The Novel Since 1960 - Very Serious Answers Only
November 22, 2022 9:01 AM   Subscribe

I have a book group which reads mostly Very Serious Literary Fiction in English (including in translation) - that is, not SF, detective stories, romance, etc - but our collective expertise gets really spotty after about 1960 and our tastes all differ. We are looking for book recommendations which meet the following requirements:

Overall - if you were constructing an intro seminar called "The Literary Novel Since 1960", what would you include?

Some specifics below:

1. Not extremely popular contemporary best-sellers well known across fields because we've read those! (Eg, Margaret Atwood or Hilary Mantel-level fame)

2. Not genre fiction even if it is very good. Among us, we have enough expertise in SFF, romance, detective stories, etc, to pick out and read relevant examples, which we do on occasion. This includes literary genre fiction like the MaddAddam trilogy. I recognize that "genre" is a vexed category but think of it as "if you described a book, would your clarifying descriptor be a genre, like "a literary science fiction novel"?

3. Not novels that focus on intense friend groups and the fleshing out of their relationships and emotions. These are not enjoyed by the whole group. We would not succeed with The Secret History, A Little Life or books of that general type.

Some post-1960 writers we've enjoyed:

Toni Morrison
Margaret Drabble
James Baldwin
Maxine Hong Kingston
Ralph Ellison
Umberto Eco

Some non-contemporary writers we've enjoyed:
Henry Fielding
Virginia Woolf
Herman Melville
George Eliot
Fyodor Dostoevsky
posted by Frowner to Media & Arts (68 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Renata Adler, especially Speedboat
Italo Calvino
William Gass
Helen Dewitt's The Last Samurai (not Lightning Rods which is.... different)
Jane Smiley
posted by derrinyet at 9:05 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]

John Gardner! Give the Sunlight Dialogues or Mickelson's Ghosts a whirl.
posted by vrakatar at 9:12 AM on November 22

Any Penelope Fitzgerald, perhaps The Beginning of Spring? The Blue Flower is great too, but contains a relationship that can be unpalatable to modern audiences.

Potentially also Janet Frame, though I'm a lot more familiar with her autobiographical work compared to her fiction.
posted by terretu at 9:15 AM on November 22

Have you read Louise Erdrich? If not you totally should! No post-1960 fiction syllabus would be complete without her, IMO.
I'd start with Love Medicine. But wow, did I also just love Shadow Tag.
posted by ojocaliente at 9:16 AM on November 22 [9 favorites]

If Margaret Drabble, then A.S. Byatt.

Emily St. John Mandel writes some genre, but I thought her non-genre The Glass Hotel was excellent (liked it more than I liked her SF).
posted by LizardBreath at 9:22 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Don DeLillo's White Noise, The Names, and Underworld
Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot
Paul Auster's City of Glass
Byatt's Possession
Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being
posted by baseballpajamas at 9:28 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]

Barbara Kingsolver
Ann Patchett
posted by Boogiechild at 9:42 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]

Tommy Orange‘s There, There.
posted by brook horse at 9:42 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Seconding John Gardner. Grendel is a good option if the others suggested are too long.

I'll add
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Cynthia Ozick, The Puttermesser Papers
Colm Tóibín, The Master
Margarent Laurence, The Stone Angel
posted by alicat at 9:44 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres.

Probably yes to Calvino and Kundera. Maybe The Ice Storm by Rick Moody? Or is that too popular?
posted by kevinbelt at 9:47 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz

I would look into the category of postcolonial literature, which I think will have a lot of post-1960 modern classics. E.g., Michael Ondaatje, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Chinua Achebe, V. S. Naipaul.

Slightly more contemporary, but authors I hope will eventually be considered canon - Chimamanda Adichie, Yaa Gyasi, and seconding (despite veering slightly into genre) Emily St. John Mandel.
posted by icy_latte at 9:54 AM on November 22 [13 favorites]

Yes to Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, although I hope you savage the narrator for her homophobia (or at least contextualize it)

Miriam Toews

You might consider looking at the various New York Review of Books editions - I have found tons of good stuff that way in the last 5 years. The comment above recommending Renata Adler made me think of it.

Eve Babitz

Dorothy Baker’s Cassandra at the Wedding

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:55 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Anita Brookner
How about lesser known Hilary Mantel? I loved The Giant, O'Brien.
Marilynne Robinson (maybe too much of a best seller for you?)
Milkman by Anna Burns
Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (translated from German)

I am also a reader of Very Serious Fiction, and I find the Booker Prize lists pretty dependable for finding stuff I like.
posted by FencingGal at 10:02 AM on November 22 [7 favorites]

Siri Hustvedt may be a good choice, though her fiction is very interpersonal.

