The 100 best books of the 21st century

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Thursday February 17, 2022 at 6:46pm
Dazzling debut novels, searing polemics, the history of humanity and trailblazing memoirs ...

100

I Feel Bad About My Neck

by Nora Ephron (2006)

Perhaps better known for her screenwriting (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Heartburn), Ephron’s brand of smart theatrical humour is on best display in her essays. Confiding and self-deprecating, she has a way of always managing to sound like your best friend – even when writing about her apartment on New York’s Upper West Side. This wildly enjoyable collection includes her droll observations about ageing, vanity – and a scorching appraisal of Bill Clinton.
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99

Broken Glass

by Alain Mabanckou (2005), translated by Helen Stevenson (2009)

The Congolese writer says he was “trying to break the French language” with Broken Glass – a black comedy told by a disgraced teacher without much in the way of full stops or paragraph breaks. As Mabanckou’s unreliable narrator munches his “bicycle chicken” and drinks his red wine, it becomes clear he has the history of Congo-Brazzaville and the whole of French literature in his sights.
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Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the 2011 film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the 2011 film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Photograph: Allstar/Sony Pictures Releasing/Sportsphoto Ltd

98

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

by Stieg Larsson (2005), translated by Steven T Murray (2008)

Radical journalist Mikael Blomkvist forms an unlikely alliance with troubled young hacker Lisbeth Salander as they follow a trail of murder and malfeasance connected with one of Sweden’s most powerful families in the first novel of the bestselling Millennium trilogy. The high-level intrigue beguiled millions of readers, brought “Scandi noir” to prominence and inspired innumerable copycats.
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