The Greatest Italian, Irish "Fiction" Books Since 2000

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

    This novel tells the story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor neighborhood in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. Their intense, complicated friendship is marked by competition, mutual respect, and deep affection. As they navigate the challenges of adolescence, including family drama, academic struggles, and romantic entanglements, their bond is tested and transformed. The narrative explores themes of female friendship, social class, education, and the struggle for personal autonomy in a patriarchal society.

  2. 2. The Master by Colm Tóibín

    "The Master" is a fictionalized biography of the renowned author Henry James, chronicling his life from 1895 to 1899. The narrative delves into James' personal life, his relationships, and his struggles with his craft. The book reveals his inner thoughts and feelings, his unfulfilled desires, and his deep-seated fears. It also explores his relationships with his family, friends, and some of the most prominent figures of his time. The narrative is a deep, introspective exploration of a complex, introverted character, and the world in which he lived.

  3. 3. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

    A 12-year-old genius and criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short, for a large ransom of gold with the help of his bodyguard, Butler, to restore his family's fortune. In the process, he discovers an underground world of armed and dangerous fairies. The fairies fight back with magic, cunning, and technological weapons leading to a high-stakes battle of wits.

  4. 4. Room by Emma Donoghue

    "Room" by Emma Donoghue is a novel about a young woman named Ma who has been held captive in a small room for seven years with her five-year-old son Jack. The story is told from Jack's point of view as he struggles to understand the world outside of Room and adjust to life after their escape. The novel explores themes of resilience, trauma, and the power of love and imagination.

  5. 5. The Sea by John Banville

    "The Sea" is a profound exploration of memory, grief, and loss. The novel follows the story of a widower who returns to a seaside town where he spent his childhood summers. His present-day experiences are interwoven with memories of a transformative event from his youth involving a wealthy family he befriended. As he grapples with the loss of his wife to cancer, he also deals with the haunting memories of the past. The narrative is a deep dive into the human psyche, exploring themes of love, loss, and the fluidity of time.

  6. 6. The Gathering by Anne Enright

    "The Gathering" is a powerful and evocative family saga set in Ireland, exploring the complex dynamics of a large Irish family following the suicide of one of the siblings. The story is narrated by Veronica, the sister of the deceased, who delves into her family's past, uncovering a traumatic event that has shaped their lives. The narrative is a mix of present events, childhood memories, and imagined scenarios, all of which contribute to a profound exploration of memory, truth, and the bonds of family.

  7. 7. Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

    "Netherland" is a post-9/11 novel set in New York City, which explores the life of a Dutch banker named Hans. After his wife and son move back to London, Hans becomes immersed in the world of cricket, where he befriends a charismatic Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon who dreams of building a cricket stadium in the city. The novel is a meditation on the American Dream, identity, and the immigrant experience, all set against the backdrop of a city and a country grappling with a new reality.

  8. 8. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

    The novel tells the story of a young Irish woman, Eilis Lacey, in the 1950s who, unable to find work at home, is sent to Brooklyn by a helpful priest where she builds a new life. She finds work, studies to become a bookkeeper, and falls in love with an Italian plumber named Tony. However, a family tragedy forces her to return to Ireland, where she must choose between her new life in America and her old life at home.

  9. 9. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

    This novel follows the story of a young boy who moves from Berlin to a house near a concentration camp during World War II. Unaware of the grim reality of his surroundings, he befriends another boy on the other side of the camp fence. The two develop a deep friendship despite the horrific circumstances, leading to a devastating and unforgettable ending.

  10. 10. I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti

    Set in a small Italian village during the scorching summer of 1978, this novel tells the story of a 9-year-old boy who discovers a horrific crime being hidden by the adults in his community. The boy, while exploring an abandoned farmhouse, stumbles upon a young boy being held captive in a hole. As he tries to help the captive boy, he is forced to face the moral complexities of his world and the terrifying realization that his own father might be involved in this cruel act. The story is a poignant exploration of innocence, friendship and the loss thereof, and the harsh realities of adulthood.

  11. 11. Baudolino by Umberto Eco

    Set in the 12th century, the novel follows Baudolino, a self-proclaimed liar and adventurer, as he travels from his home in Italy to the mythical kingdom of Prester John. Along the way, he becomes embroiled in a series of political and religious intrigues, meets a variety of fantastical creatures, and tells a series of increasingly elaborate lies. The narrative is framed as a story Baudolino is telling to a Byzantine historian, adding another layer of unreliability to his already questionable narrative.

  12. 12. City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

    Set in the year 2053, the book is a dystopian tale about the city of Bohane, a place filled with vice, violence, and tribal warfare. The city is controlled by a gangster named Logan Hartnett, who is challenged by his estranged wife Macu and her lover, a rival gang leader. The narrative is filled with colorful characters, rich language, and a unique blend of futuristic and archaic elements, creating a vivid, darkly comic vision of a future Ireland.

  13. 13. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

    "The Neapolitan Novels" is a four-part series that explores the intricate and lifelong friendship between two women from Naples, Italy. The series spans several decades, beginning in the 1950s, and provides a detailed examination of the women's lives, struggles, and the societal pressures they face. The narrative delves into themes of identity, friendship, love, violence, and socio-political changes in post-war Italy. The series is known for its rich character development and vivid portrayal of female friendship.

  14. 14. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

    "Days Without End" is a historical fiction novel that follows the life of an Irish immigrant who enlists in the U.S. Army in the 1850s. The protagonist's experiences include fighting in the Indian Wars and the Civil War, as well as falling in love with a fellow soldier. The novel explores themes of identity, love, and survival in a brutal and unforgiving era of American history.

