Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Literary Fiction of 2022.
The winner of the Best Literary Fiction of 2022 is . . .
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz
Cara Romero assumed she’d be working at the factory of little lamps for the remainder of her life. But when she loses her job in the Great Recession when she’s in her mid-50s, she’s back on the hunt. Cara narrates her story to a job counselor, going over her stormy love affairs, financial problems, gentrification, loss, and the truth behind her estranged relationship with her son. Shedding light on her darkest secrets and regrets, Cara is a woman that life has not been kind to, but she’s determined to be a fighter.
The nominees for Best Literary Fiction of 2022 are:
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Inspired by Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, Demon Copperhead addresses issues of institutional poverty and its impact on children in the American South. A boy is born in a trailer to a single teenage mother in the mountains of southern Appalachia. As he grows, he faces the tribulations of foster care, child labor, poor education, addiction, tragic romances, and devastating losses. Armed with a fiery wit and a talent for survival, Demon Copperhead is a symbol for lost children who remain resilient against all odds.
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
In this poignant novel by renowned author Lydia Millet, a man named Gil walks from New York to Arizona in attempt to heal his broken heart. Soon after he arrives, new neighbors move into the glass-walled house next door, and Gil finds his life blending with theirs. A tender, funny, and heartwarming story of one man’s commitment to do good, Dinosaurs is an exploration of hope, community, and the experiences that tie us together.
Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout
In the midst of a pandemic, Lucy Barton’s ex-husband uproots her life from Manhattan to a small town in Maine. For several months, Lucy and William isolate together in a little house by the sea, struggling with fear, uncertainty, and their complex past. Their story explores pain and suffering, loss, friendship, and the comfort of a long-lasting love. Fraught with emotion and hope, Lucy by the Sea encapsulates the beauty of human connection in the darkest of times.
Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer
This journey through one woman’s life explores her adolescence, the experiences that made her who she is, and her struggle against a malevolent illness. After an unexpected diagnosis upends her world, Lia and her family must learn to navigate their new realities. Partially narrated by the disease that is changing the landscape of Lia’s body, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is tender, heartwarming, and life-affirming.
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
In an East Oakland apartment, siblings Kiara and Marcus are barely getting by. After multiple family tragedies, both of them dropped out of high school. Kiara looks for work, hoping to pay rent and keep the abandoned nine-year-old boy next door fed, while Marcus pursues a career in the music industry. But one night, a drunken encounter with a stranger leaves Kiara with a job opportunity she never expected or wanted. A job nightcrawling. Not long after taking on her new role does Kiara find herself involved in a shocking scandal within the Oakland Police Department. When Kiara is exposed as the key witness, everything changes.
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner is lives with his father and knows that he shouldn’t stand out too much. The government enforces laws meant to preserve “American culture” and authorities are permitted to relocate children of dissidents, particularly those of Asian descent. Bird’s mother left the family when he was nine years old. A Chinese American woman, Margaret was a poet whose work is being removed from libraries alongside other books seen as unpatriotic. Bird knows nothing about Margaret’s work or where she went, but when he receives a cryptic drawing in the mail, he is drawn into a quest to find her.
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
In this captivating novel, Jennifer Egan plays with the bounds of technology and brings to life a world where all of our unconscious memories are accessible and even exchangeable. Tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton’s newest creation “Own Your Unconscious” immediately intrigues many—but not without consequences. Creatively narrating through different characters and time periods, Egan reveals the personal and social outcomes of introducing daring technology into personal psychology. In a world perhaps not so far out-of-reach to our own, there are Counters, those who take advantage of Bix’s latest work, and Eluders, who recognize it’s potential cost. The Candy House creatively speaks to relevant issues and moral trade-offs regarding privacy and technology, while simultaneously highlighting the ultimate importance of authentic human connection.
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
In Florence during the 1550s, Lucrezia is the third daughter of the grand duke, perfectly content with her role in the palazzo. But when her older sister dies the night before her wedding to the Duke of Ferrara, Lucrezia is thrown into a new position as she takes her sister’s place and becomes a duchess. Barely a woman, this new world is unfamiliar and mystifying. Her new husband, Alfonso, is a puzzle as well and eventually, Lucrezia realizes her responsibility is to produce an heir—but until then her future is uncertain.
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
Frida Liu is having a very bad day, and because of one moment of poor judgement, she must prove that she can be a good mother or she will lose her daughter. She doesn’t have the support she needs: a career that is not worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices, and a husband that refuses to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Her daughter, Harriet, is the only thing that Frida has done right, and now she must risk it all to be redeemed. A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Sadie Green and Sam Masur are catapulted into stardom when they create a blockbuster called Ichigo. At twenty-four, Sam and Sadie are rich and successful, known for their brilliant work in the film industry. But things take a turn for the worse when betrayals and creative ambitions stand in the way of the life they just started to build. Their story takes place over thirty years, from Massachusetts to California, and explores notions of identity, disability, failure, redemption, and connection.
Trust by Hernan Diaz
In 1920s New York, everyone has heard of the powerfully wealthy Benjamin and Helen Rask, but no one quite understands how they acquired such immense fortune. The 1937 novel Bonds explores this mystery, but there are many versions of this intriguing tale. Trust is a compilation and study of these narratives, investigated by a woman determined to uncover the truth. Full of thrilling revelations, Trust flawlessly captures deceptive relationships, reality-warping wealth, and the manipulation of facts by those in power.