The best fiction books of 2015

Here are our top ten fiction books of the year, voted for by Readings staff. Displayed in no particular order.


The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (translated by Ann Goldstein)

Rumour has it Richard Flanagan only allows himself to read six pages a day of Ferrante. He’s more restrained than me, not to mention the many other Ferrante fans I know. I did to The Story of the Lost Child, the final book in the Neapolitan series, the same thing I did with the preceding three instalments: wolfed it down. It’s always sad to come to the end of something you’ve treasured, but these brilliant books more than merit a second, Flanagan-esque, reading.

Joe Rubbo

(Note: this is the fourth and final book of a series that begins with My Brilliant Friend.)


A Guide to Berlin by Gail Jones

A Guide to Berlin is Gail Jones’ sixth novel and it is a masterpiece. Cass, a young Australian woman, arrives in Berlin in the middle of a cold winter, and, after a chance meeting, finds herself a member of a group of strangers who meet regularly to tell stories about themselves in honour of their shared devotion to Vladimir Nabokov. With complex, fascinating layers, this is a beautifully constructed novel that builds slowly to its horrific and violent conclusion.

Mark Rubbo


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life is a novel that celebrates enduring friendships. The book details the lives of four college graduates in New York for over thirty years, and by the conclusion I felt that I’d befriended, and lived every moment with these exceptional men. The book also explores the importance of the arts (acting, writing, painting, creating) in life, and through the central character, the devastating effects of childhood trauma. It is just amazing, and my standout novel of the year.

Annie Condon


Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman

This collection of short stories offers an effortless and intelligent read. Set in Melbourne, San Francisco and New York, the stories are connected by a common theme – young women and adolescent girls who are coming into their own and negotiating the terms of their sexuality. Whether you can recognise or relate to the characters and their experiences, or behold them with voyeuristic unease or a sort of anthropological fascination, Hot Little Hands demands an audience.

Amy Vuleta


Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

A portrait of a marriage, first from his side and then hers, Fates and Furies is a richly-layered novel that stayed with me long after finishing the final page. Lauren Groff’s prose is enthralling, while the plot – revenge, secrets, family feuds – is that of a Greek tragedy or soap opera. In between these ‘big’ plot machinations, Groff vividly recreates the small and humdrum moments that make up a relationship, and ultimately define it.

Bronte Coates


Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson

Fever of Animals finds a young man at a crossroads, chasing ghosts: ‘I was twenty-seven years old, and I was no longer an artist …’ The loss of his youth, the shadow of his father and the spectre of his ex-girlfriend all billow and recede through the book in spite of Miles’ core purpose – to hunt down the obscure artist of a more obscure painting. It is a beautiful and sure novel and a potent examination of insecurity and self.

Tom Hoskins


Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

Preparation for the Next Life is an incredible debut novel about the fragile beauty of a relationship between two people who are only just holding onto existence in New York City. It’s a grand writing achievement, an amazing reading experience that is tough and emotionally draining (and upsetting) at times, and has an ending that totally did me in. Without doubt one of the highlights of my 2015 reading year, and honestly one of the best books I’ve read in the last decade.

Alison Huber


Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan

An epic fable, full of dark magic, hyperbole and gratuitous violence, that intertwines Indonesia’s torrid transition out of colonialism with the tragic tale of infamous prostitute Dewi Ayu and her cursed family. Kurniawan’s blend of the horrible and the absurd is like nothing I’ve read before, and thrusts Indonesian literature into the spotlight in a powerful way.

Alan Vaarwerk


Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen’s Purity was one of the most highly anticipated novels of 2015 and it does not disappoint. Purity is Franzen at his best; an epic and morally complex novel that is ambitious and utterly compelling … all 600-odd pages of it! It is a complicated and contemporary novel of secrets, manipulations and lies with multilayered characters, plots and subplots. For lovers of modern, clever (and this novel is oh so clever!) American fiction, Purity is a must-read.

Danielle Mirabella


The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

One of the best books I’ve read in years and one that will be dissected and praised for decades to come, Charlotte Wood’s fifth novel is a haunting vision of a dystopian present and an allegory of patriarchal complexities. Her rhythmic prose ties you to each page, mixing images of brutality, nurture, survival, and sex to paint a sincere portrait of the modern feminine condition.

Jemima Bucknell

… and one special honorable mention!


The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop

As the winner of the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, we deemed Stephanie Bishop’s exquisite novel The Other Side of the World as ineligible to be included in the Readings top 10 fiction, but you already know how much we love it.

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A Guide to Berlin

A Guide to Berlin

Gail Jones

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