Same for everything from Katherine Davis; The Girl Who Trod On A Loaf and Duplex are her best works imo.

Wolfgang Herrndorf only wrote one novel, Sand, but it is excellent book club material.

Tatyana Tolstoya's short fiction is excellent, if you're down with shorter pieces. Her most recent collection isn't as hard hitting as the older ones, though.

Katherine Mansfield as well, though her fiction is shorter and doesn't meet the era criteria.

Anna Kavan also wrote short fiction, much of it in the weird fiction direction but as metaphor more than pure fantasy (think Ali Smith's seasonal quartet but weirder) (have y'all read Ali Smith?)

Felipe Alfau is compared to Calvino and Borges a lot; he reads like a masculine Allende to me as well but I've only read Chromos.
posted by Grim Fridge at 10:06 AM on November 22

(UK) Bernardine Evaristo: Girl, Woman, Other. One of my favourites of the last couple years.

(Poland) Olga Tokarczuk: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Great narrative voice.

(Canada) Michael Christie: Greenwood. It’s not genre fiction even though the first and last (short) chapters are set a few years in the future. It’s thoroughly literary fiction, and I loved it.

Seconding Louise Erdrich. I recently read and loved The Sentence.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:10 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
posted by rocketman at 10:11 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage
Barbara Pym, Jane and Prudence
posted by Enid Lareg at 10:19 AM on November 22

Russell Hoban. Riddley Walker is his most well-known adult novel but there are lots of others that are worth reading.

I am a big fan of Annie Dillard's novel The Living.

Seconding A.S. Byatt and Marilynne Robinson.
posted by Redstart at 10:26 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Vikram Seth! A Suitable Boy hits that big chewy 19thC-feeling novel note that your group likes. And I love Golden Gate even if it’s an oddity rather than a literary novel exactly.
posted by LizardBreath at 10:33 AM on November 22

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a bit out of fashion but the advent of magical realism and especially A Hundred Years of Solitude is formally and politically important.
posted by vunder at 10:46 AM on November 22 [9 favorites]

Philip Roth. For his earlier work, Zuckerman Bound; for his later, American Pastoral.

And if you're looking for more ideas, the list of books published by the Library of America might be a good place to start.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:47 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Siri Hustvedt, Paul Auster
posted by Ardnamurchan at 10:50 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Seconding Louise Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver (the recent Demon Copperhead, a modern take on David Copperfield, is excellent), and Ann Patchett. Strongly recommend the Man Booker Prize and the Morning News Tournament of Books as a way to find good literary fiction.
posted by emd3737 at 10:54 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]

You can't talk about contemporary Very Serious Literary Fiction without talking about Jonathan Franzen and The Corrections which went a long way to defining the turn-of-the-20th-Century American literary movement toward realism (and which is just now starting to wane?).
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 11:08 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it counts as genre since it's technically a western but the critic Harold Bloom considered Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy to be the best book since Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
posted by Chenko at 11:21 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

If you're up for trying experimental fiction, Wittgenstein's Mistress blew me away. (I'm not normally a fan of experimental fiction. Also, I wouldn't classify experimental as genre - apologies if you do.)

And another just generally good novel is Edward P. Jones' The Known World.
posted by FencingGal at 11:41 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

You're missing some 90s biggies, especially:

Generation X - Douglas Coupland
Trainspotting - Irvine Welch (or Maribou Stork Nightmares if you want something where you haven't seen the film)
The Wasp Factory (or anything else by) Iain Banks (presumably you know of his sci-fi works as Iain M Banks, but his novels are completely separate and not sci-fi at all)

Seconding lots of suggestions above, especially Don Delillo, Doris Lessing and Gabriel Garcia Marquez
posted by underclocked at 11:42 AM on November 22

Is 1957 too early? If not, I'd recommend Voss by Patrick White.

Further Australian books to recommend - take your pick from almost anything by Richard Flannagan though I strongly suggest the already mentioned The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and Death of a River Guide. Also, The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2000) is a very good read.

A non-Australian recommendation would be Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian; an amazing work of art.
posted by Thella at 12:14 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I prefer more contemporary than post-1960, but in that range other authors I'd put on the list given your already-reads include Colson Whitehead (I think your group might like The Nickel Boys or The Underground Railroad), Edwidge Danticat (The Dew Breaker), Neel Patel (Tell Me How to Be), and Yaa Gyasi (Homegoing).
posted by TwoStride at 12:25 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Some British authors who might fit the bill...

