The 2002 List
The Notable Books Council of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, selected these titles for their significant contribution to the expansion of knowledge or for the pleasure they can provide to adult readers.
F I C T I O NCarey, Peter, True History of the Kelly Gang, Knopf, $25 (ISBN: 0-375-41084-8)
In an utterly convincing voice, Carey fictionalizes the life of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, who was part Robin Hood and part Jesse James.
Among the Missing, Ballantine, $22 (ISBN: 0-345-44162-1)
These twelve disquieting stories explore variations on the theme of loss (of friends, loved ones, places, and possibilities) and the loneliness at the heart of life.
Samuel Johnson Is Indignant: Stories, McSweeney's, $16 (ISBN: 0-9703355-9-8)
In a collection of fifty-six short fictions, ranging in length from two lines to twenty pages, Davis wittily creates a world of alienation, confusion, and resignation.
Erasure: A Novel, UP New England, $24.95 (ISBN: 1-58465-090-7)
Theolonius "Monk" Ellison exposes the publishing world's hand in stereotyping African Americans for the sake of profit in this daring literary game of poker.
The Corrections: A Novel, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 (ISBN: 0-374-12998-3)
All the foibles of three grown children and their aging parents are exposed in this highly readable postmodern family saga.
The Pickup: A Novel, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24 (ISBN: 0-374-23210-5)
A liberal white South African woman and her lover, a Muslim illegal immigrant, confront the difficulties arising from their different backgrounds, circumstances, and dreams.
Island: The Complete Stories, Norton, $24 (ISBN: 0-393-05035-1)
The texture of rural life in the second half of twentieth-century Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, infuses these beautiful stories.
Bucking the Tiger, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25 (ISBN: 0-374-11727-6)
This fictional collage picturing the life of Doc Holliday--constructed from newspaper clippings, interviews, poetry, and personal narrative--is ultimately a meditation on the Old West.
Austerlitz, Random House, $25.95 (ISBN: 0-375-50483-4)
In this moving rumination on history and memory, an architectural historian must reconstruct his past when he discovers his true identity.
The Death of Vishnu, Norton, $24.95 (ISBN: 0-393-05042-4)
As Hindu servant Vishnu lies dying and ignored on the landing of a Bombay apartment building, life in all its complexities continues for the residents upstairs.
Crooked River Burning, Harcourt, $27 (ISBN: 0-15-100294-0)
Set in 1950s and 1960s Cleveland, Ohio, this highly entertaining novel charts the rise and fall of an aging industrial center and profiles its inhabitants, both real and imagined.
N O N F I C T I O NArana, Marie, American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, Dial, $23.95 (ISBN: 0-385-31962-2)
Recalling her childhood as the daughter of a Peruvian father and an American mother, Arana demonstrates how these competing cultures complicated yet enriched her life.
Aztec Treasure House: New and Selected Essays, Counterpoint, $28 (ISBN: 1-58243-162-0)
Weaving art and science, these brilliantly crafted essays bring the far corners of history and geography alive in the reader's imagination.
An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan, Picador, $30 (ISBN: 0-312-27459-9)
Afghanistan's resilient people occupy center stage in Elliot's personal and vivid journey through this devastated and complex land.
War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals, Scribner, $28 (ISBN: 0-7432-0212-0)
Clear, cogent, and engaging, Halberstam's masterful account of the making of U.S. foreign policy in the 1990s provides a context for understanding contemporary events.
Hallinan, Joseph T.,
Going up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, Random House, $24.95 (ISBN: 0-375-50263-7)
This thorough, clear, and riveting expose offers a powerful examination of the American prison industrial complex.
River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, HarperCollins, $26 (ISBN: 0-06-019544-4)
Hessler, with compassion, humor, and keen insight into modern Chinese culture, describes his two years teaching in rural Fuling as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Seabiscuit: an American Legend, Random House, $24.95 (ISBN: 0-375-50291-2)
Well paced and rich with period details, this absorbing account follows the rise of an unimpressive colt who became the 1938 Horse of the Year.
Lerner, Barron H.,
The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, Fear & the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America, Oxford, $30 (ISBN: 0-19-514261-6)
Lerner presents a comprehensive history of breast cancer research and treatment, beginning with the radical mastectomy.
Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, Metropolitan, $26 (ISBN: 0-8050-4908-8)
The story of the Chavez family's loss of three sons in a border crossing humanizes the political and economic forces behind the migrant experience.
John Adams, Simon & Schuster, $35 (ISBN: 0-684-81363-7)
Narrative history at its finest, this is a fascinating and readable biography of the often disregarded second president.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Houghton, $25 (ISBN: 0-395-97789-4)
Schlosser's scathing investigation reveals the insidious influences of the fast-food industry on America's agriculture industry, business world, popular culture, and diet.
Smith, Jean Edward,
Grant, Simon & Schuster, $35 (ISBN: 0-684-94926-7)
This lucid, fast-paced account of Grant's military and political career gives a new understanding of the eighteenth president.
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, Scribner, $28 (ISBN: 0-684-85466-X)
The author draws on his own life story and other sources for a deeply moving and provocative exploration of depression.
P O E T R YCollins, Billy, Sailing Alone around the Room: New and Selected Poems, Random House, $21.95 (ISBN: 0-375-50380-3)
The U.S. poet laureate illuminates the landscape of the ordinary with humor and intelligence.
What the Ice Gets: Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition 1914-1916, Van West, $14 (ISBN: 0-9677021-1-9)
Mueller's epic poem of adventure and exploration recalls the beauty and dangers of this legendary voyage.
Notable Books, 2002, committee members: Bonnier Farrier, chair, New York Public Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped; Andrea Copeland, Hunter College Library (NY); Ann M. Dewell, Tulane University Law Library (LA); Iva Freeman, Kendall College Library (IL); David Hellman, San Francisco State University, J. Paul Leonard Library (CA); Nancy Pearl, Seattle (WA) Public Library; Ike Pulver, Cleveland (OH) Public Library; Ginny C. Rollett, Edmonds Library, Seattle (WA); Wayne Roylance, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library; Marian R. Shilstone, Connecticut College, Shain Library; Sarah Barbara Watstein, VCU Libraries, James Branch Cabell Library, Richmond (VA); and Brad Hooper, consultant, Booklist, Chicago, IL.
From right to left... Ann Dewell, Nancy Pearl, Andrea Copeland, Marian Shilstone, Ginny Rollett, Iva Freeman, A. Issac Pulver, Bonnie Farrier (Chair), Sarah Watstein, Wayne Roylance (Vice Chair), David Hellman.