Jeff VanderMeer’s Epic List of Favorite Books Read in 2015  December 18, 2015



Best Story Collection of the Year

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson (New Directions)

As I wrote for Slate earlier this year, “Finding the absurdity or oddness in reality is, in isolation, a good enough magician’s trick, one that has sustained entire literary careers. But the joy in discovering Lispector is that she fuses the trick to a simultaneous sense of the universal, often in the same sentence or paragraph. Her characters could never be anyone else, yet they are also all of us. Reading these stories, I had the same feeling I had when I first read the collected stories of Angela Carter and of Vladimir Nabokov: that something lives beyond the skin and in the skin, and you welcome the invasion, you begin to long for it every time you’re away from the book. You read slow, you read fast, you hold stories back and then devour them, you dread that moment when you’ve finished the last of them. Because the strangeness is familiar and yet different than you’ve ever encountered before. Because life seems more vital, almost hyperreal, after reading Lispector, and it is harder to ignore the hidden life surging all around you, in all its many forms.” Since then the collection has only grown more significant in my thoughts, in part for how Lispector fuses so uniquely the real and the surreal. The epic “Brasilia” has rewarded several re-readings, as have other stories in this soon-to-become iconic collection. Simply brilliant.


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