In Which These Are the 100 Greatest Novels by ThisRecording.com

ThisRecording.com Editor Alex Carnevale selects his choices for the "100 Greatest Novels of All Time".

  1. 1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  2. 2. The Trial by Franz Kafka

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    Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu...


  3. 3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

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    Swann's Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust's seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr...


  4. 4. The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley

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    The Chaneysville Incident is a 1981 novel by David Bradley. It concerns a black historian who investigates an incident involving the death of his father and a prior incident involving the death of ...


  5. 5. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

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    Largely to amuse herself, Gertrude Stein wrote this book in 1932..using as a sounding board her companion Miss Toklas, who had been with her for twenty-five years. The book is full of the most luci...


  6. 6. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

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    I, Claudius deals sympathetically with the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius and cynically with the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44...


  7. 7. Molloy by Samuel Beckett

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    Molloy is a novel by Samuel Beckett. The English translation is by Beckett and Patrick Bowles.


  8. 8. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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    A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psycholog...


  9. 9. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

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    The story centers on Port and Kit Moresby, a married couple originally from New York who travel to the North African desert accompanied by their friend Tunner. The journey, initially an attempt by ...


  10. 10. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

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    First published in 1908, The Man Who Was Thursday is often described as a metaphysical thriller, but it goes much deeper than that, as the anarchists are not only in a rebellion with the government...

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  11. 11. The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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    The Possessed is an 1872 novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Though titled The Possessed in the initial English translation, Dostoevsky scholars and later translations favour the titles The Devils or Demon...


  12. 12. Ulysses by James Joyce

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    Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...


  13. 13. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

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    Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by "one of the most gripping writers imaginable" (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man?s search for the answer to his life?s ce...


  14. 14. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The novel is presented as a poem titled "Pale Fire" with commentary by a friend of the poet's. Together these elements form two story lines in which both authors are central characters. The int...


  15. 15. Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard

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    Fiercely observed, often hilarious, and “reminiscent of Ibsen and Strindberg” (The New York Times Book Review), this exquisitely controversial novel was initially banned in its author’s homeland. A...

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  16. 16. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

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    The novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more...


  17. 17. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

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    Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during,...


  18. 18. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

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    Shadow of the torturer.; Claw of the conciliator.; Sword of the lictor.; Citadel of the autarch.

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  19. 19. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialized in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formativ...


  20. 20. The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary

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    Joyce Cary wrote two trilogies, or 'triptychs' as he later called them, and both are Faber Finds. The first comprises Herself Surprised (1941), To Be a Pilgrim (1942) and The Horse's Mouth (1944). ...

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  21. 21. Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

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    Disgrace is a 1999 novel by South African-born author J. M. Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature; the book itself won the Booker Prize in 1999, the year in which it was published. ...


  22. 22. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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    Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endu...


  23. 23. Europe Central by William T. Vollmann

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    Europe Central takes place in central Europe in the 20th century, examines a vast array of characters, ranging from generals to martyrs, officers to poets, traitors to artists and musicians. It dea...


  24. 24. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

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    To describe his perennial theme, Lowry once borrowed the words of the critic Edmund Wilson: "the forces in man which cause him to be terrified of himself." You see exactly what he means in this cor...

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  25. 25. Light in August by William Faulkner

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    Lght in August is an exploration of racial conflict in the society of the Southern United States.


  26. 26. V by Thomas Pynchon

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    V. is the debut novel of Thomas Pynchon, published in 1963. It describes the exploits of a discharged U.S. Navy sailor named Benny Profane, his reconnection in New York with a group of pseudo-bohem...


  27. 27. At Swim Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien

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    At Swim-Two-Birds is a 1939 novel by Irish author Brian O'Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien. It is widely considered to be O'Brien's masterpiece, and one of the most sophisticated ex...


  28. 28. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

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    Easy Rawlins, a tough World War II veteran and detective is hired by a financier and gangster to locate Daphne Monet, a search that leads him from elegant board meetings to the raucous jazz joints ...

