Alex Preston’s best fiction of 2017

George Saunders’s moving Booker-winner lived up to his masterful short stories, Salman Rushdie turned his gaze on America, several debuts dazzled, and then there was Hollinghurst and Pullman…

This was the year in which George Saunders – long recognised as one of the masters of the short story – took on the novel. Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury £18.99), set in a Washington cemetery over the course of one tragic night, was a worthy winner of the Man Booker. Focusing on Lincoln’s grief at the death of his beloved son, Willy, the story is narrated by the carnivalesque ghouls who inhabit the graveyard. It’s as wildly imaginative and profoundly moving as anything I’ve read for a long time. Joining Saunders on the shortlist was another Great American Novel, Paul Auster’s 4321 (Faber £20). While it wasn’t roundly praised by critics, it feels like the kind of book that will ...