I've read a total of 11 books this year. At the moment, I'm moving through the River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. While I enjoy the historical detail about the time leading up to the Opium Wars, his narrative often bogs down the action. But then, who needs action? The lush descriptions of the wild of Hong Kong in the 1800's, the riot of Canton street life, the politics of the commercial organizations are drawn very precisely. So I enjoy that.
The other books I've read:
9. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes - I guess this would be an urban fantasy, a near future parallel universe where criminals magically become paired with animals which reveal something of their personality. The main character, Zinzi December, is a petty criminal but when she becomes 'animalled' with a sloth during her prison sentence, she develops the ability to find lost things. She can look at a person and know what they have lost, which is still connected through a network in unseen reality. She is hired to find a lost pop star, and moves through a world of shifting alliances. I gave it five stars.
10. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. A remarkable work of creative non-fiction. I'm not sure how she was able to get so close to the undercurrent of Mumbai marginal life, but it's an amazing accomplishment. She follows the lives of people who live in the Annawadi slum, within sight of the International Airport and bounded by a lake full of trash. The book follows their petty jealousies, their kindnesses to each other, living day by day through seeking and selling recyclable trash, their hopes for the future. Then a misunderstanding, starting from a minor quarrel, leads to the death/ suicide of one of the people in the slum and the false accusations of one of their neighbors. More than five stars, great book.
11. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor - A fantasy set in Africa set far in the future, where the Nuru are waging a war against the Okeke. The main character, Onyesonwu, has to come to term with her violent origins and stop a genocide by re-writing the book of rules. It's an intriguing book, especially that the characters and culture are African. I'd give it four stars - it was a bit long in terms of action, but the narrative and descriptions of life in this desert world were wonderful.