Books of the year 2011: Julie Myerson

People Who Eat Darkness: the Fate of Lucie Blackman - Richard Lloyd Parry

People Who Eat Darkness: the Fate of Lucie Blackman (Jonathan Cape, £17.99) by Richard Lloyd Parry is one of those rare, barely categorisable books that take you straight to the heart of a tragic and dimly remembered news story.

Kevin Brockmeier's The Illumination (Jonathan Cape, £16.99) - gloriously inventive and original, euphorically daring in scope - reminds you that fiction can be energetic and boundary-breaking.

Jeanette Winterson's admirably honest memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Jonathan Cape, £14.99) boasts everything that she does best: courage, ferocity and prose that soars. And Jacqueline Yallop's Obedience (Atlantic Books, £12.99), a novel about an elderly French nun coming to terms with her wartime past, should have been on the Booker shortlist: seriously intelligent (and serious), steeped in ambiguities and hugely readable. Can a novel do or be more?

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