Martin Amis (probably Money or London Fields).

Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange.

Muriel Spark The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series (the later ones, anyway - published between 1951 and the mid-70s)

AS Byatt's quartet (beginning with The Virgin in the Garden.

Will Self - the late trilogy beginning with Ubrella is about as self-consciously Serious Literary Fiction as you will find (other works might be too fantastical?).

Alastair Gray - Lanark (might be too fantastical?)

Is JG Ballard "too sci-fi"? Maybe.

William Golding's Lord of the Flies is admittedly a few years out (published 1954) but included here anyway!
posted by deeker at 12:27 PM on November 22

Penelope Lively? Julian Barnes? Alice Walker?
posted by latkes at 12:42 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Elena Ferrante probably doesn't meet your criteria, but it might be worth perusing her English language publisher, Europa Editions, for contemporary work in translation.
posted by kensington314 at 12:44 PM on November 22

Pat Barker Regeneration
Helen Dunmore The Siege
Doris Lessing The Good Terrorist
Donna Tartt The Secret History
Curtis Sittenfield Prep
posted by Susan PG at 12:52 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I think you have to include someone like Rachel Cusk (Outline). I say this even as I look at your lists and think her work runs contrary to the characteristics your group so far seems to enjoy, precisely because the most recent candidates for inclusion in a seminar like this have largely turned away from those characteristics.

Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping is an early drifter in that direction, but might be more palatable.

Zadie Smith's N.W.
posted by praemunire at 1:11 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

The first names to come to mind were:

Penelope Lively
Ruth Ozeki
David Mitchell (though some of his have elements of fantasy or science fiction)
John Lanchester (though not The Wall, which is dystopian)

... and all four of them are Booker Prize winners or nominees, so I second the recommendations to explore that avenue. Worth looking at the shortlists (or even the longlists), not just the prizewinners. There's both the Booker Prize and the International Booker Prize.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:13 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Jane Gardam, Old Filth
James McBride, Deacon King Kong
Anything by Kazuo Ishiguro
posted by jebs at 1:22 PM on November 22

John Williams is fabulous and I suspect not widely known. Butcher's Crossing (1960) and Stoner (1965) are both excellent.
posted by jabes at 1:28 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
posted by bookworm4125 at 1:34 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Out Stealing Horses by Per Pedersen is excellent.
posted by suelac at 1:41 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

My Name Is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, is one of the most sublime and thought-provoking reads of my life - what is the nature of art?
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 2:04 PM on November 22

Bellow, Bolaño, Mahfouz, Murnane, Perec, Pynchon, & Saramago are some of the bigger names that don't seem to have come up in this thread yet. Nabokov!
posted by kickingtheground at 2:21 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

I am a fan of British author Barbara Pym, who wrote novels published between the 1950s and 1978. The final one, Quartet in Autumn, is my fave. I do not know if they qualify as very serious books, so apologies if these are not up your alley. Canadian author Robertson Davies is a serious deal, or was, according to the Paris Review. I enjoyed at least one of his trilogies. Not genre.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:58 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

  • Akwaekae Emezi
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
  • Celeste Ng
  • nthing Louise Erdrich

posted by spiderbeforesunset at 3:10 PM on November 22

Pat Barker is an exceptional writer; the Regeneration Trilogy is a must-read, and she has many other great novels.
Sophie's Choice, William Styron, and follow it with
The Reader, Bernard Schlink
Geek Love, Katherine Dunn

Consider focusing on Black writers.

Go back and look at Booker Prize and Amer. Book Award nominees and winners and best-of lists.
The 100 best books of the 21st century
Our Top 20 Books from the 21st Century (So Far)
The 21st Century’s 12 greatest novels
A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon
Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
100 Best Novels
100 Years, 100 Novels, One List
posted by theora55 at 3:23 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Came back to this thread because I'd forgotten to mention Krasznahorkai. And Updike. And Mario Vargas Llosa.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:24 PM on November 22

Might be in the contemporary bestseller list but White Teeth by Zadie Smith? The author's a bit of a twat but I did like The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne (maybe this falls into the bestseller category also?)

Would second Italo Calvino and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I loved Olga Tokarczuk's Drive your plow over the bones of the dead and have not read yet but am anticipating enjoying her Books of Jacob. Maybe also some novels by Elizabeth Strout? They are not plot heavy or particularly postmodern but they are very very good. Everyone I know who has read Olive Kitteridge has enjoyed it.

