Words: Ali Iannattone
As 2021 comes to a close, it is noticeable how art has served not only as an outlet for the artists themselves during these difficult times, but also as a means of escape for consumers. During lockdown 2020 book sales skyrocketed and many rediscovered an appreciation for literature. In honour of this happening here are LDN’s five books of 2021.
#1 Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Told from the perspective of Klara, an artificial friend (or AF) who starts the book at a department store waiting for a human to adopt her, ‘Klara And The Sun’ sees the dystopian America that Klara lives in, where human contact is minimal and life is precarious. As with all of his novels, in this book, Ishiguro uses allegories to portray deeper themes from everyday life into a futuristic and unsettling reality.
#2 Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Peters’ story follows three characters; Reese, a transgender woman who at the start of the novel breaks up with her partner Ames (previously Amy) as he decides to detransition and Ames’ boss Katrina, as she remains pregnant with Ames’ baby. The beauty of this novel comes from the nuanced way in which Peters explores the relationships between the characters just as much as the individual identity of each one.
#3 Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zeuner talks about who she is and what’s next for her in her memoir ‘Crying In H Mart’. The debut details growing up mixed-race in America and how complex her relationship with her heritage became once she lost multiple Korean family members, including her mother Chongmi. Zauner focuses a large part of her memoir on food, hence the title, and on its importance not only as part of her cultural identity, but also of her bond with her mother.
#4 The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Though it might not seem it upon reading, but Dawnie Walton’s ‘The Final Revival Of Opal And Nev’ is a work of fiction about an interracial musical duo’s reunion in the present after their struggle to fame in the 70s. Its odd documentary-style format lets the reader experience the story from different characters’ points of view of each situation, and cleverly offers more insight into the complex minds of each one of the book’s main story-tellers.
#5 Beautiful World, Where Are you by Sally Rooney
Rooney’s latest work ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You?’ is about friendships and relationships in the times of climate disaster. With its classic clean and direct Rooney prose, the story follows two college best friends Alice and Eileen and it unfolds throughout the long emails they send each other narrating their complicated love lives and – often cynical and pessimistic – ideas about the world.