The Best Books of 2003

By Steve Wasserman

he holiday season is upon us, and from every corner we find ourselves asked to make sense of the avalanche of books that threatens to bury us in tale upon tale. It is, of course, the work of Sisyphus, but we'd have it no other way. More than 100,000 books are anually published in the United states. Here at the Los Angeles Times we have space enough to note and review about 1,500 titles during the year. More nonfiction is published than fiction, and so our reviews follow suit.

Chosing among the universe of the worthy is an inherently fraught process, forcing us to feel much as a World War I surgeon might have felt on the battlefield of Verdun: It's triage every day. Nevertheless, without apology and immodestly, we offer those books that in the opinion of our diverse contributors are among the very best of 2003. We also take this opportunity to single out 20 titles that, in our judgement, are the best of the best.

Ten Little Indians
Sherman Alexie
Grove Press
The Great Fire
A Novel
Shirley Hazzard
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Still Holding
A Novel of Hollywood
Bruce Wagner
Simon & Schuster
By Night in Chile
A Novel
Roberto Bolano
New Directions
The Noonday Cemetery
And Other Stories
Gustav Herling
New Directions
Evidence of Things Unseen
A Novel
Mirianne Wiggins
Simon & Schuster
Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman
The Ecco Press
The Known World
A Novel
Edward P. Jones
Armistad Press
American Woman
A Novel
Susan Choi
Happer Collins
The Life and Adventure of Lyle Clemens
A Novel
John Rechy
Grove Press

Sunday December 7, 2003

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