Best Novel: “Grendel”. Gardner’s seminal work is beautiful and semantically dense.
Honorable mention: ”Infinite Jest”
Best Short Story collection: “Jesus’ Son”. Denis Johnson’s best work, in my opinion.
Honorable mention: Thom Jones’ “Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine” and “Cold Snap”
Best work in translation: “Laughable Loves”. Kundera’s only collection of stories, wonderfully executed and terribly memorable.
Honorable mention: Thich Nhat Hahn’s “Peace is Every Step”
Best Collection of Poetry: “Ultramarine”. Carver’s thematically linked poems are the most potent narratives, per word, I have ever encountered.
Honorable mention: David Rivard’s “Otherwise, Elsewhere”
Best memoir/creative nonfiction: ”The Year of Magical Thinking”. Easily the best memoir I have ever read.
Honorable mention: Tobias Wolff’s “This Boy’s Life”.
Best general nonfiction: Oliver Sack’s “On the Move”. We lost Dr. Sacks this year, but the man lived a remarkable life and wrote about it with an amazing combination of nuance and simplicity.
Honorable mention: Hitchens’ “Mortality” (I began to notice a theme…).
Best Contemporary (5 years): “Thrown”. Kerry Howley writes about MMA and uses the subject to get at some interesting ideas that have nothing to do with MMA, while also writing a really good book about dudes beating the ever-living shit out of each other.
Honorable mention(s): “The Festival of Insignificance,” “Billy Lynn’s Long Half-time Walk,” “Tinkers”
Best graphic work: “Asterios Polyp”. An amazing narrative of ideas, presented in a novel way that demands attention. Worth multiple re-reads.
Honorable mention: “Fun Home”.