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The 10 Best Books of 2016

The year’s best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.





《小炸弹联盟》(The Association of Small Bombs)

By Karan Mahajan

卡兰·马哈詹(Karan Mahajan)著

Viking. $26.


A finalist for the National Book Award, Mahajan’s novel — smart, devastating and unpredictable — opens with a Kashmirian terrorist attack in a Delhi market, then follows the lives of those affected. This includes Deepa and Vikas Khurana, whose young sons were killed, and the boys’ injured friend Mansoor, who grows up to flirt with a form of political terrorism himself. As the narrative suggests, nothing recovers from a bomb: not our humanity, not our politics, not even our faith.

马哈詹的这部机智、非凡、出人意料的小说入围了国家图书奖(National Book Award)。小说开篇描写了德里一处市场发生了一起由克什米尔人制造的恐怖袭击,接着记述了受这场袭击影响的人的生活。其中包括在袭击中失去年幼的儿子的迪帕和维卡斯·库拉纳(Deepa and Vikas Khurana)夫妇,以及儿子的朋友、在袭击中受伤的曼苏尔(Mansoor)。后来,曼苏尔自己慢慢有了一种政治恐怖主义的想法。正如故事所表明的那样,炸弹袭击过后,一切都回不来了:我们的人性、政治乃至信仰。

The North Water

《北方海域》(The North Water)

By Ian McGuire

伊恩·麦圭尔(Ian McGuire)著

Henry Holt & Company. $27.

亨利·霍尔特出版公司(Henry Holt & Company),27美元。

Propelled by a vision that is savage, brutal and relentless, McGuire relates the tale of an opium-addicted 19th-century Irish surgeon who encounters a vicious psychopath on board an Arctic-bound whaling ship. With grim, jagged lyricism, McGuire describes violence with unsparing color and even relish while suggesting a path forward for historical fiction. Picture a meeting between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition.

在一种野蛮、残酷、无情的意象推动下,麦圭尔讲述了19世纪一名有鸦片瘾的爱尔兰外科医生的故事。在一艘驶向北极的捕鲸船上,这名医生偶遇了一个恶性精神病态者。麦圭尔用冷峻而错落的抒情风格描绘了色彩丰富甚至有饶有趣味的暴力,同时又暗示了一条通往历史小说的道路。想象约瑟夫·康拉德(Joseph Conrad)和科马克·麦卡锡(Cormac McCarthy)在某个破败的港口相遇,并不友善地向对方慢慢点头致意的情景。


《地下铁路》(The Underground Railroad)

By Colson Whitehead

科尔森·怀特黑德(Colson Whitehead)著

Doubleday. $26.95.


With a conceit as simple as it is bold, Whitehead’s brave, necessary novel imagines a slave fleeing north on a literal underground railroad — complete with locomotives, boxcars and conductors. By small shifts in perspective, the novel (winner of the National Book Award in fiction) ventures to new places in the narrative of slavery, or rather to places where it actually has something new to say: about America’s foundational sins, and the ways black history is too often stolen by white narrators.


The Vegetarian

《素食者》(The Vegetarian)

By Han Kang

韩江(Han Kang)著

Translated by Deborah Smith

黛博拉·史密斯(Deborah Smith)译

Hogarth. $21.


In Han’s unsettling novel, a seemingly ordinary housewife — described by her husband as “completely unremarkable in every way” — becomes a vegetarian after a terrifying dream. Han’s treatments of submission and subversion find form in the parable, as the housewife’s self-abnegation turns increasingly severe and surreal. This spare and elegant translation renders the original Korean in pointed and vivid English, preserving Han’s penetrating exploration of whether true innocence is possible in a vicious and bloody world.



《战争与松脂》(War And Turpentine)

By Stefan Hertmans

斯特凡·赫特曼斯(Stefan Hertmans)著

Translated by David McKay

戴维·麦凯(David McKay)译

Pantheon Books. $26.95.

众神图书(Pantheon Books),26.95美元。

Inspired by the notebooks and reminiscences of his grandfather, a painter who served in the Belgian Army in World War I, Hertmans writes with an eloquence reminiscent of W.G. Sebald as he explores the places where narrative authority, invention and speculation flow together. Weaving his grandfather’s stories into accounts of his own visits to sites that shaped the old man’s development as a husband and father as well as an artist, Hertmans has produced a masterly book about memory, art, love and war.

作者赫特曼斯的祖父是一名画家,一战期间曾在比利时陆军中服役。受祖父的笔记本和往事的鼓舞,赫特曼斯对权威叙事、虚构和猜测相结合进行了探索,行文生动流畅,让人想起了W.G.塞巴尔德(W.G. Sebald)。赫特曼斯走访了影响他祖父作为一个丈夫、父亲和艺术家的发展的地方,并将老人的故事穿插在对这些走访的描述中。这是一部关于回忆、艺术、爱和战争的巨作。



AT THE EXISTENTIALIST CAFÉ: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

《在存在主义咖啡馆里:自由、存在与杏子鸡尾酒》(At The Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails)

By Sarah Bakewell

萨拉·贝克维尔(Sarah Bakewell)著

Other Press. $25.

他者出版社(Other Press),25美元。

The author of the Montaigne biography “How to Live” has written another impressively lucid book, one that offers a joint portrait of the giants of existentialism and phenomenology: Sartre, Beauvoir, Camus, Jaspers, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger and a half-dozen other European writers and philosophers. Around the early 1930s, the story divides between the characters who eventually come out more or less right, like Beauvoir, and the ones who come out wrong, like Heidegger. Some of Bakewell’s most exciting pages present engaged accounts of complex philosophies, even ones that finally repel her. And the biographical nuggets are irresistible; we learn, for example, that for months after trying mescaline, Sartre thought he was being followed by “lobster-like beings.”