And a weird recent novel that I liked (if it's genre I have no idea what genre I'd put it in) is LOTE by Shola von Reinhold.

Skirting close to your no genre stipulation but since you mentioned Toni Morrison as an author you all enjoyed I would recommend Kindred by Octavia Butler. The sole sci-fi element (time-travel) doesn't throw it much more into genre than the supernatural elements in Toni Morrison's work imo and it has some similar themes.

On preview I will say that I really enjoyed Detransition, Baby but it maybe falls into your intense friend groups category.
posted by colourlesssleep at 3:24 PM on November 22

Another vote for Italo Calvino. I'm partial to Invisible Cities but the classic rec is If on a winter's night a traveler.

Kazuo Ishiguro
Piranesi by Susanna Clark
posted by jessica fletcher did it at 6:18 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro
Pachinko, Lee
Stoner, Williams
The Sympathizer, Nguyen
The Nickel Boys, Whitehead
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Chabon (miiiight trend too “group of friends”)
The Orphan Master’s Son, Johnson
posted by sevensnowflakes at 7:01 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut.

It is sci fi, but two of the smartest folks I know have read the entire set of, The Expanse, books, aloud to each other. There is al lot of amazing thought in these.
posted by Oyéah at 7:20 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Lol I just realized you specifically excluded The Secret History, so please scratch that from my earlier list.

Here are a few more :)

Zoë Heller Notes on a Scandal
A. M. Homes The End of Alice
Lorrie Moore Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Lionel Shriver We Need to Talk About Kevin
Sarah Waters The Paying Guests
Ian McEwan The Cement Garden
Jennifer Egan A Visit from the Goon Squad
Ottessa Moshfegh My Year of Rest and Relaxation
posted by Susan PG at 8:31 PM on November 22

Some suggestions from my own book club. Many of these are Booker-nominated so may be obvious, apologies if so:

Maggie Shipstead: Great Circle: "parallel narratives about two fictional women. One is about the disappeared 20th-century aviator Marian Graves, while the other is about the struggling 21st-century Hollywood actress Hadley Baxter, who is attempting to make a film about Marian".
Douglas Stuart: Shuggie Bain: Glasgow, 1980s, youth, poverty, alcoholic mother, grim but great.
Maaza Mengiste: The Shadow King: set during the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia
Lauren Groff: Matrix. A "seventeen-year-old Marie de France... sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease".
And maybe Brandon Taylor's Real Life? Though might be a bit too much 'group of friends' talking.
Also seconding Milkman and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

I hesitate to recommend this one because, on looking it up, I see it won the Clarke Award and was highly-rated by Slate, so you've probably heard of it, but if you haven't.... The Animals in That Country, by Laura Jean McKay. It is written in a way that seems wholly new to me. I don't consider it to be SF, in spite of the Clarke Award (it's less SF than MaddAdam is, anyway, albeit the central conceit is not realist).

McKay's Wikipedia led me to New Zealand writer Janet Frame, which you can't go wrong with Owls Do Cry, albeit it was written in 1957 (and on preview I see someone mentioned her autobiography - absolutely!). Who made me think of Elizabeth Knox - you might recognise her fantasy work The Absolute Book which got some good reviews a couple of years ago, but forget that and go for The Vintner's Luck (19th century French winemaker is visited annually be an angel). It's short, and every sentence repays deep reading.
posted by Pink Frost at 10:36 PM on November 22

A little outraged that no one has mentioned Thomas Pynchon. Too obvious??!!?
posted by athirstforsalt at 10:36 PM on November 22

Oh, sorry kickingtheground, I missed it! The Super Serious Syllabus probably also contains Ngugi Wa Thiongo. Not to my taste but there is also the Martin Amis / Julian Barnes brand of Seriousness.
posted by athirstforsalt at 12:04 AM on November 23

Erica Jong
Alison Lurie
David Leavitt
Dorothy Allison
Clyde Edgerton
Anne Tyler
Bebe Moore Campbell
Lorene Cary
Whitney Otto
posted by brujita at 3:29 AM on November 23

as someone who has read and loved Stoner, Out Stealing Horses, and Piranesi, came here to recommend two by Jeanette Winterson:

The Passion
Written on the Body
posted by pintxo at 4:08 AM on November 23

Richard Powers, The Overstory.
posted by nosila at 5:00 AM on November 23

White Teeth, Zadie Smith
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
The Dutch House, Ann Patchett
A Fine Balance, Rohin Mistry
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
posted by nkknkk at 6:31 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]

This seems like what the literary prizes' longlists (e.g., Booker Prize) are made for. I regularly just pick one at random based off of blurbs.

