Books of the year 2011: Jonathan Derbyshire

The Pale King - David Foster Wallace

The Pale King (Hamish Hamilton, £20), the "long thing" that David Foster Wallace had been working on before his suicide in 2008, was not a disappointment. From the thousands of pages of manuscript Wallace left behind when he died, his editor Michael Pietsch fashioned a remarkable novel about loneliness, boredom and the dignity (and indignities) of labour.

Like many of Wallace's characters, Julius, the narrator of Teju Cole's magnificent first novel, Open City (Faber & Faber, £12.99), is a solitary - peripatetic, ruminative and wholly unforgettable.

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