These are the best books I read in 2008.
Alaa al Aswamy- "Chicago"--excellent novel about Egyptian graduate students and professors in Chicago caught between pull of Egyptian and American cultures
Nadeem Aslem--"The Wasted Vigil"--tragic novel about the waste of lives of the Afghan 30-year war
Po Bronson- "Bombadiers"--novel that delves into psychology of corrupt bond traders in an investment bank-
Pat Dillon- "The Last Best Thing"--funny satire about excesses of Silicon Valley
during the dot.com era
Nuruddin Farah- "Links," gripping, fascinating novel about people who help give each other hope, love, and refuge during civil war in Somalia in 1990s
Michael Frayn--"Spies"--novel set in Britain during World War II about two boys whose search for spies lead to disaster- lovely Proustian recalling of childhood
Joyce Carol Oates- "The Falls"--novel about Love Canal, environmental disaster,
an American family destroyed and then redeemed.
Ellen Ullman- "The Bug"---excellent novel delving into psychology of computer programmer and tester searching for elusive computer bug- makes poetry out of computer programming!
Gilgamesh--great 1st epic in the whole world from ancient Sumer in the modern day Iraq about loss of best friend and becoming human
Mahmoud Darwish-"Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems," wonderful selection from Palestinian poet who was the voice of Palestine
Saadi Yousef-"Without an Alphabet, Without a Face: Selected Poems" - heartbreaking poems by leading Iraqi poet
Paulina Borsook- Cyberselfish- extended essay critical of selfishness permeating Silicon Valley culture
V.S. Naipul- The Writer and His World- great essays by Nobel Laureate from Trinidad in Carribbean- essays about Caribbean and Argentinian politics of 1960s-1990s are brilliant
Pat Welch- Southern California Gardening- great book that helped me start my first vegetable garden in Los Angeles-- a real treasure for all L.A. gardeners