As 2016 draws to a close, major publications have begun to release their lists of the best books of the year. Three Columbia affiliates—one alumna and two faculty members—have had their books named in the New York Times annual Notable Books list, arguably one of the most widely cited roundups of the year’s top titles.
Writing Program alumna Affinity Konar’s ’08 second novel, Mischling, was named one of 2016’s fiction must-reads. The Times writes, “Konar uses the unsettling and grievous history of Dr. Josef Mengele’s experiments on children, particularly twins, to riveting effect.” Read more about Konar’s novel and the numerous plaudits it’s received.
Still Here, a novel by Writing Program adjunct faculty member Lara Vapnyar, was also named one of the top fiction books of the year. “In this razor-funny novel,” the Times writes, “four Russian friends try to make their way in New York.”
Another Writing Program instructor, Simon Schama, had his book, The Face of Britain: A History of the Nation Through Its Portraits, named among best nonfiction titles of the year. The Times calls the book a “splendid book to accompany a BBC series hosted by the eminently readable historian and art critic.” In addition to teaching in the Writing Program, Schama also serves as a professor of art history and history at Columbia.