What was the best thing you read this year? Four of our Books Writers give their thoughts:

Morning and Evening, by Jon Fosse

Jon Fosse to tell the story of the Norwegian fisherman Johannes in only a hundred pages. To be exact, we only learn about the two most significant events in his life: his birth and his death. It is an obscure account of a highly unexciting life. Fosse throws all punctuation conventions over board and creates a world, in which dream and reality embrace each other and in which no clear border can be drawn between them. The fisherman dies and the reader is taken on a journey into a world between life and death, where Johannes spends the last day before departing into the world of the dead. It took me only two days to finish this book and I am still impressed by Fosse’s precise style of storytelling. Morning and Evening asks for a lot of attention from the reader, but rewards everybody who is willing to read it with an open mind with a unique and mesmerising story. - Clemens Jakubec

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

This year, The Underground Railroad won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award for Fiction and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. I had high hopes when I started reading this book, and it didn’t disappoint. The story follows Cora, a young slave attempting to escape from a plantation in Georgia, and her journey across America on the underground railroad. Historically, the underground railroad was a network of safe houses protecting runaway slaves, but in this novel its spirit manifests as a real-world railway, which Cora uses at various points in the novel to escape cruelty and journey towards a more hopeful future. The cruelty Cora experiences highlights the thread of hope running through the novel, making it even more poignant. I felt a great connection with Cora, with whom you will experience the depths of despair and realise how resilient a person’s spirit can be. - Katie Cook

Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout

I am ashamed to say that I got into the work of Elizabeth Strout far, far too late. This summer, travelling to the same coast, I bought a copy of her latest work, Anything is Possible. Dealing with similar themes to her other work – the intense claustrophobia and interconnectedness of small town life – I was completely blown away by the novel, which takes completely unexpected twists in the subtlest of ways. To call Anything in Possible a ‘novel’ is a misnomer: really it is a series of interconnected short stories, which build up to a collective whole. Taking place in Strout’s usual setting of Maine, Anything is Possible shows how the individual members of a society interact with one another, and how communities are created. Richly detailed, but in prose that is measured and precise, Strout may be the only writer who is able to come close to Alice Munro’s mastery of writing on domesticity. - Fred Fyles

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

From its very first line – “History has failed us, but no matter” – Pachinko is a poignant and thoughtful story of resilience. In 1911, Sunja, a young Korean girl with a humble background, must migrate to Japan to save her family from ruin. We learn of her struggles, and those of the three generations that follow her. Lee spent time in Japan speaking with people she met in markets, learning about the lives of people with Korean heritage, which clearly contributes to the sense of reality in the novel. Sunja isn’t very remarkable, but it’s the honest characteristics of ordinary people that make her attractive and interesting, as well as her subtle strength in the face of adversity. Even more modesty and truth is felt in novel the through the use of simple yet beautiful writing. No frills, just the struggles and emotions of people. Pachinko is a success with much critical acclaim and deserves to be subject of more conversation. - Alice Peberdy