The Greatest American "Fiction" Books Since 2010

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books in literature. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 200 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed literary works. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details about the selection process can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    "A Visit from the Goon Squad" is an interconnected collection of stories about a group of characters whose lives intersect in the music industry. The narrative spans several decades, tracing the characters' journey from their youth to middle age. It explores themes of time, change, and the impact of technology on human relationships and the music industry. The novel is known for its experimental structure, including a chapter written as a PowerPoint presentation.

  2. 2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    This thrilling novel revolves around the sudden disappearance of a woman on her fifth wedding anniversary. As the investigation unfolds, all evidence points to her husband as the prime suspect. However, the story takes a twist as the wife's diary entries reveal a darker side to their seemingly perfect marriage. The narrative alternates between the husband's present-day perspective and the wife's diary entries, leaving readers in suspense about what truly happened. The book explores themes of deceit, media influence, and the complexities of marriage.

  3. 3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    This novel follows the journey of Cora, a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, who escapes and embarks on a journey towards freedom via the Underground Railroad. The book presents a literal version of the historical Underground Railroad, portraying it as a physical network of tunnels and tracks beneath the Southern soil. As Cora travels from state to state, she encounters different worlds and harsh realities, each one illuminating the various forms of oppression Black people faced in America. The narrative is a brutal exploration of America's history of slavery and racism, and a testament to the unyielding spirit of those who fought against it.

  4. 4. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

    A woman searches for her kidnapped daughter in a world ravaged by a catastrophic climate change event known as the Fifth Season. Simultaneously, the narrative follows a young girl with destructive powers and a man struggling to control his own similar abilities. The story explores themes of oppression, survival, and the destructive power of nature, all set in a dystopian world where the earth is constantly in flux, and society is strictly divided and controlled.

  5. 5. The Sellout by Paul Beatty

    This satirical novel follows the story of an African-American man living in a small, agrarian town on the outskirts of Los Angeles. After his father's death, he attempts to reinstate slavery and segregation in his town as a means of creating a sense of identity for himself and his community. The novel explores themes of racial identity and equality in America, challenging societal norms and expectations through its provocative narrative.

  6. 6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    The book follows the life of a young boy who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum, which kills his mother. In the confusion following the explosion, he steals a priceless Dutch painting, The Goldfinch, which becomes his secret treasure and eventually draws him into the criminal underworld. The narrative explores themes of loss, survival, and the power of art to shape human destiny.

  7. 7. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

    "The Sympathizer" is a gripping spy novel set during the Vietnam War. The protagonist is a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who is a communist double agent. After the Fall of Saigon, he moves to America with other South Vietnamese refugees and struggles to reconcile his dual loyalties as he continues to spy on his fellow countrymen in exile. The novel explores themes of identity, war, and politics, while providing a unique perspective on the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

  8. 8. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    The novel explores the journey of a 13-year-old boy, his drug-addicted mother, and his baby sister as they travel through Mississippi to pick up their white father from the state penitentiary. The story is steeped in the harsh realities of poverty, racism, and struggle, and is further complicated by the presence of a ghost from the family's past. It's a haunting tale about the legacy of trauma and the power of family ties.

  9. 9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    Set during the turmoil of World War II, the novel follows the intersecting lives of a blind French girl and a German boy. The girl, living in occupied France, seeks solace in the world of books and the imagination, while the boy, a member of Hitler Youth, is a radio operator for the German forces. Their paths cross in the walled city of Saint-Malo, with the narrative exploring themes of survival, morality, and the human spirit.

  10. 10. Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen

    This novel is a multi-generational saga that explores the lives of the Berglund family. It delves into their personal struggles and relationships, and how they navigate through the complexities of life in contemporary America. The narrative explores themes of freedom in various forms, including personal freedom, societal freedom, and the freedom of choice. The book also examines the impact of these choices on the family’s dynamics, their relationships, and their identities.

  11. 11. Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

    Set in a poor rural community in Mississippi, this novel follows the story of a pregnant teenage girl named Esch and her three brothers as they navigate their lives in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. Their mother is dead and their father is a neglectful alcoholic, leaving the siblings to fend for themselves. The book explores themes of poverty, racism, and survival, showcasing the resilience and strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

  12. 12. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

    The book is a profound exploration of love, loyalty, and justice, centered on a young African American couple whose lives are shattered when the husband is wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn't commit. The narrative delves into the emotional turmoil that ensues, as the wife struggles with her obligations to her husband and her own desires for happiness. Through a series of letters exchanged between the couple during the husband's incarceration, and the perspectives of those entangled in their plight, the story examines the complexities of marriage, the impact of racial injustice on personal relationships, and the resilience required to overcome profound adversity.

  13. 13. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel by Ben Fountain

    The novel follows Billy Lynn, a 19-year-old soldier, who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. During the tour, they're honored at a Dallas Cowboys game, which exposes the commercialization and shallow appreciation of their sacrifices. Amidst the celebration, Billy grapples with his understanding of heroism, patriotism, family, and the stark contrast between the realities of war and America's perceptions.

