Last Night at the Red Lobster by Stewart O'Nan (Closing Time) – because its sympathetic portrayal of a day in the life of restaurant manager Manny DeLeon is a touching ode to the working man.
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (Office Life) – because Ferris perfectly captured the zen of office life with humor and honesty, and did it all while writing in first person plural.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (God's Frozen People)– because I was blown away by Chabon's ability to create an entire alternate universe.
The runners-up are also terrific:
Lush Life by Richard Price (Neighborhood Crime) – because I love cop stories and Price's dialogue is fantastic.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Transplants) - because each story is a little jewel.
Time Will Darken It by Will Maxwell – (Revisiting an Old Friend) - because Maxwell's prose is so beautiful.
Happy New Year - read a good book in 2009!