Here are Laura Valeri's picks of the best novels this year (stay tuned for a post on story collections):
A quirky tale of a family of performing artists, each of them having managed to blur the boundaries of what is appropriate and what is necessary in the name of art. The story will make you laugh, balk, ponder, meditate, and even maybe weep a little. If only for the fantastical performances that the Fang family manages to contrive, the book should get an award.
Faith: by Jennifer Haigh
The story of a woman who tries to trace back the choices and mistakes that led to her brother's suicide. On the surface, the novel appears to be about the abuses of the Catholic church and its coverups of sexual molestation cases, but as the story deepens, the reader is treated to a delicate, heartbreaking story about love, self-sacrifice, and most of all, faith. One of the most profound and uplifting books I've read all year!
Animal Sanctuary; by Sarah Falkner
Check out the extensive review I wrote for this one on Fiction Writers' Review. Sarah Falkner's debut is a journey into the aesthetic complexities of film and performance art. The novel is written as a braided narrative, combining article clippings, film synopses, audio transcripts and other less-conventional mediums. You'll feel like you've just gotten a crash education in art criticism when you're done reading.