Ron Charles is the fiction editor of the Washington Post.
The Washington Post’s best books package and top 10 list can be found here.
1. Explain why your No. 1 book was your favorite title of the year: “Canada,” by Richard Ford. In the quiet, simply written sentences of this profound novel, Ford lays out a tale of one unexceptional family’s disintegration. He sacrifices suspense and all the pyrotechnics of modern fiction for wisdom and raw, natural elegance.
2. What was the strongest debut book of 2012? “The Yellow Birds,” by Kevin Powers.
3. What book sits outside your list, but has either been overlooked or deserves more attention? “Seating Arrangements,” by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf) — a smart, delightful comic novel.
4. Was there one book, either on your list or off your list, fiction or nonfiction, that seems to best encapsulate America in 2012? Lauren Groff’s “Arcadia” captures our painful nostalgia for an idyllic past we never really had.
5. What was the single most memorable character from a 2012 book? Alice Longworth, the sharp-tongued daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, in Thomas Mallon’s “Watergate.”
6. What is the book from 2012, either from your list or not, fiction or nonfiction, that is most likely to join the canon, or still be discussed 20 years from now? (This is a fool’s game!, but I’ll say) “Canada” by Richard Ford.