Forget Amis, McEwan and the Booker winner — these are the best novels of 2014
I yodelled at Richard Flanagan’s fervently written Booker winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto, £16), especially when a sex scene in the dunes was cut short by this Yeatsian apparition of a dog: “Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.” I moaned throughout David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (Sceptre, £20), in which Matrix-esque immortal warriors take over the bodies of a Seventies schoolgirl and a yah on a skiing holiday, crescendoing at lines like: “Incorporeally, I pour psychovoltage into a neurobolas and kinetic it through the hole.”
By the time I got to Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest (Cape, £18.99), a Nazi bureaucratic satire apparently convinced that what the concentration camp novel needed was more camp (“I mean, a lorry full of starved corpses. All a bit gauche and provincial, don’t you think?”) I could only manage quiet despairing yowls. All these bestselling novels got five-star reviews elsewhere. Consider this a warning.