Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
In 10 words: Five characters bring their dreams for the future to Shanghai.
Quote: “Time — how it expands to fill the spaces you create; how it makes meagre experiences seem never-ending. Whenever he heard people talk about the ravages of time, about how it robbed and deprived, Justin always smiled; because for him, time was an accomplice, plugging the gaps and fleshing out morsels of memory so he would have something substantial to hang on to. That way, however little he had seen or felt, he would always feel as if he had more: a life far richer than the truth.”
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
In 10 words: Darling, age 10, moves from Zimbabwe to America... Detroit, Michigan.
Quote: "Look at them leaving in droves, the children of the land, just look at them leaving in droves. Those with nothing are crossing borders. Those with strength are crossing borders. Those with ambitions are crossing borders. Those with hopes are crossing borders. Those in pain are crossing borders. Moving, running, emigrating, going, deserting, walking, quitting, flying, fleeing – to all over, to countries near and far, to countries unheard of, to countries whose names they cannot pronounce. They are leaving in droves."
Harvest by Jim Crace
In 10 words: A pre-industrial English village is upended by arson and progress.
Quote: "A mighty storm of reckoning was on its way, if there was any justice in the world. The air was cracking with the retribution and damnations that, in my hearts of hearts, I knew that some of us deserved. I prayed that this was just a dream and that soon the couldn't-care-less clamour of the sunrise birds would rouse me to another day, a better day, a bloodless one, one in which, despite my hand, I'd do my common duty and drag up a log or stone to make that short man tall. I prayed that time would turn back on its heels and surprise us with a sudden billowing of breath beneath the baling cloth."
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
In 10 words: The story of brothers with opposite futures spans three generations.
Quote: “Amid the gray, an incongruous band of daytime blue asserts itself. To the west, a pink sun already begins its descent. The effect is of three isolated aspects, distinct phases of the day. All of it, strewn across the horizon, is contained in his vision.”
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
In 10 words: Four generations of Irish women witness history over 150 years.
Quote: “The elaborate search for a word, like the turning of a chain handle on a well. Dropping the bucket down the mineshaft of the mind. Taking up empty bucket after empty bucket until, finally, at an unexpected moment, it caught hard and had a sudden weight and she raised the word, then delved down into the emptiness once more.”
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
In 10 words: A suicidal Japanese teenager's diary discovered by an American novelist.
Quote: “Sometimes when grown-ups are talking to you, and you stare back at them, they start to like they’re inside one of those old-fashioned TV sets, the kind with the thick dark glass, and you can see their mouths moving, only the exact words get drowned out into a lot of staticky white noise so you can barely understand them, which didn’t matter because I wasn’t listening anyway. Mom was talking on and on like a breakfast TV show host, and Muji was burping and trilling like a drunken sparrow, and Jiko was pretending to sleep, Dad was exhaling clouds of cigarette smoke into my clean underpants that were still hanging on the laundry line because in all the excitement Id forgotten to take them down,but none of this mattered because I was deep inside my mind, which is where I go when things get too intense.”
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
In 10 words: After Ireland's economic collapse, 21 characters in a town cope.
Quote: "My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn't yet missed a day of letting me down."
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
In 10 words: An intimate biography of Mary, years after her son's crucifixion.
Quote: I like it that they feed me and pay for my clothes and protect me. And in return I will do for them what I can, but no more than that. Just as I cannot breathe the breath of another or help the heart of someone else to beat or their bones not to weaken or their flesh not to shrivel, I cannot say more than I can say. And I know how deeply this disturbs them, and it would make me smile, this earnest need for foolish anecdote or sharp simple patterns in the story of what happened to us all, except that I have forgotten how to smile.”