蒙田的传记《如何生活》(How to Live)的作者又创作出了一部极其简明易懂的作品。本书如同一幅肖像画,存在主义和现象学泰斗齐齐现身:萨特、波伏娃、加缪、雅斯佩斯、梅洛-庞蒂、海德格尔和其他多位欧洲作家及哲学家。30年代初期前后,故事被分成了两个阵营,波伏娃等最终证明或多或少正确的人,以及海德格尔等证明错了的人。在最令人兴奋的一些章节中,贝克维尔热情投入地记述了一些复杂的哲学思想,甚至是那些最后让她感到反感的思想。此外,传记性的事实极具吸引力。比如,我们从本书中得知,在试用了墨斯卡灵后的数月里,萨特认为有“像龙虾一样的生物”在跟踪他。 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

DARK MONEY: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

《暗钱:激进右翼崛起背后的亿万富翁隐秘史》(Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right)

By Jane Mayer

简·梅耶尔(Jane Mayer)著

Doubleday. $29.95.


In 1980 Charles and David Koch decided they would spend vast amounts of their fortune to elect conservatives to all levels of government, and the world of American politics has never been the same. Mayer spent five years looking into the Koch brothers’ activities, and the result is this thoroughly investigated, well-documented book. It cannot have been easy to uncover the workings of so secretive an operation, but Mayer has come as close to doing it as anyone is likely to anytime soon.

1980年,查尔斯和戴维·科克(Charles and David Koch)兄弟决定把自己的大量财富用来帮助保守派当选,进入各级政府。现在的美国政界大不一样了。梅耶尔用了五年时间研究科克兄弟的活动,这部调查充分、记录完整的著作,便是研究结果。行动非常隐秘,要发现它的运作绝非易事,但梅耶尔的成果在今后相当长一段时间里很难被超越。

EVICTED: Poverty and Profit in the American City

《被驱逐者:美国城市中的贫穷与利益》(Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City)

By Matthew Desmond

马修·德斯蒙德(Matthew Desmond)著

Crown Publishers. $28.

皇冠出版(Crown Publishers),28美元。

In May 2008, Desmond moved into a Milwaukee trailer park and then to a rooming house on the poverty-stricken North Side. A graduate student in sociology at the time, he diligently took notes on the lives of people on the brink of eviction: those who pay 70 to 80 percent of their incomes in rent, often for homes that are, objectively speaking, unfit for human habitation. Desmond’s empathetic and scrupulously researched book reintroduces the concept of “exploitation” into the poverty debate, showing how eviction, like incarceration, can brand a person for life.



《在暗室中》(In The Darkroom)

By Susan Faludi

苏珊·福卢迪(Susan Faludi)著

Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $32.

大都会图书(Metropolitan Books)/亨利·霍尔特出版公司,32美元。

When Faludi learned that her estranged and elderly father had undergone gender reassignment surgery, in 2004, it marked the resumption of a difficult relationship. Her father was violent and full of contradictions: a Hungarian Holocaust survivor and Leni Riefenstahl fanatic, he stabbed a man her mother was seeing and used the incident to avoid paying alimony. In this rich, arresting and ultimately generous memoir, Faludi — long known for her feminist journalism — tries to reconcile Steven, the overbearing patriarch her father once was, with Stefánie, the old woman she became.

2004年,当福卢迪得知与自己关系疏远的老父亲做过变性手术时,一段紧张的关系开始恢复。她的父亲举止暴力并且充满矛盾:身为匈牙利大屠杀的幸存者却痴迷莱尼·李芬斯塔尔(Leni Riefenstahl),还用刀刺伤她母亲正在交往的一名男子,并以此事为由拒绝支付赡养费。在这本丰富、抢眼,最终体现出宽容的回忆录中,长期以女权主义新闻报道声名远扬的福卢迪试图让史蒂文(Steven)和斯蒂芬妮(Stefánie)和解。前者是作为曾经的专横家长的父亲,后者则是老去后的作者自己。

THE RETURN: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between

《归去:父亲、儿子和他们的土地》(The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between)

By Hisham Matar

希沙姆·马塔尔(Hisham Matar)著

Random House. $26.

兰登书屋(Random House),26美元。

Matar’s father, Jaballa Matar — a prominent critic of Muammar el-Qaddafi’s dictatorship — was abducted in exile, in 1990, and turned over to the Libyan regime. Whether Jaballa was among those killed in a prison massacre six years later is impossible to know; he simply disappeared. Hisham Matar returned to Libya in the spring of 2012, in the brief honeymoon after Qaddafi had been overthrown and before the current civil war, and his extraordinary memoir of that time is so much more besides: a reflection on the consolations of art, an analysis of authoritarianism, and an impassioned work of mourning.

马塔尔的父亲贾巴拉·马塔尔(Jaballa Matar)是穆阿迈尔·卡扎菲上校(Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi)领导的独裁政府的著名批评者。1990年,流亡在外的他遭遇绑架,并被移交给利比亚政府。贾巴拉是否在六年后的一起监狱大屠杀中遇难无从得知,他完全消失了。2012年春天,希沙姆·马塔尔回到利比亚,度过了一个短暂的蜜月。那时,卡扎菲已被推翻,当前这场内战尚未爆发。这部非凡的回忆录是对那个时期的再现,同时又远不仅限于此,它还有着对艺术带来的慰藉的深思、对威权主义的分析和慷慨激昂的哀悼。



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