Top 10 British, Irish or Commonwealth Novels from 1980 to 2005 by The Observer

The Observer asked 150 literary luminaries to vote for the best British, Irish or Commonwealth novel from 1980 to 2005.

  1. 1. Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

    Image of Disgrace

    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. ...


  2. 2. Money by Martin Amis

    Image of Money

    Money tells the story of, and is narrated by, John Self, a successful director of commercials who is invited to New York by Fielding Goodney, a film producer, in order to shoot his first film. Self...


  3. 3. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

    Image of Earthly Powers

    Earthly Powers is a panoramic saga of the 20th century by Anthony Burgess first published in 1980. On one level it is a parody of a "blockbuster" novel, with the 81-year-old hero, Kenneth Toomey (a...


  4. 3. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

    Image of Midnight's Children

    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...


  5. 3. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Image of The Unconsoled

    The Unconsoled (1995) is a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Cheltenham Prize. It is about Ryder, a famous pianist who arrives in a central European city to perform a concert. However, he appe...


  6. 3. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Image of The Blue Flower

    In eighteenth-century Germany, the impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis seeks his father's permission to wed his true philosophy — a plain, simple c...


  7. 3. Atonement by Ian McEwan

    Image of Atonement

    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...


  8. 8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Image of The Remains of the Day

    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...


  9. 8. Amongst Women by John McGahern

    Image of Amongst Women

    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...


  10. 8. That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern

    Image of That They May Face the Rising Sun

    Joe and Kate Ruttledge, have come to rural Ireland from London in search of a different life. In passages of beauty and truth, the drama of a year in their lives and those of the memorable characte...