Adult Book Lists: Award Winning Fiction of 2016

[Printable book list]

Joe R. Lansdale / WES LANDSDALE
Spur Award for Best Western
Paradise Sky
Taken in by a man named Loving after his father is murdered, young Willie learns to shoot, ride, read, and garden. When Loving dies, Willie re-christens himself Nat Love in tribute and heads west. In South Dakota Territory, Nat becomes a Buffalo Soldier, is befriended by Wild Bill Hickok, and earns the nickname Deadwood Dick and the love of a beautiful woman.
(Also available in large print)

N. K. Jemisin / SF JEMISIN
Hugo Award for Science Fiction
The Fifth Season
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes, those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon, are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back. She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
(Also available in ebook)

Naomi Novik / SF NOVIK
Nebula Award for Science Fiction
Uprooted
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows--everyone knows--that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn't, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
(Also available in ebook)

Anna Smaill / SF SMAILL
World Fantasy Award
The Chimes
After the end of a brutal civil war London is divided, with slums standing next to a walled city of elites. Monk-like masters are selected for special schooling and shut away for decades, learning to write beautiful compositions for the chimes, played citywide morning and night, to mute memory and keep the citizens trapped in ignorance. A young orphan named Simon arrives in London with nothing but the vague sense of a half-forgotten promise, to locate someone. What he finds is a new family--a gang of scavengers that patrols the underbelly of the city looking for valuable metal to sell. Drawn in by an enigmatic and charismatic leader, a blind young man named Lucien with a gift for song, Simon forgets entirely what originally brought him to the place he has now made his home. In this alternate London, the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is considered "blasphony." But Simon has a unique gift, the gift of retaining memories, that will lead him to discover a great injustice and take him far beyond the meager life as a member of Lucien's gang. Before long he will be engaged in an epic struggle for justice, love, and freedom.

Daniel Borzutzky / 811.6 BORZUTZK
National Book Award for Poetry
The Performance of Becoming Human

Colson Whitehead / FIC WHITEHEA
National Book Award
The Undergroudn Railroad
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Their first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels.
(Also available in large print, audiobook, and ebook)

Paul Beatty / FIC BEATTY
Man Booker Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award
The Sellout
The Sellout is a biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, and the father-son relationship. The narrator was raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College, and he spent his childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. After his father is killed in a shoot out with the police, he initiates a course of action, which includes reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, in order to bring attention to his home town. These outrageous events land him with a law suit heard by the Supreme Court, the latest in a series of cases revolving around the thorny issue of race in America.
(Also available in ebook)

Sandra Dallas / FIC DALLAS
Spur Award for Best Western
The Last Midwife
It is 1880 and Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in a small Colorado mining town where she has delivered hundreds, maybe thousands, of babies in her lifetime. She is a gifted and important resource for the women of her hardscrabble community, a position earned through wisdom and trust. Most women in Swandyke couldn't even imagine getting through their pregnancy and labor without Gracy by their sides. But everything changes when a baby is found dead--and the evidence points to Gracy as the killer. Gracy knows she didn't commit the crime. But her innocence isn't quite that simple, either. She knows things and that's dangerous.
(Also available in large print and ebook)

James Hannaham / FIC HANNAHAM
PEN/Faulkner Award
Delicious Foods
Held captive by her employers, and by her own demons, on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival. Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace. Unbeknownst to eleven-year- old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.
(Also available in ebook)

Liane Moriarty / FIC MORIARTY
Goodreads Choice Award
Truly Madly Guilty
Moriarty tells the story of three seemingly happy families. Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a life-time. If there's anything they can count on, it's each other. Clementine and Erika are each other's oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don't hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid's larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won't stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can't stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn't gone? Moriarty shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don't say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.
(Also available in large print, audiobook, and ebook)

Viet Thanh Nguyen / FIC NGUYEN
Pulitzer Prize, Andrew Carnegie Medal
The Sympathizer
The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. A general of the South Vietnamese army, with the help of his trusted captain, is drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that the captain is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The book is narrated by this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause.
(Also available in ebook)

Paul Tremblay / FIC TREMBLAY
Bram Stoker Award
A Head Full of Ghosts
The lives of the Barrett's, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's bizarre outbursts and subsequent descent into madness. As their home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barrett's plight for a reality television show.

Maisy Yates / FIC YATES
Rita Award for Best Romance
Brokedown Cowboy
When his friend Felicity Foster, who needs a place to stay, moves in with him temporarily, widowed rancher Connor Garrett , unable to resist temptation, takes their friendship to a whole new level, which changes everything for both of them.