2012 List

The 2012 Winners


Banks, Russell.  Lost Memory of Skin.  Ecco. (9780061857638)
A surprisingly sympathetic exploration of the lives and treatment of sex offenders and how this reflects on our society.

Barnes, Julian.  The Sense of an Ending.  Knopf.  (9780307957122)
A 60-something retiree living near London searches through his memories to discern what role, if any, he may have played in a decades-old tragedy.

deWitt, Patrick.  The Sisters Brothers.  Ecco.  (9780062041265)
A darkly comic and quixotic quest western tale about two brothers whose divergent world views are presented in sparkling prose and originality.

Goldman, Francisco.  Say Her Name.  Grove.  (9780802119810)
Poetic novelization of the author’s struggle to cope with his young wife’s accidental death.

Harbach, Chad.  The Art of Fielding.  Little, Brown.  (9780316126694)
One man’s failure to attain perfection on the baseball field reveals the pain and beauty that life offers in this psychologically astute novel.

MacLeod, Alexander.  Light Lifting.  Biblioasis.  (9781897231944)
Seven fearless short stories explore the limits of physical and emotional endurance in muscular prose.

Obreht, Téa.  The Tiger’s Wife.  Random House.  (9780385343831)
After the death of her beloved grandfather, a young doctor navigates family history, folklore, and love across ethnic barriers in a war-torn country.

Ondaatje, Michael.  The Cat’s Table.  Knopf.  (9780307700117)
An adventurous 21-day ocean voyage filled with a rich assortment of characters and escapades resonates through a boy’s life on his way to a new life.

Phillips, Arthur.  The Tragedy of Arthur.  Random House.  (9781400066476)
In an adulthood marred by family dysfunction, an author who dislikes Shakespeare reluctantly finds himself in possession of the Bard’s lost gem.  Or does he?

Russell, Karen.  Swamplandia!  Knopf.  (9780307263995)
An inventive story set in an alligator theme-park navigates boundaries between childhood and adulthood, imagination and reality, in an American landscape both familiar and surreal.

Torres, Justin.  We the Animals.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  (9780547576725)
Searing portrait of a troubled, mixed-race working class family centers on the youngest son as he struggles to find his identity amid affection and abuse.

Trevor, William.  Selected Stories.  Viking.  (9780670022069)
These finely sculpted and timeless stories provide a greater appreciation for finding beauty in the minutiae of daily life.


Adams, Mark.  Right Turn at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time.  Dutton. (9780525952244)
In this humorous travelogue, the author sprinkles historical anecdote with investigative reporting as he retraces the steps of early explorers into ancient Peru.

Bartók, Mira. The Memory Palace.  Free Press.  (9781439183311)
Beautifully wrought memoir chronicles the 17-year estrangement of the author and her homeless, schizophrenic mother, and the painful reunion that brings them together.

Gleick, James.  The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood.  Knopf.  (9780375423727)
This comprehensive study, a melodious interplay between science and literature, documents the transmission of human knowledge from the talking drums to the Internet.

Greenblatt, Stephen.  The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.  Norton. (9780393064476)
Meditation on the power of literature, examining how a medieval book hunter’s serendipitous discovery of an ancient prose poem provides a theoretical bridge to the Renaissance.

Hillenbrand, Laura.  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  Random House.  (9781400064168)
An Olympic runner’s physical and inner-strength is tested by the experience and aftermath of a plane crash, 42 days at sea, and Japanese imprisonment.

Hitchens, Christopher.  Arguably: Essays.  Twelve.  (9781455502776)
Polymath and public intellectual displays his considerable range and biting wit in these thoughtful, incisive pieces that provoke and challenge.

Homans, Jennifer.  Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet.  Random House.  (9781400060603)
Elegant, authoritative work traces the evolution of classical dance from the 16th century to today, highlighting social and cultural dimensions of this traditional art form.

Kahneman, Daniel.  Thinking, Fast and Slow.  Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.  (9780374275631)
Entertaining look at the complexities and oddities that characterize our mental processes from the only psychologist ever to have won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Marable, Manning.  Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.  Viking.  (9780670022205)
Definitive work on his life and transformation from petty thief to charismatic leader of during the turbulent civil rights era.

Millard, Candace.  Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President.  Doubleday.  (9780385526265)
Era of great corruption and change in U.S. history is illuminated through the tragic story of two men – one destined for greatness, the other a madman.

Mukherjee, Siddhartha.  Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.  Scribner.  (9781439107959)
The history of these diseases and their treatment is examined through the stories of those seeking to discover a cure and the individuals affected.

Reitman, Janet.  Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  (9780618883028)
An investigation of the origins, personalities, and controversies of this uniquely American religious movement.


Rimbaud, Arthur.  Illuminations. Translated by John Ashbery.  Norton.  (9780393076356)
A vigorous new translation of the French prodigy’s last poems as rendered by one of America’s finest contemporary poets.

Bartlett, Jennifer, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen.  Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability.  Cinco Puntos.  (9781935955054)
Collection of poems and essays that provides insight into the lives of the estimated 50 million Americans with disabilities.