Best Fiction-Poetry of 2016

Notable Books from the New York Times

ALL THAT MAN IS. By David Szalay. (Graywolf, $26.) Szalay writes with voluptuous authority about masculinity under duress in this novel in stories.

ANOTHER BROOKLYN. By Jacqueline Woodson. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $22.99.) Girlhood and the half-life of its memory are the subjects of this intense, moving novel, Woodson’s first for adults (she is a Newbery Honor winner) in years.

THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBSBy Karan Mahajan. (Viking, $26.) Mahajan’s smart, devastating novel traces the fallout over time of a terrorist attack at a market in Delhi.

BARKSKINS. By Annie Proulx. (Scribner, $32.) Tracing two families and their part in the destruction of the world’s forests, Proulx’s latest novel is a tale of long-term, shortsighted greed.

BEFORE THE FALL. By Noah Hawley. (Grand Central, $26.) A private-jet crash leads to a media firestorm in Hawley’s readable thrill ride of a novel.

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS. By Imbolo Mbue. (Random House, $28.) In Mbue’s bighearted debut, set against the backdrop of the American financial crisis, a Cameroonian family makes a new life in Harlem.

BLACK WATER. By Louise Doughty. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Expecting to be assassinated, the hero of this excellent novel grapples with guilt over his actions in Indonesia.

CHILDREN OF THE NEW WORLD. By Alexander Weinstein. (Picador, paper, $16.) The terror that technology may rob us of authentic experience — that it may annihilate our very sense of self — is central to this debut collection of short stories.

COLLECTED POEMS 1950-2012. By Adrienne Rich. (Norton, $50.)Work from seven decades displays Rich’s evolution from careful neo-classicism to free verse, and her embrace of lesbian feminism and radical politics.

COMMONWEALTH. By Ann Patchett. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) An engaging family portrait, tracing the lives of six stepsiblings over half a century.

DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING. By Madeleine Thien. (Norton, $26.95.) A Chinese-Canadian professor probes the mystery of her father’s life amid upheavals in China in this ambitious novel.

DON’T LET MY BABY DO RODEO. By Boris Fishman. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) A family from the former Soviet Union embarks on an American road trip in a novel that is a joy to read.

END OF WATCH. By Stephen King. (Scribner, $30.) The gloriously fitting final installment of King’s trilogy featuring the retired police detective Bill Hodges is a big genre-busting romp.

EVERYBODY’S FOOL. By Richard Russo. (Knopf, $27.95.) This sequel to “Nobody’s Fool,” set 10 years later in the same upstate New York town, presents engaging characters and benign humor.

THE FORTUNES. By Peter Ho Davies. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27.) This novel, a meditation on 150 years of the Chinese-American experience, asks what it means to be a Chinese-American.

A GAMBLER’S ANATOMY. By Jonathan Lethem. (Doubleday, $27.95.)A backgammon hustler with telepathic powers returns to Berkeley, Calif., for surgery in Lethem’s inventive 10th novel, the theme of which is remaining open to possibilities.

THE GLOAMING. By Melanie Finn. (Two Dollar Radio, paper, $16.99.)A woman tries to remake her life in Africa in Finn’s intricately plotted novel.

GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS. By Max Porter. (Graywolf, paper, $14.) A father and his sons struggle with a death in this luminous novel.

HERE COMES THE SUN. By Nicole Dennis-Benn. (Liveright, $26.95.)Dennis-Benn’s tale of life in the impoverished neighborhoods of Montego Bay, Jamaica, sheds light on the island’s disenfranchised.

HERE I AM. By Jonathan Safran Foer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.)Private and public crises converge for four generations of a Jewish family in this ambitious, often brilliant novel, Foer’s third.

HOMEGOING. By Yaa Gyasi. (Knopf, $26.95.) This wonderful debut by a Ghanaian-American novelist follows the shifting fortunes of the progeny of two half sisters, unknown to each other, in West Africa and America. Gyasi was one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honorees in 2016.

HOT MILK. By Deborah Levy. (Bloomsbury, $26.) In Levy’s evocative novel, dense with symbolism, a woman struggles against her hypochondriacal mother to achieve her own identity.

HOUSE OF LORDS AND COMMONS. By Ishion Hutchinson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) Exuberant work from a young Jamaican-born poet who looks to the island’s teeming life and fractured past.

I MUST BE LIVING TWICE: New and Selected Poems, 1975-2014. By Eileen Myles. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $29.99.) Charming and confounding poems from a provocative voice.

IZA’S BALLAD. By Magda Szabo. Translated by George Szirtes. (New York Review, paper, $16.95.) A meditative Hungarian novel about grief and history by the author of “The Door.”

