It’s as onerous to write down a page-turner as it’s to write down fiction that brings recent perspective and which means to the world. Reaching each in a single work is a feat achieved by solely one of the best of writers—however the 2010s produced a number of works that may go down in historical past as propulsive and deep, shifting and timeless.

Ten particularly stand out: Jennifer Egan’s A Go to From the Goon Squad and George Saunders’ Tenth of December predicted the close to future with eerie precision. Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing and Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys mined the current previous to devastating impact. Essentially the most imaginative and absorbing fiction of the last decade drew us in and made us mirror on ourselves—the place now we have been, and the place we should go.

See more: Top fiction books of the decade

Listed here are TIME’s picks for the ten greatest fiction books of the 2010s, so as of publication yr. Additionally learn TIME’s listing of one of the best nonfiction books of the last decade.

A Go to From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (2010)

Jennifer Egan’s A Go to From the Goon Squad feels much more important now than it did when it was first revealed practically a decade in the past. The guide’s mold-breaking construction, which switches between completely different characters with every chapter, has turn into a favourite trick of contemporary novelists. However it’s Egan’s prescience about know-how that has really stood the take a look at of time. One memorable chapter is written solely as a PowerPoint presentation delivered by a daughter about her household, an illustration of the way in which by which know-how filters private tales. She additionally posits a future by which toddlers turn into social media influencers and steer popular culture, a prediction that within the final a number of years has turn into a actuality. However the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has confirmed to be greater than only a formal accomplishment and a bellwether of technological traits. It additionally captures one thing timeless: how growing old, and the methods we try to deal with it, can wreak havoc on human connection.

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My Good Pal, Elena Ferrante (2011)

Two younger women, Lila and Lena, turn into mates when one in all them drops the opposite’s beloved doll into the scariest shaft she will discover and, in fury, the opposite follows go well with. Collectively they need to face their fears and retrieve them. And so begins a story by which the 2 damage, love, goad and envy one another, traversing the spectrum of interpersonal behaviors from cruelty to utter tenderness. One of the crucial dazzling elements of My Good Pal is that readers can by no means inform precisely who’s good and who’s a good friend—and neither can Lila and Lena. Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, with a deep historic understanding of Nineteen Fifties Naples, the guide (just like the three extra installments of the Neapolitan sequence that adopted) was a sensation from its authentic publication in Italian in 2011, not least as a result of the true id of creator Elena Ferrante remains to be unsure. Like her protagonists’, Ferrante’s motives are onerous to determine, however her story is as clear and brutal as falling glass.

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Gone Woman, Gillian Flynn (2012)

Creator Gillian Flynn didn’t invent the unreliable narrator. However earlier than Gone Woman, readers had by no means met a personality fairly like Amy Dunne: provocative, profane, mercurial and absolutely able to delivering a monologue (the notorious “cool lady” speech) for the ages. It’s so much simpler to measure the influence of Gone Woman now than it was in 2012. The novel’s well-known twist, by which it’s revealed that neither Amy or her husband Nick are what they appear, made the story onerous for critics to parse when it was launched. However since then, Gone Woman has outlined a technology’s value of thriller novels and spawned numerous copycats—many with “lady” or “spouse” within the title. Not like a lot of its imitators, Gone Woman severely reckons with sophisticated questions on victimhood, femininity and marriage, set in opposition to the straining backdrop of the Nice Recession. The qualities of thriller—crackling prose, a palpable sense of dread, sharply-drawn characters—are all current in Gone Woman. However Flynn elevates the novel above pulpy cliches, rendering a narrative that’s each a pointy feminist critique and an interesting literary work.

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Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)

A literary prodigy who revealed her first guide, Purple Hibiscus, at age 25, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie cemented her place as one in all her technology’s biggest novelists with Americanah. Its protagonist Ifemelu, just like the creator, is a younger author who travels from her native Nigeria to the U.S. to pursue an elite training—and learns what it means to be a black girl in a rustic constructed on white supremacy. Intertwined along with her story is that of her highschool boyfriend Obinze, whose failed try to affix her places him on a darker, extra harmful path in England. The query of whether or not every is healthier off at residence or overseas hangs over their experiences throughout three continents in what’s each a page-turner and a novel of concepts, a gimlet-eyed evaluation of blackness in America and a heat, witty coming-of-age story about discovering your house in a world that simply retains getting larger. Americanah stood out in a decade when artwork that probed id basically and race relations particularly helped outline the phrases of a rightfully impassioned cultural dialog.

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Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (2013)

Ursula Todd dies again and again in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life—from falling off a roof, from drowning, from succumbing to the flu. However the deaths are only a system: this can be a guide about dwelling, and above all, discovering new methods to do it till you lastly get it proper. Atkinson made her title as a thriller author, however Life After Life defies style. The novel spans greater than half a century, and Atkinson’s shifts in time deepen her storytelling, permitting readers to expertise the consequences of the sprawling forged of characters’ decisions—a wedding deserted or saved, a soldier who survives or perishes. It’s additionally a defining account of wartime London, as Ursula experiences the devastation of the Blitz from varied views, highlighting the senselessness of bombing raids. The story of her a number of lives is each shifting and lighthearted, stuffed with comedian asides and evocative language about life’s many joys and sorrows. Regardless of the apparent tragedy, Ursula’s unconventional existence is in the end affirming, as she reminds us that “we should always attempt to do our greatest,” at the same time as we face our personal mortality.

