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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.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Hardborough becomes a battleground. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice. Click here to read Penelope Fitzgerald's son-in-law discuss her legacy to coincide with the 100th anniversary of her birth.
A collection of 12 stories, with settings ranging from northern California to the hills of eastern Kentucky and the Caribbean island of St Lucia, that explore the twin themes of family ties and the life choices one must ultimately make alone.
February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Anne Tyler... This wonderful American writer gets everything so right about people. She understands just what makes us tick and she observes it all so carefully. She also has a deep and lovely sense of humour. The Accidental Tourist is the perfect novel if you ask me. There’s heartbreaking sadness all the way through as irritatingly uptight, perfectionist Macon tries to come to terms with the death of his son. But then this quirky, loving dog-trainer girl, Muriel Pritchett, is just desperate to get through to him and bring him back to life. It’s so funny, so terribly sad and so true. Just genius. There’s even a Jack Russell.
July 2013 Guest Editor Cath Staincliffe on The Handmaid's Tale... A story about a terrifying dystopian world, ruled by a military and religious dictatorship which is homophobic, racist and misogynistic. Where infertility is rife, the handmaid’s role is to bear children for the ruling class. This chilling book imagines what a backlash to feminism might lead to and though it is horrifying there is also humanity, wit and humour in the writing. One of Hardeep Singh Kohli's favourite books. September 2010 Guest Editor Belle de Jour on Margaret Atwood... Atwood’s books hugely influenced my reading style (though probably not my writing style!). I love the way she weaves research so seamlessly into her stories. In the hands of a lesser writer, some of her books might be mere dystopian sci-fi, but she makes the characters as real as documentary. The Handmaid’s Tale, in particular, influenced a lot how I think about politics, religion, and feminism.
A moving and dignified story of a woman recalling her life after finally being free from the abusive husband who affected so much of her life. May 2010 Guest Editor John Boyne on Roddy Doyle... Watching Doyle’s ascent to both popular and critical acclaim during the 1990s was hugely influential on me as a young Dublin writer. His best books remain the two Paula Spencer novels – The Woman Who Walked Into Doors and Paula Spencer – which are masterclasses in dignity and strength of character.
The events of Pietro Russell's life are told in 26 chapters. From A-Z, each chapter is set in a different place and reveals a fragment of his story. As his memories flicker back and forth through time in his search for a resolution to the conflicts of his life, his story gradually unfolds...
Taut, brooding and densely atmospheric, these stories show us the ways in which murder can arise out of boredom, perversity can result from adolescent curiosity, and sheer evil might be the solution to unbearable loneliness.
April 2012 Guest Editor Paul Torday on Dance to the Music of Time... This is a cheat, because this work consists of twelve novels. But they plot the lives of a group of characters as they weave in and out of each other’s lives in the period from just before the First World through to the nineteen sixties. For me the earlier ones are the best, describing the remorseless rise of the awful Widmerpool, the passionate romance between the narrator and a friend’s sister (somehow more interesting than his own later marriage) and a host of thinly disguised references to contemporary writers, musicians and artists. Fun working out who is who, and beautifully, beautifully written. One of the books that has really influenced my views on writing.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize For the four fraught, mysterious days of her doomed maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic sails towards New York, glittering with luxury, freighted with millionaires and hopefuls. In her labyrinthine passageways are played out the last, secret hours of a small group of passengers, their fate sealed in prose of startling, sublime beauty, as Beryl Bainbridge's haunting masterpiece moves inexorably to its known and terrible end.
A short story collection covering a number of topics and relationships, from the funny to bizarre to ordinary. A great collection from a brilliant writer.
November 2012 Guest Editor Kate Mosse on The Women's Room... The subject of forgotten - or hidden – women’s history is important to me as a writer, especially in Citadel. French’s The Women’s Room is one of those novels that most laid bare the reality of how many women lived – their loves and disappointments, expectations and secret language. A terrific story, a rattling good read, it’s also a reminder of how things that matter in life have – sometimes – both to be fought for and protected.
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.