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This is it. The place for the greatest writing: stories that transcend all other ‘genres’. Literary fiction goes above and beyond any specific genre in order to deliver stories that strike at the heart of what it means to be human.
An idyllic family are shattered by a phone call that reveals a terrible crime, committed years before. Alice Hoffman once again has hit gold with a story that will leave you feeling a plethora of emotions as you watch a family fall apart and the effects it has on all those around them. As always Hoffman captures the mood and atmosphere brilliantly, transporting you right in to this small sleepy town and it’s newfound problems. Highly recommended.
March 2011 Guest Editor Robert Goddard on Para Handy... Between 1905 and his retirement from journalism in 1924, Neil Munro produced 99 short stories for the Glasgow Evening News about the mishaps and misadventures of Para Handy and the crew of the Vital Spark. Ferrying assorted cargoes, some of them living, between Glasgow and the West Highland ports, Para, Dougie the mate, MacPhail the engineer and Sunny Jim the cook (in succession to The Tar) will welcome you aboard whenever you want to escape to their world within a world of scrapes, japes, disagreements and surprising discoveries. As Para himself would say, it’s “chust sublime.”
A struggle between good and evil forms the backbone of yet another awesome book from this South American author. He really is a master storyteller.
June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on The Red Tent... I was so bowled over by this extraordinary novel that when I finished it, I couldn’t speak. For hours. And I wept intermittently, for days. It was bought for me by one of my closest friends – who said I was to buy another copy for a woman I love and admire. Subsequently, I bought seven further copies – and I will buy more! The novel takes as its premise a small and seemingly insignificant verse of the Old Testament pertaining to Dinah, sister of Joseph and the only daughter of Jacob. This novel is fascinating enough just on the historical, archaeological level. But as profound exploration of the relationships and support existing between women it is truly special. It is as contemporary and relevant as it is ancient and fascinating and is perhaps my all time favourite book.
Living in a Newcastle suburb on a steady diet of Bailey's and chips, Rowena Vincent fantasizes about her absent father and the elimination of her mother's new boyfriend. When it becomes obvious she is losing her grip on reality, she is packed off to a teenage therapy group. Meet the Madolescents.
A Room of One's Own, based on a lecture given at Girton College Cambridge, is one of the great feminist polemics, ranging in its themes from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to the silent fate of Shakespeare's gifted (imaginary) sister and the effects of poverty and sexual constraint on female creativity. Three Guineas was published almost a decade later and breaks new ground in its discussion of men, militarism and women's attitudes towards war. These two pieces reveal Virginia Woolf's fiery spirit and sophisticated wit and confirm her status as a highly inspirational essayist. On My Bookshelf by Philippa Gregory... This was recommended to me when I was 23. I remember taking it on a camping holiday and reading it while blowing up the airbed with a foot pump! Woolf says women can’t be expected to work creatively when they have no resources. I felt she explained in a logical way why women’s creativity is not more successful. I gave it to my daughter, because it’s such a powerful read and I wanted to pass that on to her. Philippa Gregory's new book, The White Queen, is out now.
A beautifully written novel of lost love. The end of this book is a complete surprise and will make you want to read the novel all over again with this new perspective. Great storytelling.
A 2011 World Book Night selection. Atwood's Booker prize-winning novel reissued with a striking new jacket along with other titles from Margaret Atwood's backlist. Lyrical, outrageous, formidable, compelling and funny, this is a novel filled with deep humour and dark drama. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selection for this title is: Aldous Huxley.
A 2013 World Book Night selection. There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of 'Jane Eyre'. In this world there are no jet-liners or computers, but there are policemen who can travel across time, a Welsh republic, a great interest in all things literary - and a woman called Thursday Next.
Legendary barfly Charles Bukowski's fourth novel, first published in 1982, is probably the most autobiographical and moving of all his books, dealing in particular with his difficult relationship with his father and his early childhood in LA. Ham on Rye follows the path of Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski through the high school years of acne and rejection and into the beginning of a long and successful career in alcoholism. The novel begins against the backdrop of an America devastated by the Depression and takes the Chinaski legend up to the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Arguably Bukowski's finest novel. With an Introduction by Roddy Doyle who says: 'A scorching account of a childhood, on adolescence, a life of ugliness, pain, escape, alcohol, loneliness. often it's funny - often it's disturbing. Ham on Rye is a powerful book.
April 2012 Guest Editor Paul Torday on Hangover Square... This novel is an atmospheric and gripping evocation of the lost souls that haunt bars and cheap hotels in west London in 1939. The central figure is George Harvey Bone, who is a hopeless drifter, and mentally unstable. He falls for an actress called Netta – herself not much more than a prostitute – and she uses him until his money starts to run out. The novel is often painfully funny but at the same time there is a sense of impending tragedy as George’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic. I love the way the author weaves the drift of the world towards war into the drifting and doomed lives of his characters.
October 2010 Guest Editor Juliet Gardiner on Sword of Honour... I laugh out loud so much that I hardly dare read Evelyn Waugh’s wartime trilogy Sword of Honour in public places. Partly based on Waugh’ own war experience the novels follow the unheroic career of the hapless Guy Crouchback of the Royal Corps of Halbadiersin his tangles with military bureaucracy.
Literary fiction is a bit of a “catch-all” phrase. Some call it “Serious Fiction” but we prefer to think of it as all of the greatest stories ever told, all in one place. This is where you will find literary classics from literary masters past and present.
Why not have a look at our monthly featured titles for inspiration? Revisit old friends? Discover new ones? Or finally read that book that your friends have been banging on about for ages? Whatever your reasons, settle down with your favourite tipple, unwind and open your mind with the home-spun brilliance of authors like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, David Nicholls and Zadie Smith; or those from further afield: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ben Okri, Jostein Gaarder and so many more. There are obviously so many to choose from, you could get lost in the Sea of Choices.