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  29. 29. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    The Idiot is a novel written by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky and first published in 1868. It was first published serially in Russian in Russky Vestnik, St. Petersburg, 1868-1869. The Idiot...


  30. 30. Mating by Norman Rush

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    Mating is a novel by American author Norman Rush. It is a first-person narrative of an unnamed American anthropology graduate student in Botswana around 1980. It focuses on her relationship with Ne...


  31. 31. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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    Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison...


  32. 32. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

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    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dram...


  33. 33. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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    A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America’s most enduring authors In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden "the first book," and indeed it ...

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  34. 34. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

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    Acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II, The Tin Drum is the autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and...


  35. 35. Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

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    Janey Smith keeps a journal of her dreams and experiences as she is rejected by her father, kidnapped by thieves, and sold into prostitution

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  36. 36. Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

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    When La Maga, his mistress, disappears, Horacio Oliveira, an Argentinian writer living in Paris, decides to return home to Buenos Aires.

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  37. 37. Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz

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    Ferdydurke is a novel by the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, published in 1937. Gombrowicz himself wrote of his novel that it is not "... a satire on some social class, nor a nihilistic attack ...


  38. 38. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence

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    Set in the rural midlands of England, The Rainbow revolves around three generations of the Brangwen family over a period of more than sixty years, setting them against the emergence of modern Engla...


  39. 38. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

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    Perhaps no other of the world’s great writers lived and wrote with the passionate intensity of D. H. Lawrence. And perhaps no other of his books so explores the mysteries between men and women–both...


  40. 39. 2666 by Roberto Bolano

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    2666 (2004) is the last novel written by Chilean-born novelist Roberto Bolaño. Depicting the unsolved and ongoing serial murders of Ciudad Juárez (Santa Teresa in the novel), the Eastern Front in W...


  41. 40. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

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    The Fixer is a 1966 novel by Bernard Malamud inspired by the true story of Menahem Mendel Beilis, an unjustly imprisoned Jew in Tsarist Russia. The notorious "Beilis trial" of 1913 caused an intern...


  42. 41. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima

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    Mizoguchi has been mentally troubled since he witnessed his mother's infidelity in the presence of his dying father. Mizoguchi feels utterly abandoned and alone until he becomes a pdest at Kinka-ku...

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  43. 42. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

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    The Book Of Disquietude or The Book of Disquiet (Livro do Desassossego in Portuguese), published posthumously, is one of the greatest works by Fernando Pessoa. It is signed under the semi-heteronym...


  44. 43. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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    The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...


  45. 44. Murphy by Samuel Beckett

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    Edited by J. C. C. Mays Murphy, Samuel Beckett's first novel, was published in 1938. Its work-shy eponymous hero, adrift in London, realises that desire can never be satisfied and withdraws from li...

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  46. 45. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

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    New races of man had evolved, new species of beast; science had vanished and magic had arisen to dominate the twilight of our world as it dominated the earth's morning. The Dying Earth is Jack Vanc...

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  47. 46. Augustus by John Williams

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    Augustus tells the story of Augustus, emperor of Rome, from his youth through old age.


  48. 47. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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    The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consi...


  49. 48. Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson

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    "Wittgenstein's Mistress" is a novel unlike anything David Markson -- or anyone else -- has ever written before. It is the story of a woman who is convinced -- and, astonishingly, will ultimately c...

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  50. 49. The Castle by Franz Kafka

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    The Castle is a novel by Franz Kafka. In it a protagonist, known only as K., struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle who govern the village where he wants to work as a la...


  51. 50. Correction by Thomas Bernhard

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    Correction is a novel by Thomas Bernhard, originally published in German in 1975, and first published in English translation in 1979 by Alfred A. Knopf. It is a remarkable work, formally innovative...


  52. 51. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

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    In a haunting psychological tale of despair and freedom, Macabea is ugly, underfed, sickly, and unloved yet she fascinates Rodrigo because she is unaware of how unhappy she should be

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  53. 52. Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

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    Goodbye, Columbus (1959) is the title of the first book published by the American novelist Philip Roth, a collection of six stories. In addition to its title novella, set in New Jersey, Goodbye,...


