Public Picks 2014

Welcome to the second annual edition of Public Picks, a selection of the books and art that most interested and excited our editorial staff over the past year. As in last year’s Picks, we aimed for a ...

Welcome to the second annual edition of Public Picks, a selection of the books and art that most interested and excited our editorial staff over the past year. As in last year’s Picks, we aimed for a list that combines the best of the best with more idiosyncratic works that you may have missed.

With admiring nods to widely praised works like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and the second volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial and Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, to Oscar-winning films like Twelve Years a Slave and The Great Beauty, then, here are our picks: a dozen titles each in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and art and media that appeared in the US between May 1, 2013, and April 30, 2014, joined this year by a top 10 list of graphic works from the same period. We hope you’ll find many new favorites among them.


• César Aira, The Hare, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor (New Directions)
• Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam (Nan A. Talese)
• J. M. Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus (Viking)
• Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Europa)
• Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Marian Wood / Putnam)
• Gaute Heivoll, Before I Burn, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Graywolf)
• Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press)
• Eric Lundgren, The Facades (Overlook)
• Lorrie Moore, Bark (Knopf)
• Minae Mizumura, A True Novel, translated from the Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter (Other Press)
• Josep Pla, The Gray Notebook, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush (New York Review Books Classics)
• Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird (Riverhead)



• Sasha Abramsky, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives (Nation Books)
• Hilton Als, White Girls (McSweeney’s)
• David Finkel, Thank You for Your Service (Sarah Crichton / Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
• Estelle B. Freedman, Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation (Harvard University Press)
• Alice Goffman, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City (University of Chicago Press)
• Greg Grandin, Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (Metropolitan Books)
• Douglas Kahn, Earth Sound Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press)
• Jürgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century, translated from the German by Patrick Camiller (Princeton University Press)
• Pierre Rosanvallon, The Society of Equals, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Harvard University Press)
• Fred Turner, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties (University of Chicago Press)
• Camilo José Vergara, Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto (University of Chicago Press)
• Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped (Bloomsbury)



• Haifaa al-Mansour (director), Wadjda (Razor Film)
• Tim Carroll (director), Twelfth Night, with Mark Rylance (Belasco Theatre, New York, November 10, 2013–February 16, 2014)
• Asghar Farhadi (director), The Past (Memento Films and France 3 Cinéma)
• Wayne Lawrence, Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera (Prestel)
• Xavier Legrand (director), Just Before Losing Everything (K.G. Productions, Canal+, and Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée)
• John Maloof and Charlie Siskel (directors), Finding Vivian Maier (Ravine Pictures)
• Carol Mavor, Blue Mythologies: Reflections on a Colour (Reaktion)
• Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Anonymous (directors), The Act of Killing (Final Cut for Real)
• Michael Rock et al., Multiple Signatures: On Designers, Authors, Readers and Users (Rizzoli)
• Valerie Steele and Fred Dennis (curators), “A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk” (The Museum at FIT, New York, September 13, 2013–January 4, 2014)
• Alexander Vreeland (editor), Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years (Rizzoli)
• Cynthia Young (editor), Capa in Color (Prestel)


• Isabel Greenberg, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth (Little, Brown)
• Rutu Modan, The Property, translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (Drawn & Quarterly)
• John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, March: Book One (Top Shelf)
• Ulli Lust, Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, translated from the German by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
• Danica Novgorodoff, The Undertaking of Lilly Chen (First Second)
• Frederik Peeters, Pachyderme, translated from the French by Edward Gauvin (SelfMadeHero)
• Ed Piskor, Hip Hop Family Tree: Book One (Fantagraphics)
• Joe Sacco, The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme (W. W. Norton)
• Dash Shaw, New School (Fantagraphics)
• Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second)