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Tenth of December, George Saunders (2013)

Nice writers hardly ever earn their place in historical past via quick tales. Among the many exceptions are Poe, Chekhov, Borges, Munro—and, for the reason that publication of his fourth assortment Tenth of December in 2013, George Saunders. In 10 immersive fictions that felt present on the time however reveal much more clairvoyance six years on, the longtime Syracuse professor stirs actuality and surrealism into an intoxicating cocktail, mixing sci-fi ideas, human emotion and biting humor. “The Semplica Woman Diaries” imagines a world the place women from creating nations are dropped at America to function dwelling garden decor. “Escape From Spiderhead” takes place at a futuristic jail, the place inmates are used as take a look at topics for medicine designed to make them fall out and in of affection. Every of those darkly comedian tales cuts to the short, underpinned by an pressing ethical consciousness and well-justified anxiousness about what occurs when know-how begins to overhaul humanity. In a tribute for 2013’s TIME 100, Mary Karr known as Saunders “one of the best short-story author in English.” Since then, he has impressed many imitators, however no equal.

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The Sellout, Paul Beatty (2015)

The plot is absurd: narrator and protagonist Bonbon is a quality-obsessed farmer in Dickens, Calif., a primarily African-American and Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. Previously a thriving metropolis, Dickens’ decline has led to its demotion to an unmarked neighborhood, and the narrative is primarily pushed by Bonbon’s try, alongside along with his slave Hominy, to avoid wasting Dickens from additional dissolution by re-segregating the native highschool. As with all nice absurdist and satirical literature, the Man Booker Prize winner is hilarious, not for the sake of snickers, however within the service of delivering scathing truths in regards to the world. Paul Beatty’s sentences burn with the warmth and density of a neutron star, thick with eager social statement, illuminating up to date and historic references, deeply felt rage in opposition to and love for all times in Twenty first-century America and, greater than anything, the form of honed-edge humor that makes you chortle but in addition wish to cry.

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Sing, Unburied Sing, Jesmyn Ward (2017)

Few authors have had a extra spectacular run within the 2010s than Jesmyn Ward. Raised in Mississippi and dedicated to documenting the unacceptable realities of black life within the South, Ward gained the Nationwide Guide Award for her second novel, 2011’s Hurricane Katrina meditation Salvage the Bones. Two years later, she revealed Males We Reaped, a wrenching memoir tracing the deaths of 5 younger black males who performed indelible roles in her life. The capstone to those achievements was 2017’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, which made Ward the primary girl to win two Nationwide Guide Awards for fiction. A lyrical ghost story of a novel, Sing follows a fragile, drug-abusing black girl named Leonie on a street journey along with her two youngsters to convey the children’ white father residence from jail. As that seemingly simple journey grows ever extra arduous, the guide strikes fluidly between the current and the previous, regularly uncovering the race-related trauma that has formed this interracial household.

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Little Fires In all places, Celeste Ng (2017)

Little Fires In all places begins as a whimsical whodunnit—who set fireplace to the house of the rich Richardson household in Shaker Heights, Ohio?—and unfolds right into a dizzying and multifaceted examination of abortion, motherhood, racial id and sophistication warfare. Members of the Richardsons consider that Shaker Heights is an American utopia, however their worldview is challenged when a poor artist and her teenage daughter arrive on the town with their very own conceptions of self-worth and achievement. Romances blossom. Secrets and techniques are swapped. Bitter rivalries kind. As the 2 households turn into deeply entangled in each other’s lives, the variations between them turn into too huge to deal with. Creator Celeste Ng, who lived in Shaker Heights as a toddler herself, weaves a tightly constructed thriller—presently being tailored right into a Hulu miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington—with an unflappable and unsentimental hand. In doing so, she creates a fiery learn that leaves ashes in your mind.

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The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead (2019)

Colson Whitehead is a consummate storyteller, and in The Nickel Boys he wields his mastery over character and narrative in service of dramatizing the American South’s Jim Crow years to piercing impact. His good 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, gained each a Nationwide Guide Award and a Pulitzer Prize, solely the sixth ever to take action—however The Nickel Boys is arguably much more highly effective. Maybe it’s the guide’s proximity to present-day circumstances within the U.S. Studying it in a world only a technology faraway from the traumas of Jim Crow requires participating with the harrowing experiences of the characters, boys at a Florida reform faculty, not because the unlucky consequence of some unknown, antediluvian society however as true to our personal. “A bit of artwork actually works once you see your self in the principle characters and also you see a glimpse of your self within the villains,” Whitehead advised TIME this yr for a canopy story. “You see your self within the minor and main characters the place, however for a quirk of destiny, you can be in there with them—that could possibly be rising up as an African-American male in America.”

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