Well-known novels with two authors?
March 25, 2016 2:12 PM   Subscribe

A review of the recent novel War of the Encyclopaedists, by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite, said "there are precedents for good, competent co-authored novels, but not many." Which got me to thinking; I came up with a few examples and googled up some more (see the "more inside"), and I'm wondering if MeFites can come up with others—examples from outside the Anglo-American literary world will be especially welcome. I'm looking for books that are well known and respected, and were published, let's say, before the turn of the century.

The examples that came immediately to mind were Ilf and Petrov (the classic Ostap Bender novels The Twelve Chairs and The Little Golden Calf) and the Strugatsky brothers (some of the best sf ever written), and a little googling turned up Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (the Martin Beck books) and Ellery Queen... but that's about it as far as famous examples go. I've found lists of YA novels and other recent examples, but the only one that struck me as really notable was The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.
posted by languagehat to Writing & Language (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
2001: A Space Odyssey, more or less.

"It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. Clarke and Kubrick worked on the book together, but eventually only Clarke ended up as the official author" - WP
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:19 PM on March 25, 2016


More recent, but well known and respected, IMO:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Difference_Engine
posted by humboldt32 at 2:20 PM on March 25, 2016


Preston & Child
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:22 PM on March 25, 2016


Do they have to be co-authored or can they be more-authored? If so, what about the Wu Ming/Luther Blissett people? I haven't read any of their work except Q, but it beats just about everything you list except maybe the Strugatsky Brothers all hollow, and I actually like The Talisman.
posted by Frowner at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Dream Park - Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
Difference Engine - William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:26 PM on March 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


The Illuminatus Trilogy, co-written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.
posted by holborne at 2:27 PM on March 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


In Italian, there's Fruttero & Lucentini.
posted by vacapinta at 2:29 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nicci French is the pseudonym of English husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who write psychological thrillers together.’

H. Bustos Domecq (Honorio Bustos Domecq) is a pseudonym used for several collaborative works by the Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares.’
posted by misteraitch at 2:31 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


There are some genre writers who publish under a single name, but are actually two people. Perri O'Shaughnessy, for example, is actually a pair of sisters. Her books aren't necessarily hugely popular or critically acclaimed but they're certainly good and competent.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:33 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Then-married Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris: The Crown of Columbus.
posted by brujita at 2:34 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett wrote The Long Earth Series together before Terry passed away. Very, very enjoyable reads.
posted by Deeleybopper at 2:36 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


James Corey's Expanse novels.
posted by suelac at 2:37 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't know about "well known and respected," but A Nest of Ninnies by poets John Ashbery and James Schuyler is a weird one-off that has something of a cult following.
posted by neroli at 2:40 PM on March 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lucifer's Hammer
posted by gatorae at 2:47 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is a fantastic book by two fantastic authors. Pratchett co-writes with other people and so does Gaiman but this book is the only one I really consider "more than the sum of its parts."
posted by irisclara at 2:47 PM on March 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


War Day and also Nature's End by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka

Article about their collaboration: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20087692,00.html
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:50 PM on March 25, 2016


Mark Twain and Charles Dudley's The Gilded Age, a satirical novel that gave a name to a whole era, sort of like Generation X.
posted by johngoren at 2:59 PM on March 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


... examples from outside the Anglo-American literary world will be especially welcome. I'm looking for books that are well known and respected, and were published, let's say, before the turn of the century

Just searching through a big list of classics turned up these candidates:

Émile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian (1863), Madame Thérèse.
Walter Besant and James Rice (1878), The Monks of Thelema.
George and Weedon Grossmith (1892), The Diary of a Nobody.
Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre (1911), Fantômas.
André Breton and Philippe Soupault (1920), Les Champs Magnétiques.
Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (1932), Mutiny on the Bounty.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:00 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and quite a lot of Alexandre Dumas's novels were collaborations.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:02 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do works which were finished by another after the author died count? The most famous example I can think of is The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek. He died while writing the fourth section, and it was finished by Karel Vaněk.

Mostly this happens in the genre world, but there are other examples than Švejk, a recent notable example being Michael Pietsch finishing David Foster Wallace's Pale King.
posted by Kattullus at 3:05 PM on March 25, 2016


I'm really confused about your "before the turn of the century" specification - there is no commonly accepted meaning of this phrase (and even if there was, which century?)