  15. 15. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

    The novel is a poignant exploration of desire, passion, and the confusion of young love, set during a sun-drenched summer on the Italian Riviera. It follows the blossoming romantic relationship between a precocious 17-year-old boy and a visiting 24-year-old American scholar staying at his parents' villa. As they bond over literature, music, and the languid Italian landscape, their intimacy grows, leading to a deep and transformative affair that will leave an indelible mark on their lives. The story delves into the complexities of emotions and the heartache of remembering a once-in-a-lifetime connection that both defines and haunts them.

  16. 16. A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry

    This novel vividly captures the harrowing experiences of a young Irish soldier caught in the brutal trenches of World War I. As he navigates the horrors of war, he also grapples with the complex political tensions of his homeland, torn between loyalty to the British forces and the rising call for Irish independence. Through his journey, the protagonist confronts the brutal realities of conflict, the bonds of camaraderie, and the personal quest for identity amidst the chaos of war and the shifting landscapes of early 20th-century Ireland. The narrative combines historical detail with profound emotional depth, exploring themes of loyalty, identity, and the devastating impact of war on the human spirit.

  17. 17. Faithful Place by Tana French

    "Faithful Place" is a gripping psychological thriller that follows the story of Frank Mackey, a detective in the Dublin Undercover squad. When a suitcase belonging to his long-lost girlfriend from twenty years ago is discovered in an abandoned house, Frank is forced to confront his painful past and the secrets that tore him apart from his family and the love of his life. As he delves deeper into the mystery, Frank becomes entangled in a web of lies, betrayal, and murder, ultimately leading him to question his own identity and the choices he has made.

  18. 18. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

    The book revolves around a young widow whose life is shattered when her husband dies from a brain tumor. As she struggles with grief and the prospect of moving on, she discovers a series of letters her husband left behind, each ending with "P.S. I Love You." These letters, designed to help her cope with her loss and gradually guide her through her pain, lead her on a journey of rediscovery. Through the tasks and reflections prompted by the letters, she navigates the complexities of love, friendship, and healing, ultimately finding a path toward a new beginning.

  19. 19. That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern

    This book tells the story of a couple who have moved from London to rural Ireland to live a quiet and peaceful life. Their days are filled with simple pleasures and the beauty of the natural world. However, their tranquility is occasionally disrupted by the complex relationships and struggles of their neighbors. The novel offers a deeply moving exploration of love, loss, and the relentless passage of time.

  20. 20. Born Twice by Giuseppe Pontiggia

    The novel centers around a father's profound journey as he navigates the complexities of raising a son with cerebral palsy. The narrative delves into the emotional and social challenges they face, exploring themes of acceptance, resilience, and the redefinition of fatherhood. Through his son's condition, the father confronts his own vulnerabilities and the societal prejudices against disability, ultimately experiencing a profound transformation that leads him to a deeper understanding of love, identity, and the human experience.

  21. 21. A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

    "A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing" is a powerful and experimental novel that delves into the psyche of a young woman as she navigates through a tumultuous and abusive childhood, her complex relationship with her mentally and physically disabled brother, and her own journey towards self-discovery and identity. Written in a unique stream-of-consciousness style, the book explores themes of trauma, sexuality, religion, and resilience, offering a raw and unflinching portrayal of the human experience.

  22. 22. In The Woods by Tana French

    In this psychological mystery, a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad is pulled into a case that unsettlingly intersects with his own past. As a child, he was the sole survivor of a mysterious incident that left two of his friends missing in the woods. Now, with the murder of a young girl in the same woods, he must confront his traumatic memories while trying to solve the case. The investigation becomes increasingly complex, blurring the lines between the detective's professional duties and his deeply personal quest for answers, leading to a chilling exploration of memory, identity, and the darkness that can lurk beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic settings.

  23. 23. Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

    The novel is a stream-of-consciousness narrative that unfolds from the perspective of a deceased middle-aged engineer as he reminisces about his life on All Souls' Day in County Mayo, Ireland. Through a single unbroken sentence, the protagonist reflects on his past experiences, including his family life, work, the complexities of modernity, and the political issues of contemporary Ireland. The narrative weaves together the personal and the political, exploring themes of time, memory, and the interconnectedness of individual lives with the broader societal and environmental forces at play.

  24. 24. The Story Of The Lost Child: Book 4, The Neapolitan Novels: “Maturity, Old Age by Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein

    "The Story of the Lost Child" is the fourth and final book in the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante. The novel follows the lives of two childhood friends, Elena and Lila, as they navigate through adulthood, motherhood, and old age in Naples, Italy. The book explores themes of class, gender, motherhood, and the complexities of female friendships. As the two women grow older, they face challenges that test their friendship and force them to confront the choices they have made in their lives. The novel is a poignant and powerful conclusion to the Neapolitan Novels series.

  25. 25. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

    This novel introduces readers to a world where ancient magic and modern day collide, centered around the life of Nicholas Flamel, a legendary alchemist who possesses the secret to eternal life. When his powerful book, the Codex, is stolen, Flamel and his wife must rely on the help of two teenage siblings, Sophie and Josh Newman, to recover it. The story unfolds across a backdrop of myth and history, weaving together a thrilling adventure that spans across continents and involves figures from lore and legend. As the twins discover their own untapped powers, they become central to the battle between the forces of good and evil, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

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