaleidoscope, using precocious young narrators to wrest meaning from that abyss. Horrible reality here gives way to poetic, lyrical prose which is affecting, powerful, and transcendent.  —Amber


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Moonglow: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062225559
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Harper - November 22nd, 2016

With clean prose and a candid tone, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon narrates the questionable deathbed confession of a character referred to only as “my grandfather.” Although the ratio of truth to fiction in this compelling tale may never be known, Moonglow is an engaging, existential adventure through the speculative past of an enigmatic figure.  —Aric


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Reputations Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781594633478
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - September 20th, 2016

This unexpectedly gripping novel displays Juan Vásquez at the height of his talent; a bitingly smart and sensitive meditation on self-reflexivity and persona. —Julia


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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781594634635
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Riverhead Books - March 8th, 2016

My favorite book in a year, this collection is for the postgender, the whimsical, the anti-establishment fiction lover who refuses to read the same thing twice. With deft skill and beautiful language, Oyememi pushes the boundaries of each story until they snap—and magical surrealism takes hold.    —Amber


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Tuesday Nights in 1980 Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501121043
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Gallery/Scout Press - April 5th, 2016

Revolving between intersecting stories of an artist, art critic and a muse in early 1980 New York City, the story asks whether we can truly follow our calling in life in the midst of the messy complexity of relationships and everyday living. Be prepared to be stunned that it is a debut novel – the prose feels so complete that you instantly know you’ve found an author on the cusp of going far and wide in the literary world.  —Casey


Staff Pick Badge
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl: Fiction Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143128489
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - February 23rd, 2016

Mona Awad’s debut novel rings loudly with many truths. I found myself tearing my eyes away from the page to contemplate the bound vignettes, ears burning uncomfortably with recognition. This is the type of book that could only have been written by a person with an immense and rich inner life.    —Louise


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Jane Steele Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780399169496
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - March 22nd, 2016

Whether you’re a fan of Jane Eyre, or just looking for a great, fun novel to sink your teeth into, this is the book you need to lose yourself in this year. Funny, intelligent, on-point—I loved getting to know Jane Steele, and hated having to leave her world.    —Jocelyn


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All the Birds in the Sky Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780765379948
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Tor Books - January 26th, 2016

This wonderful book paints an incredibly lush and wildly imaginative world, one I wanted to live in for much longer than the book lasted. At its heart, it is a tale of relationships: the ever married forces of nature and technology, past and future, and, most importantly, the relationship between two people marked by the past as they attempt to save the future. —Ivy


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The Fireman: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062200631
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: William Morrow - May 17th, 2016

Joe Hill writes books I savor. He’s a born storyteller—as might be expected of the son of Stephen King—and The Fireman is his most ambitious novel to date. The Fireman is tightly wound, thoughtfully crafted, and born of the fantastical. It’s beautiful and horrifying, a true pleasure to read.   —Dillon


Staff Pick Badge
You Will Know Me: A Novel Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780316231077
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - July 26th, 2016

I think this is Abbot's best work to date. I loved it. As always, her dark look at teen girls and their families and friends, this time set in the driven world of competitive gymnastics, is fascinating. Her sparse, stripped down writing style reveals just enough as the mother of a gymnastics protégée tries to find the truth behind a hit and run. I didn't want to stop reading it. I'll be recommending this one for a long time.  —F.F.


Staff Pick Badge
Lucy and Linh Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399550485
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - September 6th, 2016

Funny, sarcastic, and real, Lucy is a heroine who is just trying to make it out of adolescence with her self-respect intact. This gem from an Asian-Australian writer penetrates deeply into how we try to leave our old selves behind for something shiny and new—and how that never works out. A standout like Eleanor & Park and I’ll Give You the Sun, this is by far my favorite young adult book of the year. —Tera


Staff Pick Badge
American Housewife Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781101970997
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - October 18th, 2016

American Housewife:  This darkly incisive, laugh-out-knock-down-drag-out feminist masterpiece of a fiction collection is THE bright spark of relief you need, shining like a beacon through the bleak landscape that has been 2016 for women. Don’t just read it. Read each brilliant, distinctive story out loud to the closest women in your life, over a glass of red wine while wearing your “I Voted” sticker. - Amber


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