The Best Fiction of 2023

2023 brought triumphant returns for authors we were dying to hear more from, as well as some truly exceptional debuts. These 13 novels and a collection of stories are the best of the year: each bold, insightful and simply a delight to read.

Nicola Dinan’s debut is a vulnerable, moving, riotously funny and deeply honest story about trans life, first love, art-making, friendship, grief and the hard, slow process of building a home—in a new country, with another person and inside yourself.

With blacked-out passages and beautiful, surreal images woven throughout the narrative, Justin Torres delivers a feverish, thrilling and envelope-pushing novel, bringing together several strands of both Latin American and queer literature.

Crook Manifesto more than matches the finely hewn psychological tensions that haunted Colson Whitehead’s main character in Harlem Shuffle. The interplay between context and character makes this sequel soar.

Angie Kim’s suspenseful follow-up to Miracle Creek follows a family that lives in a quiet and even bucolic neighborhood near Washington, D.C. They try to stay out of trouble. But trouble comes to them.

In Memoriam is a remarkably beautiful debut novel, both a gripping love-in-wartime story and a meditation on the futility and trauma of World War I.

Tania James’ third novel is brilliant and unique, her creative liberties mixing well with the historical realities of colonialism and migration.

With Return to Valetto, Dominic Smith doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but he doesn’t need to: He is a master of his trade who has executed a flawless novel that satisfies on all counts.

Sprawling, passionate, tragic and comedic at turns—author Abraham Verghese upends all of our expectations again and again in his long awaited follow-up to Cutting for Stone.

Zadie Smith writes eloquent, powerful and often quite humorous novels with social issues at the fore, and The Fraud is no exception. Its firm grounding in the past offers a rich reflection of the present.

The Future is a daring, sexy, thrilling novel that may be the most wryly funny book about the end of civilization you’ll ever read.

The prose in Rachel Heng’s second novel, set in 20th-century Singapore, is alive. Each character is rich with complexity and depth, each snapshot brimming with imagery.

James McBride is a lyricist and musician, and there’s a rhythmic quality to his unique sixth novel, a riveting historical tale full of all kinds of love.

Tom Lake is a gorgeously layered novel that spans decades yet still feels intimate, meditating on love, family and the choices we make.

Without ranging beyond New York City, the stories in Jamel Brinkley’s exceptional second collection journey deep into the human heart through precise language and a generous spirit.