LAROSE. By Louise Erdrich. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) A man who accidentally killed his best friend’s son gives the man his own child in this powerful story about justice and forgiveness, set in and near a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation.

THE LIFE-WRITER. By David Constantine. (Biblioasis, paper, $14.95.)A widow immerses herself in the letters her late husband received from an earlier lover in Constantine’s lyrical novel.

THE LITTLE RED CHAIRS. By Edna O’Brien. (Little, Brown, $27.) In her harrowing, boldly imagined novel, O’Brien both explores Irish provincial life and offers an unsettling fabulist vision.

LOOK: Poems. By Solmaz Sharif. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) Sharif’s skillful debut collection draws on a Defense Department lexicon of military terms.

THE MIRROR THIEF. By Martin Seay. (Melville House, $27.95.)Linked narratives and various Venices reflect one another in this clever first novel.

MISCHLING. By Affinity Konar. (Lee Boudreaux/Little, Brown, $27.)Konar uses the unsettling and grievous history of Dr. Josef Mengele’s experiments on children, particularly twins, to riveting effect in her debut novel.

MISTER MONKEY. By Francine Prose. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) The dreadful revival of a musical based on a children’s novel about an orphaned chimp is observed through various points of view in this fresh, Chekhovian novel.

MOONGLOW. By Michael Chabon. (Harper/HarperCollins, $28.99.) In this beautifully written hybrid, a San Francisco writer named Mike presents a memoir about his grandparents, a World War II soldier and a Holocaust survivor.

THE MORTIFICATIONS. By Derek Palacio. (Tim Duggan, $27.) This sweeping debut novel limns the exile and return of a Cuban-American family.

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON. By Elizabeth Strout. (Random House, $26.) A writer and her estranged mother attempt to reconnect during a brief visit in a Pulitzer Prize winner’s exquisite novel of careful words and vibrating silences.

NINETY-NINE STORIES OF GOD. By Joy Williams. (Tin House, $19.95.) This collection of micro-fictions is a treasure trove of tiny wry masterpieces.

THE NIX. By Nathan Hill. (Knopf, $27.95.) In this entertaining debut novel, full of postmodern digressions, a young professor tries to write a biography of his political activist mother.

THE NORTH WATER. By Ian McGuire. (Holt, $27.) In McGuire’s darkly brilliant novel, the crew of a doomed whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle must reckon with fierce weather, pure evil, and the shadows of Melville and Conrad.

NUTSHELL. By Ian McEwan. (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $24.95.) An unborn baby overhears his mother and her lover plotting to murder his father in McEwan’s compact, captivating novel.

REPUTATIONS. By Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Translated by Anne McLean. (Riverhead, $25.) A slender but impactful Colombian novel about a political cartoonist who re-examines his accusations against a politician.

THE SPORT OF KINGS. By C. E. Morgan. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Three Kentucky dynasties — black, white and equine — converge in this vitally written if melodramatic novel.

STILL HERE. By Lara Vapnyar. (Hogarth, $26.) In this razor-funny novel, four Russian friends try to make their way in New York.

SWING TIME. By Zadie Smith. (Penguin Press, $27.) Two multiracial girls in North London dream of becoming dancers (one has talent, the other doesn’t) in Smith’s exuberant new novel about friendship, music, race and global politics.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT. By Maria Semple. (Little, Brown, $27.)In this brainy, seriously funny novel by the author of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” a Seattle woman confronts private school parents, a husband’s secret life and more.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. By Colson Whitehead. (Doubleday, $26.95.) Whitehead’s well-built, stunningly daring novel turns the historical freedom network from metaphor to reality, complete with tracks, locomotives and platforms. The winner of this year’s National Book Award for fiction.

VALIANT GENTLEMEN. By Sabina Murray. (Grove, $27.) An audacious historical novel about the Irish revolutionary martyr Roger Casement.

THE VEGETARIAN. By Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith. (Hogarth, $21.) This novella in three parts is both thriller and parable. The winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

WAR AND TURPENTINE. By Stefan Hertmans. Translated by David McKay. (Pantheon, $26.95.) A masterly novel about memory, art, love and war, based on the author’s grandfather’s notebooks.

WEATHERING. By Lucy Wood. (Bloomsbury, $26.) This poetic debut novel, set in a damp house near a roaring river, explores the relationship between mothers and daughters.

ZERO K. By Don DeLillo. (Scribner, $27.) In the post-postcolonial future of DeLillo’s moving, mysterious 16th novel, a man joins his billionaire father at a desert compound where people can be preserved forever.