Books of the year 2011: David Herman

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss

 

Like her breakthrough novel, The History of Love, Nicole Krauss's Great House (Viking, £16.99) is about a search. It is full of mysteries and suspense, building towards one of the great climaxes in contemporary fiction. The central idea of the novel haunts me almost a year after
I first read it.

Fred Halliday's book of essays Political Journeys (Saqi Books, £14.99) is an indispensable guide to the historical event of the year - the Arab spring. But, above all, it is a passionate defence of what should be our core values: universalism, human rights, secularism and humanitarianism. Halliday died last year. The book is an invaluable reminder of one of the most thoughtful and humane figures on the international left. Finally, Radio 4 introduced a larger audience to Vasily Grossman's masterpiece Life and Fate (Vintage Classics, £9.99), one of the great novels of the 20th century. For once, the hype was right. It is that good.

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