With dozens of book releases dropping each week and a crowded field of new authors clamoring for recognition, it can be easy to overlook some of 2017’s best novels. The year was packed with incredible reads that transported us to worlds we never knew, so Savoir Flair is glancing backwards at the ten absolute best books of the year in this round-up – and they all happen to be by female authors, which was entirely a (wonderful) coincidence.
Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere begins at the end, as the wealthy suburban Richardson family – minus daughter Izzy, who is the black sheep of the family – watches as their house burns to the ground. Immediately, they suspect Izzy as the arsonist. From there, the novel leaps back in time, introducing us to the Richardson’s tenants, a vagabond artist named Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl.
Not only does the novel reveal the intense disparity between the comfortably wealthy and the starving artist, but it also pulls at the very threads that create the complicated tapestry of motherhood. Every time you think you have the plot figured out, it twists and twists again, folding back in on itself several times before a surprising conclusion.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
AED45 / SAR46
by Lily Tuck
The title of Sisters is slightly misleading as this book is about wives, one jealous wife in particular. With cool and economical prose, author Lily Tuck outlines the obsession of a second wife who cannot stop creating an image of how the first wife lived and loved. While this set-up would tend to indicate an eventual clash between the two women, the climax comes as a huge surprise, which is why this captivating novel won the National Book Award in 2017.
Sisters by Lily Tuck
AED44 / SAR45
by Rachel Khong
Although Alzheimer’s is a serious disease that afflicts a huge portion of the elderly population worldwide, author Rachel Khong tackles the subject with surprising lightheartedness in her debut novel. Goodbye, Vitamin follows one year of a young woman’s life as she returns home to help care for her father who is suffering from dementia – just as her own life is falling apart due to a failed marriage. Khong’s intimate prose places you in the story like you’re living the protagonist’s life, which can cause both uncomfortable and beautiful moments to occur.
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
AED59 / SAR60
by Naomi Alderman
If the privilege granted to men relies on male strength, what happens when women suddenly have more physical power than men? This is the central question of Naomi Alderman’s absolutely riveting book The Power, which creates a world in which women are suddenly seized by a widespread occurrence of “electrostatic power”. In it, young women wake up having grown special muscles that jut out of their collarbones and can deliver mild to deadly amounts of electric shocks.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
AED88 / SAR89
by Roxane Gay
This incredible collection of short stories celebrates unconventional women everywhere. Author Roxane Gay is a formidable intellectual powerhouse who laces her stories with subtle lessons on intersectional feminism. Difficult Women, in particular, is separated into stories that are all too familiar – a woman dealing with being sexually harassed by her superior, another confronting an abusive husband. Some of her prose is dark and unsettling, but it has be in order to peel back the frail psychological layers that her protagonists exist beneath.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
AED55 / SAR56
The Sun and Her Flowers
by Rupi Kaur
Rupi Kaur has nearly two million followers on Instagram, but she’s not an influencer or a bikini model or any other kind of social-media celebrity – she’s a poet, and an astonishingly gifted one at that. Her poetry deals with romance, longing, ancestry, the strength of women, and other subjects close to the heart. Kaur’s immense following came by way of her debut book Milk and Honey, which means her follow-up release The Sun and Her Flowers was as hotly anticipated as it gets.
the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
AED38 / SAR39
The Ninth Hour
by Alice McDermott
Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Alice McDermott wowed us once again with her dazzling prose in The Ninth Hour. This subtle, beautifully written novel focuses on Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, a benevolent congregation of nuns who care for Brooklyn’s poor and helpless. Don’t let the fact that the book is about nuns deter you – this one is anything but as it is fraught with drama, reconciliation, heartbreak, and death while grappling with some of life’s biggest unanswered questions.
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
AED55 / SAR56
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
by Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy is untouchable, with her singular prose incapable of imitation. Yet, it has been 20 years since her debut novel The God of Small Things captured global interest and landed her the coveted Booker Prize. So, it was with some fanfare that her sophomore novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness emerged two decades later.
The novel takes readers on a journey across the Indian subcontinent during one of India’s most tumultuous political times. Delhi is the main backdrop to the story, which unfolds through a dual narrative told by Aftab and Tilo, who serve to metaphorically braid together the intersection of art and activism.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
AED73 / SAR75
by Jenny Zhang
Sour Heart, the astonishing debut novel by Jenny Zhang, is the first publishing imprint by Lena Dunham’s LENNY. The prismatic short stories are told by separate but intertwining characters from a fictional intersection of Chinese-American girls who are struggling to find their place in the world. It is so candidly written, so intimately revealing, and so capable of shifting between perspectives that the immersion into their lives felt while reading it is stunning.
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
AED66 / SAR67
Conversations With Friends
by Sally Rooney
Conversations with Friends is the debut novel by 26-year-old Dublin native Sally Rooney, and centers around two brilliant, talented teenage girls who fiercely debate politics while most of their peers obsess over boys. Friction comes between the two when they are sought out by a sophisticated photographer named Melissa and her husband. The relationship gets more and more complicated as egos tangle.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
AED62 / SAR63