Like Jacob Marley in Ebenezer Scrooge’s home, ghosts showed up in many of this year’s best books.
There are the graveyard spirits in George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo” and deceased relatives along for the ride in Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing.” Arundhati Roy also sets part of “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” in a cemetery, while Roxane Gay’s memoir “Hunger” evokes the long-lasting effect of a past trauma.
Nonfiction books such as “Lost Treasures of St. Louis” and “Hidden History of Downtown St. Louis” remind us that pictures and stories of the past can conjure a sense of loss — but also cherished memories. Of course, biographers and historians, too, bring long-gone people back to life.
In this roundup of Post-Dispatch reviewers’ favorite books in 2017, we offer 25 fiction and 25 nonfiction titles. The list is, of course, personal and subjective, winnowed down from several hundred titles reviewed or discussed in these pages.
Although this year’s selection seems particularly full of otherworldly settings or past events, every year authors do tend to remind us that the ghosts of history and family memories remain relevant. And in the hands of the best writers, from Charles Dickens to Jesmyn Ward, stories of spirits provide hours of pleasant company.
Contributors: Harper Barnes, Tim Bross, Repps Hudson, Lauren LeBlanc, Harry Levins, Joseph Losos, Bill McClellan, Sarah Bryan Miller, Jody Mitori, Gail Pennington, Kelsey Ronan, Amanda St. Amand, Holly Silva, Dale Singer, Calvin Wilson and wire services.