  14. 14. The Flamethrowers: A Novel by Rachel Kushner

    Set in the 1970s, the novel follows a young woman known only as Reno, who moves to New York with dreams of becoming an artist. She becomes involved with an older, established artist who is a member of the city's avant-garde scene. The story also delves into the world of Italian motorcycle racing and radical politics, exploring themes of art, feminism, love, and betrayal. The narrative shifts between Reno's experiences in New York and Italy, and the history of a radical movement in Italy.

  15. 15. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    The novel is set in a graveyard over the course of a single night and is narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices. The story is centered around the death of President Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie, who resides in the Bardo, a transitional state between life and rebirth in Tibetan tradition. As Willie interacts with the other spirits stuck in this realm, his father visits the crypt to mourn, causing a struggle among the ghosts over the boy's soul. The narrative explores themes of grief, the impermanence of life, and the unresolved issues that keep us from moving on.

  16. 16. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    The book revolves around the Richardson family and the mysterious mother-daughter duo who move into their rental home in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The lives of the seemingly perfect suburban Richardson family become intertwined with the lives of Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist, and her daughter Pearl. As the children of both families form relationships, secrets are uncovered, leading to a dramatic climax. The novel explores themes of motherhood, identity, and the moral complexities of following rules versus following one's instincts.

  17. 17. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

    "The Art of Fielding" is a tale centered around a college baseball star who seems destined for the big leagues but abruptly loses his ability to throw accurately. The story explores the aftermath of his downfall, the impact on his relationships with his teammates, roommates, and a college president, and the struggle of self-discovery and acceptance. It's a tale of friendship, ambition, and the pressures of expectation, all set against the backdrop of America's beloved pastime.

  18. 18. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

    "Dept. of Speculation" follows the story of a woman navigating her life as a writer, a wife, and a mother. The novel explores her journey through marriage, motherhood, and the struggles of maintaining her own identity amidst these roles. It also delves into the hardships of dealing with infidelity and the complexities of love and relationships. The narrative is presented in fragmented pieces, reflecting the protagonist's scattered thoughts and emotions.

  19. 19. Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

    This novel consists of two seemingly unrelated sections. The first part is a love story between a young American editor and a much older, famous writer. The second part is about an Iraqi-American economist detained by immigration officers in London. The two narratives converge in a surprising way, exploring themes of power imbalances, injustice, and the complexity of human relationships.

  20. 20. The Overstory by Richard Powers

    The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of the natural world. The novel tells the intertwined tales of nine different people who are drawn into the last standing few acres of virgin forest in North America. From a young artist who inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut, to a hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocuted by a streetlight, each character's story adds another layer of depth to the narrative. Their lives slowly merge with each other and the fate of the trees, showing the interconnectedness of life, human and otherwise.

  21. 21. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

    A teenage boy navigates the complexities of life after his mother is brutally attacked on their reservation in North Dakota. As the legal system fails to bring justice due to jurisdictional issues, the boy takes matters into his own hands. The novel explores themes of tribal law, justice, and the transition into adulthood, all set against the backdrop of Native American culture and history.

  22. 22. Normal People by Sally Rooney

    "Normal People" is a novel that explores the complex relationship between two high school students from different social classes in a small town in Ireland. Despite their contrasting backgrounds, they form a strong bond that continues into their university years at Trinity College. The narrative follows their journey, filled with misunderstandings, miscommunications, and emotional intimacy, as they navigate their way through love, friendship, mental health issues, and the struggles of growing up.

  23. 23. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

    The novel is a deeply moving portrayal of four friends in New York City, spanning over several decades. It primarily focuses on Jude, a man with a mysterious and traumatic past, who struggles with physical disability and emotional trauma. The story explores themes of friendship, love, trauma, suffering, and the human will to endure in spite of life's hardships. It is an epic tale of heartbreak and despair but also of resilience and enduring love.

  24. 24. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

    "Demon Copperhead" is a short story by Barbara Kingsolver about a young woman named Codi who returns to her small hometown in Arizona to care for her father, who is dying of Alzheimer's disease. As she reconnects with her past and the people in her community, Codi discovers a dark secret about her family's history and must come to terms with the truth. The story explores themes of family, identity, and the impact of the past on the present.

  25. 25. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

    The novel is a reimagining of the ancient Greek epic of the Trojan War, told from the perspective of Patroclus, an exiled young prince who becomes the beloved companion of Achilles, the greatest warrior of his age. Their deep bond and affection for one another transform into a powerful love that defies the expectations of their society and the will of the gods. As they grow into men, their fates become increasingly intertwined with the legendary conflict at Troy, where honor, sacrifice, and destiny culminate in a poignant and tragic conclusion. The story explores themes of heroism, glory, and the humanizing effects of love against the backdrop of war and the capricious whims of immortals.

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download