So, probably too recent, but Ntozake Shange (for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf) and her sister Ifa Bayeza cowrote Some Sing, Some Cry. It's an incredible novel and, if it's not well known enough, it's through no fault of the work.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:06 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, seconding the which century part of Juliet Banana's answer, but from the last century, my favorite co-authored novel, which I think is fairly well known, is King/Straub's fantasy novel The Talisman (see this Wikipedia article) for a fun mention of a novel of the same name from the century before the last century)
posted by missmobtown at 3:20 PM on March 25, 2016


The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
posted by grouse at 3:42 PM on March 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Somerville and Ross wrote a series of books about an Irish RM (resident magistrate) before World War I. They were a pair of cousins, Edith Somerville and Violet Martin (who used the pen name Martin Ross).

Emma Lathen was the pen name of the American writing duo Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Henissart who wrote a well-known mystery series about a Wall Street banker, John Putnam Thatcher.
posted by Azara at 4:04 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a fondness for Heart of the Comet by David Brin and Gregory Benford, about an effort to explore and mine Halley's Comet.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:13 PM on March 25, 2016


Starting about 1940, Sprague DeCamp and Fletcher Pratt wrote a series of five stories about Harold Shea which were excellent. After Pratt died, DeCamp continued the series with several other authors and it became a shared universe.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:29 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Early science fiction writers Eando Binder wrote some of the better stuff of the Hugo Gernsback era (before E. stopped writing and O. Binder took over the pen name), although they've fallen into obscurity these days.
posted by ardgedee at 4:43 PM on March 25, 2016


> Do they have to be co-authored or can they be more-authored?

Good question! I guess more-authored is fine too; I just assumed that once you got beyond two it was probably a stunt.

> There are some genre writers who publish under a single name, but are actually two people.

Sure, like Ellery Queen. That's fine.

> I'm really confused about your "before the turn of the century" specification - there is no commonly accepted meaning of this phrase (and even if there was, which century?)

Sorry, I took it for granted that in this context it would clearly mean "before 2000/1" (depending on your definition of when a century turns), but evidently not, so: that's what I meant! It wasn't intended as a hard limit, more an indication I wasn't that interested in stuff published too recently to have accumulated much of a reputation.

Great stuff, everyone; I'm glad I asked.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 PM on March 25, 2016


You might have noticed that three different Niven works have been recommended so far: he has done a stunning number of quality collaborations; my impression is that this is in part due to him wanting to balance out his somewhat extreme style (Pournelle's contributions are pretty obvious if you read solo stuff from either of them) and in part a kind of master-apprentice Jedi Order thing.

Also, probably half of the people he's written with have done high-quality collaborations with someone other than Niven. I've occasionally contemplated doing a chart showing all the different groupings that have taken place over the last three decades that can somehow be linked to Niven.
posted by SMPA at 6:08 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Tilted World - written by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly.

From Goodreads: Set against the backdrop of the historic 1927 Mississippi Flood, a story of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, dynamite and deluge-and a man and a woman who find unexpected love-from Tom Franklin, author of the bestselling Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and his wife, Pushcart Prize-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly.

I have no idea why I picked up this book because historical fiction is not my thing, but I really enjoyed this.
posted by lyssabee at 6:11 PM on March 25, 2016


Harlan Ellison's book "Partners in Wonder" is a collection of all the collaborations he's done with other writers, and there are a lot of them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:21 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dorris and Erdrich apparently co wrote all their novels when they were married, but credited the one who contributed the most to that particular book. I find their collaboration quite haunting. Their books I've read from that period are terrific and the marriage and Dorris' life ended in somewhat ambiguous but terrible circumstances.
posted by latkes at 8:03 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, jacquilynne reminded me: Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, the creators of the British TV show "Red Dwarf," released their first two novelizations of the series under the name "Grant Naylor."
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:11 PM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


It doesn't quite make your date cut off, but Sorcery and Cecilia.
posted by jeather at 8:33 PM on March 25, 2016


Classic authors Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford collaborated several times, including on the novel Romance.
posted by bertran at 9:13 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Deus Irae is by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny.
posted by town of cats at 10:14 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth.
posted by riddley at 10:54 PM on March 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Harry Harrison & Marvin Minsky, The Turing Option.
Also, some of the last Dick Francis novels were written in collaboration with his son Felix.
posted by bleston hamilton station at 1:49 AM on March 26, 2016


The Peter and the Starcatcher series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Totally non-Dave Barry-like. Kids love them. They're a loose prequel to the Peter Pan stories.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:29 AM on March 26, 2016


This may be a little outside the range, but the comic "Groo the Wanderer" has been a joint effort of Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, Tom Luth, and Stan Sakai since it first began publishing in the early 1980's. The writing is a joint effort of Aragones and Evanier, and has been since the beginning.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:33 PM on March 26, 2016


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