The 21st Century's 12 Greatest Novels by BBC Poll

The BBC polled a number of book critics to determine the greatest novels of the current century so far.

  1. 1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    Image of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) is a best-selling novel written by Dominican-American author Junot Díaz. Although a work of fiction, the novel is set in New Jersey where Díaz was raised...


  2. 2. The Known World by Edward P. Jones

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    The Known World is a 2003 historical novel by Edward P. Jones. It was his first novel and second book. Set in antebellum Virginia, it examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free...


  3. 3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

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    Wolf Hall (2009) is a Man Booker Prize-winning novel by English author Hilary Mantel, published by Fourth Estate. Set in the 1520s, it is about Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the Tudor court of...


  4. 4. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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    Gilead is a novel written by Marilynne Robinson and published in 2004. It won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel is the fictional auto...


  5. 5. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

    Image of The Corrections

    The Corrections is a 2001 novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It revolves around the troubles of an elderly Midwestern couple and their three adult children, tracing their lives from the mid...


  6. 6. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

    Image of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a 2000 novel by American author Michael Chabon that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. The novel follows the lives of the title characters, a C...


  7. 7. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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    Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an ageing former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Benni...

    - Google

  8. 8. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel by Ben Fountain

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    A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed ...

    - Google

  9. 9. Atonement by Ian McEwan

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    Atonement is a 2001 novel by British author Ian McEwan. It tells the story of protagonist Briony Tallis's crime and how it changes her life, as well as those of her sister Cecilia and her lover Rob...


  10. 10. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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    Half of a Yellow Sun is a novel that was written by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was first published in 2006 by Knopf/Anchor and tells the story of two sisters Olanna and Kainene du...


  11. 11. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

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    This may be the first novel ever written that truly feels at home in our borderless, globalized, intermarried, post-colonial age, populated by "children with first and last names on a direct collis...

    - Time

  12. 12. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

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    Middlesex is a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was published in 2002 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003. The narrator and protagonist, Calliope Stephanides (later called "Cal"), an in...


  13. 13. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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    One of The New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Washington Post Notable...

    - Google

  14. 14. 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...


  15. 15. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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    A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style le...

    - Google

  16. 16. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

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    The Line of Beauty is a 2004 Booker Prize-winning novel by Alan Hollinghurst. Set in the United Kingdom in the early to mid-1980s, the story surrounds the post-Oxford life of the young gay prota...


  17. 17. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    Image of The Road

    The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey taken by a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blast...


  18. 18. NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith

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    New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012 “A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smith’s much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW...

    - Google

  19. 19. 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...


  20. 20. The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard

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    A Great Writer's Sweeping Story of Men and Women Struggling to Reclaim Their Lives in The Aftermath of World Conflict. The conflagration of her title is the Second World War. In war-torn Asia an...