Best literature and fiction of 2020

Erin Kodicek on December 08, 2020
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Best literature and fiction of 2020

Best-selling author Neil Gaiman said: "Fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gifts of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over." If ever there was a year when we needed to expand our empathy it's this one, and fortunately there have been a bevy of fantastic fictions on offer to help us do just that.

Here are some of the Amazon Editors' favorites. Be sure to check out the full list of the Best Literature and Fiction of the Year as well as the Best Books of the Year.


Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Teeming with adventure, darkness, love, and loss, Migrations is our top pick for the best novel of 2020. Why? Because it’s impossible to put down as you learn about the life of Franny Stone, a sharp, flawed, and determined woman who will stop at nothing to track down what she’s lost. She’s on the run and on the loose, and it is one heck of a ride on the open seas. —Al Woodworth


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Ideal for book clubs, The Vanishing Half examines sisterhood, personal identity, starting fresh, and what it means to be Black (and white) in America. Bennett is known for creating taut family dramas, and like her brilliant debut, The Mothers, this novel shows just how strong the bonds of sisters are, even at their weakest. —Al Woodworth


Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Featuring a sympathetic heroine whom you’ll feel hell-bent to defend, Asha Lemmie’s addictive debut novel will have you rooting for a young girl who must summon the courage to assert her own identity and live life on her own terms.  —Erin Kodicek


The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

You will seethe with rage but then your heart will swell after reading this rousing tale of courage and pluck about a young girl in Nigeria who is sold into servitude. You will also never take the luxury of an education for granted again.  —Erin Kodicek


Memorial by Bryan Washington

Told in a loose style, Memorial unfolds with depth, humor, and telling detail. Mike is a Japanese-American chef. His partner, Benson, is a Black daycare teacher. When Mike leaves Houston to visit his ailing father in Osaka, his mother comes to live with Benson. You will laugh, cry, and ask yourself: What makes a family? —Chris Schluep


A Burning by Megha Majumdar

A thoughtful, thought-provoking debut set in modern day India. Told from three points of view, the story mostly follows Jivan, a young Muslim woman who leaves an innocuous Facebook comment that will soon haunt her. Majumdar explores important themes, but never at the cost of the inner lives of her memorable characters. —Chris Schluep


Luster by Raven Leilani

Luster—told from the point of view of a young Black woman who starts dating an older white man—is exciting, surprising, sometimes sad, at times awkward, even shocking. And it’s very funny. Any discomfort you experience while reading will mirror the discomfort the characters feel—about age, status, race, sex, salaries, you name it. Luster has an energy and an honesty that make the words practically shimmer on the page. —Chris Schluep


Deacon King Kong by James McBride

A rowdy cast of beguiling, booze-filled, and larger than life characters collide in 1960s Brooklyn in this unforgettable, laugh-out-loud novel. Deacon King Kong tells a broader story of race and religion, getting by and getting out, and how grudges and alliances become embedded in the foundations of our neighborhoods. —Al Woodworth


Writers & Lovers by Lily King

A book about an aspiring novelist could read like navel gazing. But Writers & Lovers is a breath of fresh air, with characters that leap off the page. This a story about dreams—of a creative life, of finding love. Both require daily, often imperceptible leaps of faith, and this book captures that perfectly. —Chris Schluep


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

It’s a good thing Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies is so beautifully written; it balances the brutality of what unfolds, but doesn’t blunt the impact of a cautionary tale that is surprisingly relevant for its historical setting. It’s a page-turner that is infuriating, baleful, but full of stubborn hope. You won’t cry mercy before finishing it. —Erin Kodicek


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