The Best Fiction of 2014: Ford, Ferrante, Klay, and More

The Daily Beast selects, in no particular order, our nominations for the best stories and novels published in 2014. Also, the best biographies of 2014.

12.07.14 11:45 AM ET

Let Me Be Frank With You
Richard Ford (Ecco)

On of the most subtly comic and unlikely likeable characters in contemporary fiction, the durable Frank Bascombe is back for a fourth go-round—this time in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions)

Perhaps because her works are translated from Italian, or perhaps because her actually identity is unknown, Ferrante’s novels have largely flown under the radar in the U.S. This sensational third novel in her Neapolitan series is a reminder that she is one of the most talented writers working today.

Phil Klay (Penguin Press)

This National Book Award-winning collection of stories by the war veteran Klay “is a clinic in the profanities of war and not a lick of it is gratuitous.”

The Bees
Laline Paull (Ecco)

This arresting debut novel is a daring dystopian story set in a beehive. Think Watership Down meets The Handmaid’s Tale.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
David Shafer (Mulholland Books)

The perfect paranoid fantasy for the literate Rand Paul fan in your household. It is a joy to watch Shafer seamlessly work incisive commentary on contemporary life into a fast-paced spine-chiller.

The latest novel from the Japanese novelist features him at his strangest and his best. The story of a man investigating a long ago betrayal of friendship, the story is part sci-fi, part detective story, part fairy tale quest.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Eimear McBride (Coffee House Press)

A jaw-dropping dive into an Irish girl’s mental and emotional collapse. Readers who can get past the odd structure will be richly rewarded.

All Our Names
Dinaw Mengestu (Knopf)

A haunting story about an African man who leaves a home in tumult, finds love in the Midwestern U.S., only to be burdened by what he left behind. This novel emphatically confirms the promise of Mengestu’s earlier work: He is a masterful storyteller.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

In this touching and beautifully constructed novel, a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy find their lives intersecting in the midst of the German occupation of France during World War II.

Starting Over
Elizabeth Spencer (Liveright)

The latest nine stories from the 92-year-old author of Light in the Piazza are set in the South, and take an unflinching look at family life in variety of guises. One of the stories, “On the Hill,” was deemed “a work of genius.”