  54. 53. The Emigrants by Winfried Georg Sebald

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    Four narratives weave history and fiction together as refugees from the Holocaust remember their experiences.

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  55. 54. The Ambassadors by Henry James

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    This dark comedy, one of the masterpieces of James' final period, follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of his widowed fiancée's supposedly wayward son. Streth...


  56. 55. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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    Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. Waugh wrote that the novel "deals with what is t...


  57. 56. The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese by Cesare Pavese

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    "There is only one pleasure, that of being alive. All the rest is misery," wrote Cesare Pavese, whose short, intense life spanned the ordeals of fascism and World War II to witness the beginnings o...

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  58. 57. Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars

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    At once truly appalling and appallingly funny, Blaise Cendrars's Moravagine bears comparison with Naked Lunch—except that it's a lot more entertaining to read. Heir to an immense aristocratic fortu...

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  59. 58. A New Life by Bernard Malamud

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    Sy Levin, a high school teacher beset by alcohol and bad decisions, leaves New York for the Pacific Northwest to start over, imagining that an extraordinary new life awaits him there. Soon after ar...

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  60. 59. JR by William Gaddis

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    A great masterpiece by William Gaddis, with a new introduction by Rick Moody. Winner of the 1976 National Book Award, J R is a biting satire about the many ways in which capitalism twists the Ameri...

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  61. 60. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

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    Memoirs of Hadrian is a novel by the French writer Marguerite Yourcenar about the life and death of Roman Emperor Hadrian. The book was first published in France in French in 1951 as Mémoires d'Had...


  62. 61. The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa

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    Grande Sertão: Veredas (Portuguese for Big Backcountry: Tracks, English translation: The Devil to Pay in the Backlands) is an influential novel published in 1956 by the Brazilian writer João Guimar...


  63. 62. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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    The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa...


  64. 63. The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

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    Populated with vibrant characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backd...

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  65. 64. The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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    Winter is an Earth-like planet with two major differences: conditions are semi arctic even at the warmest time of the year, and the inhabitants are all of the same sex. Tucked away in a remote corn...

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  66. 65. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

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    Love Medicine is Louise Erdrich’s first novel, published in 1984. Each chapter is narrated by a different character. These narratives are very conversational, as if the narrators were telling a st...


  67. 66. Froth on the daydream by Boris Vian

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    Froth on the Daydream (French: L'Écume des Jours) is a 1947 novel by the French author Boris Vian. It tells the story of a man who marries a woman, who develops an illness that can only be treated ...


  68. 67. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

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    Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...


  69. 68. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

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    Set in the last century, this novel tells the story of a family of English children who, on being sent by their parents back to England from Jamaica, fall into the hands of pirates. As this voyage ...


  70. 69. Amerika by Franz Kafka

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    Karl Rossman has been banished by his parents to America, following a family scandal. There, with unquenchable optimism, he throws himself into the strange experiences that lie before him as he slo...

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  71. 70. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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    It follows the life of Macon "Milkman" Dead III, an African-American male living in Michigan, from birth to adulthood. The main theme in the novel is Milkman's quest for identity as a black man in ...


  72. 71. Amongst Women by John McGahern

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    Amongst Women is a novel by the Irish author John McGahern (1934-2006). The novel tells the story of Michael Moran, a bitter, ageing Irish Republican Army (IRA) veteran, and his tyranny over his wi...


  73. 72. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

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    On Luna - an open penal colony of the twenty-first century - a revolution is being plotted. The conspirators are a strange assortment: an engaging jack-of-all-trades, his luscious blonde girlfriend...

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  74. 73. The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin

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    Eamon Redmond is a judge in Ireland’s high court, a completely legal creature who is just beginning to discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With effortless fluency, Col...

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  75. 74. An Accidental Man by Iris Murdoch

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    A scintillating novel of fate, accidents, and moral dilemmas Set in the time of the Vietnam War, this story concerns the plight of a young American, happily installed in a perfect job in England, e...

