Image: Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr
2017 has been a rollercoaster of a year in many respects but the book world has been riding on a high with incredible releases which have reflected the political scene, with the return of much loved authors and characters, and genre-breaking award winners and bestsellers. It's a tough decision to make but here are the top ten best fiction books of the last 12 months.
Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie
Shamsie's powerful retelling of the classical story of Antigone illustrates the tragedy of modern Britain for Muslims, and in particular Muslim women. She captures the nuance of gender identity and religious beliefs, alongside universal experiences such as ambition, belonging and family. Shortlisted for the Man Booker - this retelling stands as a modern tale in its own right.
The Power - Naomi Alderman
Winner of the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction - this electric tale turns the world upside down to show us what it would be like like if women had the power. In doing so, it tells us a lot more about the world we currently live in, and is a shocking exposé of the injustices that we currently live with.
Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
A compact and concise account of the lives of refugees - facilitated by the magical realism of doorways becoming portals. This is a beautiful illustration of the human longing and fight for love, survival and belonging.
Sing Unburied Sing - Jesmyn Ward
A poignant and heart wrenching tale of one poverty stricken family's struggle for survival in rural America. Struck by racism, drugs, and sheer poverty, this family is living what has been described as the 'American Nightmare'.
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
National Book Award Winner The Underground Railroad uses a wonderful magical realism / elements of science fiction, to bring to life the metaphorical railroad on which many traveled to freedom. However it works more as a time traveling device through the various eras of injustice and legacy of slavery in the US.
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
A book which has already won many accolades in just a few months, Little Fires Everywhere seems to have captured truths on issues from society and race to motherhood and love, longing and perfection. It would seem that if any novel is going to be make waves in early 2018 this may well be it.
Winter - Ali Smith
Ali Smith's Seasonal sequel certainly lives up to its predecessor with just as much intelligence and wit, not to mention acute political observations. While we are faced with a new set of characters, the power of the story telling and literary illusion is just the same as before.
La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman
Pullman returns us to Lyra's Oxford in a delightful new installment which has been long awaited by fans. Join Malcom Polestead in a biblical adventure featuring some of the characters we know and love from His Dark Materials.
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
An award-winning Young Adult book which deals with police violence, racism and politics. It has been celebrated for dealing with difficult and controversial issues and for powerfully evoking the injustices of society.
Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders
The Man Booker winning novel has been often cited as breaking the mould of fiction writing and has been lauded for its imagination in dealing with the fundamental questions of life and death - all centred around the grief of perhaps the most famous US president in history.