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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.
July 2011 Guest Editor Alexander McCall Smith on The Towers of Trebizond This is a humorous classic that is largely ignored today but which is still as amusing as it was when it was first published. It has a classic first line, never since equalled.
October 2014 Guest Editor Cecelia Ahern on The Celestine Prophecy... The main character goes on a journey to find and understand a series of nine spiritual insights on an ancient manuscript in Peru. It’s a first person narrative of the main character’s spiritual awakening as he goes through a period of transition in his life. It discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas. I read this when I was twenty-one and going through a period of change and it really spoke to me and opened my mind. It was given to me by someone who read it during a time of change in their own life and I do the same to others. I’d like to read it again and see how it impacts me now.
A great teenage classic since its first publication in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is now 60 years old. Holden Caulfield is the ultimate outsider; he is expelled from school, falls out with his friends and finally suffers a nervous breakdown. The book is a scathing attack on American society in the 1950’s seen through the eyes of one the most fascinating central characters ever created. Originally banned because of liberal use of profanity and powerful portrayal of teenage angst, The Catcher In The Rye has now been deemed essential reading for growing-up. Shortlisted for the 2009 Penguin Orange Readers' Group Book of the Year.
May 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Nicci French...I have never met anyone who has read E Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News and not fallen in love with it. It has an odd cast of characters, awkward, bruised, unnoticed and failed. Without a drop of sentimentality, it is a miracle of storytelling.’ The Lovereading view... This novel has become a modern classic and deservedly so. Telling the story of Quoyle, who on the death of his wife moves the farthest reaches of Newfoundland. Tear and laughter abound in this story of a man trying to piece his life back together in the harsh but beautiful backdrop of Newfoundland. If you have yet to discover the joys of this novel rush and buy your copy now.
Shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize. Following the life of a cruel and eccentric artist, Hurtle Duffield, who dissects all he meets , expressing his thoughts through his art. An interesting and sometimes shocking book, it will keep you gripped.
Widely regarded as one of Edith Wharton's greatest achievements, The Age of Innocence is not only subtly satirical, but also a sometimes dark and disturbing comedy of manners in its exploration of the 'eternal triangle' of love. Set against the backdrop of upper-class New York society during the 1870s, the author's combination of powerful prose combined with a thoroughly researched and meticulous evocation of the manners and style of the period, has delighted readers since the novel's first publication in 1920. In 1921 The Age of Innocence achieved a double distinction - it won the Pulitzer Prize and it was the first time this prestigious award had been won by a woman author.
his edition of 32 works combines a number of the English poet's best-known sonnets, ballads, and shorter works, along with her long masterpiece "Goblin Market." Others in this choice collection include "The Convent Threshold," "Up-hill," "Cousin Kate," "Winter: My Secret," "Maude Clare," "No, Thank You, John," and "After Death."
One of Lesley Lokko's favourite books. Author shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2011. April 2011 Guest Editor Lesley Lokko on David Malouf... For the most poetic, empathetic glimpses into the minds of men, the Australian, part-Lebanese, part-Jewish writer who’s now in his seventies is absolutely top of my list. Remembering Babylon, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker, is one of my all-time favourite books. It’s the story of a young castaway who is taken in by an Aboriginal clan and who stumbles across a European settlement by chance. It’s the story of an isolated community, full of prejudice and suspicion, and yet capable of great love and tenderness. Magical, in a word. Like the best fiction, Malouf showed me a world I knew nothing about and inspired me to do the same.
This is Helen Dunmore’s first novel and although some of her later novels have been more widely read and more obvious commercial bestsellers, this one is an outstanding piece of writing that will truly stand the test of time. During World War I, D.H. Lawrence and his wife moved to Cornwall where they became the subject of intense suspicion from the locals and this forms the inspiration for the novel centering on Clare, a young girl who comes under the influence of the Lawrences. Dunmore is superb at evoking characters from the past and yet making you feel relaxed in their company and the situations these characters are found in are captured perfectly as well.
One of Carol Drinkwater's favourite books. May 2011 Guest Editor Carol Drinkwater on The House of the Spirits... Since discovering this book, I have bought every Allende, but for me this remains her finest. It recounts the horrors of living under Pinochet’s regime in Chile. At the heart is a family’s story. Allende paints a world that is magical, epic, heartrending, harrowing. A masterpiece. The Lovereading view... Spanning four generations, Isabel Allende's family saga is populated by an often eccentric cast of characters. Together, men and women, spirits, the forces of nature and of history, converge in a brlliantly realised novel.
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.