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  76. 75. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

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    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book with text by American writer James Agee and photographs by American photographer Walker Evans first published in 1941 in the United States. The title is from ...


  77. 76. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy

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    Suttree is a semi-autobiographical novel by Cormac McCarthy, published in 1979.


  78. 77. Cities of the Red Night: A Novel by William S. Burroughs

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    Clem Snide, a private detective, has to solve a case of ritual murder. In the Gobi Desert 100,000 years ago, a red virus has erupted. And in the 18th century, gay pirates have set up their own repu...

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  79. 78. Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee

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    Life & Times of Michael K is a 1983 novel by South African-born author J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2003. The book itself won the Booker Prize for 1983. The n...


  80. 79. My Life and My Life in the Nineties by Lyn Hejinian

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    Lyn Hejinian is among the most prominent of contemporary American poets. Her poem My Life has garnered accolades and fans inside and outside academia. First published in 1980, and revised in 1987 a...

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  81. 80. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

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    From the esteemed author of The Age of Innocence--a black comedy about vast wealth and a woman who can define herself only through the perceptions of others. Lily Bart's quest to find a husband who...


  82. 81. The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis

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    Charles Highway, a precociously intelligent and highly sexed teenager, is determined to sleep with an older woman before he turns twenty. Rachel fits the bill perfectly and Charles plans his seduct...

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  83. 82. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

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    Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor's astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending strug...


  84. 83. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

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    A classic work that has charmed generations of readers, this collection assembles Carson McCullers’s best stories, including her beloved novella “The Ballad of the Sad Café.” A haunting tale of a h...

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  85. 84. Sweet Days of Discipline by Fleur Jaeggy

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    The story of a fourteen-year-old girl living in a bording school in postwar Switzerland.

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  86. 85. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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    The Remains of the Day (1989) is the third published novel by Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro. The Remains of The Day is one of the most highly-regarded post-war British novels. It won the B...


  87. 86. I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé

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    This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the ...

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  88. 87. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

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    'Our Lady of the Flowers', which is often considered to be Genet's masterpiece, was written entirely in the solitude of a prison cell. the exceptional value of the work lies in its ambiguity.

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  89. 88. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

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    Ruth narrates the story of how she and her younger sister Lucille are raised by a succession of relatives in the fictional town of Fingerbone, Idaho (some details are similar to Robinson's hometown...


  90. 89. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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    Rebecca is considered to be one of her best works. Some observers have noted parallels with Jane Eyre. Much of the novel was written while she was staying in Alexandria, Egypt, where her husband wa...


  91. 90. Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

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    The star in this hair-raising novel is Alberto Ruiz-Tagle, an Air Force pilot who exploits the 1973 coup in Chile to launch his own version of the New Chilean Poetry, a multimedia enterprise that s...

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  92. 91. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

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    The Big Sleep (1939) is a crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first in his acclaimed series about hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe. The work has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and a...


  93. 92. The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

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    An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel–part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis-that leaps headlong into the malaise of contemporar...

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  94. 93. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

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    It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by Will...

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  95. 94. The Waves by Virginia Woolf

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    The Waves, first published in 1931, is Virginia Woolf's most experimental novel. It consists of soliloquies spoken by the book's six characters: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis.[1]...


  96. 95. Stoner by John Williams

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    William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literatur...

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  97. 96. A Violent Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini

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    Not far from tourist Rome are the slum suburbs. Here immigrants lured to the capital by promises of work, gather and make accommodation with the modern world. A new generation emerges, brutal, vuln...

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  98. 98. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

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    Voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association in 1990, Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must ...

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  99. 99. The Moon and the Bonfires by Cesare Pavese

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    An orphan rescued from death by a farm family returns to Italy from America after World War II with money in his pockets, but wealth cannot protect him from the harsh realities of life. Original.

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  100. 100. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

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    The Blind Assassin is an award winning, bestselling novel by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It was first published by McClelland and Stewart in 2000. Set in Canada, it is narrated from the pr...