Best of 1991

FICTION

1 THE GOLD BUG VARIATIONS by Richard Powers.

Back in the late 1950s, Stuart Ressler was one of the eager young scientists trying to crack the genetic code of the DNA molecule. In the mid-'80s, he works the night shift for a computer billing outfit in Brooklyn. What brought Ressler to this dead-end job? That is only one of the questions posed and answered by this demanding, dazzling novel. Also on display are two love stories, two intertwined narratives, vast erudition and a white-knuckled, suspense-filled investigation into the meaning of life.

2. MATING by Norman Rush.

A down-on-her-luck American anthropologist...