“I never imagined I would shoot a man…” The best first lines from the past decade

From Amazon – This Week in Books:

It is often said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; but what about first lines? So many classics have become synonymous with their beginnings — and for good reason. Who could ever forget Charles Dickens’ opener in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Or what about Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

The best first lines, in my opinion, both dazzle and invite intrigue: they share a bit about the writing style, give color to the voice, and attempt to arrest your attention and invite you into the world that the author is about to unveil. There is nothing like the excitement of a first line. So in homage, the Amazon Books editors have pulled a few favorites from the past decade. Without further ado…

The Sympathizer

“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.”

The Amazon Books editors named The Sympathizer a Best Book of the Month and a Best Book of 2015, and it also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, an Edgar Award, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal in fiction. The first line says it all — set during the Vietnam War and afterwards, this award-winning novel tells the story of a man playing both sides, who must face the consequences both at home and abroad.


“In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.”

Michael Ondaatje’s most recent novel swept us away — we named it a Best Book of the Month in 2018 — and arrested us with its distinctly dramatic first line, narrated by 14-year-old Nathaniel. Together with his sister, he finds himself living in bombed-out London with two shady characters after the disappearance of their parents at the close of the WWII. As the years go on, Nathaniel learns about the covert goings-on of his mother as a spy, discovering the past was not quite as he remembered it.

Link to the rest at Amazon – This Week in Books

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