1. COLUM MCCANN - APEIROGON
Astounding novel that links biography with fiction. A book about the fracture within our entire humanity and how that causes localised conflict and that in turn leading to very personal heartache and grief. In the midst of all of that Apeirogon is a book about hope and forgiveness and the challenge as to how to deal with the fracture.
2. JEANINE CUMMINS - AMERICAN DIRT
Any other year and this is an easy #1. An utterly gripping, insightful and spiritual rollercoaster ride from a comfortable life to escaping across Mexico, borders and deserts. Expect nerves to be frayed, hearts to be tugged and stereotypes to be knocked.
3. DAVID MITCHELL - UTOPIA AVENUE
Rock band climbing the late 60's musical ladder, with wonderful characters, meetings with the famous and eccentric quirks too. Let me hear the songs!!
4. DAVID PARK - RUN IN THE PARK
A wee short book that is typically Park. He has a way with characters and their ordinary interactions that opens up the soul. The phenomenon of the park run is a perfect plot space. There's always some music and it is Bruce Springsteen this time.
5. GLENN PATTERSON - WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Belfast's Novelist In Residence Patterson has his novel way of opening up where Belfast is as a society and he does it again here in a humorous tale of Herbie whose lost job, wife and mostly daughter and is those seeking who he is now rather than back somewhere else.