Tana French Recommends a Book That Has Everything
Posted by: Keir Graff
The authors we’ve been hearing from this month are all very accomplished but, if I’m not mistaken, only Tana French can boast that she’s batting 1.000 with Booklist. Three books—In the Woods (2007), The Likeness (2008), and Faithful Place (2010)—three starred reviews. Oh, and she won the Edgar for Best First Novel, too. Of the last, our reviewer wrote: “French’s writing remains brilliant, and her dialogue is sharp, often lacerating, and sometimes mordantly funny. Faithful Place is her best book yet.” (If you haven’t read it yet, the Penguin paperback comes out in July.) We asked the author to share her favorite read of the past year and got this fascinating response.
There used to be this tired old idea (now, I hope, dead and buried with a stake through its heart) that genre fiction has gripping plots, and literary fiction has thematic depth and beautiful writing and complex three-dimensional characters, and never the two shall meet. I’ve never been a big fan of choosing between A and B when I could have a good big scoop of each. So I like crime books that have the plot and the characterization and the writing and the thematic depth.
The latest one I’ve found that does it all is Megan Abbott’s The End of Everything (it’s out this summer, but I got a sneak preview). Lizzie and Evie are thirteen and inseparable—until the afternoon Evie disappears. Everyone thinks Lizzie has the answer. Even Lizzie thinks she might have it, snagged somewhere in the back of her mind; and so she goes chasing after it, before it’s too late . . . .
It’s a great story, taut and disturbing and very hard to put down, but it’s also full of beautiful writing, flashes of perfect observation, and explorations of power and knowledge. I’m not sure I’ve ever read another book that does such a lovely job of capturing what it’s like to be thirteen—the power as well as the fragility of it, the breathtaking anticipation and the confusion and the sense of half-understood danger.
Share your own favorite reads in the comments, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter (#mysterymonth). May is Mystery Month!