But here are some of my recently read favorites, all written by women of color:

1) The Mountains Sing, Nguyên Phan Quê Mai. When a literary novel is written by a poet, this is how beautiful it can be. Spans almost a century of Vietnamese history, and explores how generations of foreign occupation and conflict affect families.
2) An American Marriage, Tayari Jones. Every seminar on contemporary literary fiction needs a class on Race and the American Dream. I just saw that it won the Women's Prize for Fiction AND is an Oprah's Book Club book, which I find fascinating.
3) Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue. If I were designing a seminar on contemporary literary fiction, I would definitely include one about the 2008-2009 financial crisis and undocumented immigrants in NYC.

I will also make a general plug for One Day I Will Write About This Place, Binyavanga Wainaina. It's a memoir, not fiction, but so so good, and I beg people to read it.
posted by alligatorpear at 6:41 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]

Richard Russo. Nobody's Fool is probably the best place to start, though Straight Man is also good.

John Barth, The Tidewater Tales or The Sot-Weed Factor.

A novella, not a full-scale novel, but delightful: Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It.

Seconding the earlier recommendations of Jane Smiley and Don DeLillo.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:50 AM on November 23

Haruki Murakami, The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Kafka on the Shore and others. These and other books by Murakami have fantasy elements but it is more magic realism than genre, likewise he often has detective story elements but doesn't really fit in that genre either.

Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude and others. The latter has some magical realism. Both include friendships as central plot elements.
posted by JonJacky at 8:03 AM on November 23

Fiction, mostly well known in Canada but beyond?

Eden Robinson: Monkey Beach

Jane Urquhart: The Underpainter

Carole Shields: Unless

Angélique Lalonde: Glorious Frazzled Beings

Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

Esi Edugyan: Half Blood Blues
posted by Rumple at 1:36 PM on November 23

I was going to add Dorothy Baker's Cassandra at the Wedding, but I see Lawn Beaver has beaten me to it! So: I heartily second that.
posted by sonofsnark at 9:42 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

Arundhati Roy's THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS is incredible. If you only read one book from my list, read this one. She reminds me of Toni Morrison in the sheer craft evident on a word/sentence level, as well as her political fierceness and her heartbreaking storytelling.

Kazuo Ishiguro's A PALE VIEW OF HILLS, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, and WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS are each of them breathtaking, and they're all similar enough to each other that it's very interesting to read them in a row and compare. The man is a genre all of his own. Do you know he protects himself from pop culture and most media, and lives mostly as a recluse, just to preserve his inner world and hear himself more clearly when he writes? His work is fascinating to me.

Tom Wolfe's BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and A MAN IN FULL are both rollicking good reads, reminiscent of Victor Hugo imo in how stuff keeps happening and the plot keeps on galloping at a wonderful pace.

Rohinton Mistry's A FINE BALANCE is absolutely sublime, a novel with a vivid sense of place and time, and so much heart. It's Mumbai in the 1970s and focuses on a Parsi (Zoroastrian) family.

Oyinkan Braithwaite's MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER is laugh out loud funny. Black humor in literary fiction is much attempted but rarely accomplished. This one is a shining exception.

(I've been careful not to mention any living writers who are total assholes. Tom Wolfe was a moderately right wing dude who used to be homophobic in the 1980s (wrote an article arguing that gay people shouldn't be in the military iirc) but he was apparently capable of learning and doing better because he did write quite differently about gay people in the years before he died, plus he's dead so no need to feel bad about putting dollars in his pocket.)
posted by MiraK at 11:17 AM on November 24

Oh, oh, oh you have *got* to read MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout. I've never read anything so life affirming as this novel. It is spilling over with kindness and compassion and generosity of spirit.

I know this is a weird thing to say, especially considering what Lucy's age is in this book, but when I finished reading I damn near cried from how hard I was wishing Lucy was my mom.
posted by MiraK at 11:25 AM on November 24

Roald Dahl's adult short stories. Get someone to confirm they're what you're after, but these are crisp storytelling with the kind of sharp moral edges that work in Dahl's children's tales expanded into wider-world settings and comeuppance.
posted by k3ninho at 3:07 PM on November 24

The writer whose work left me deeply moved this year is the Mexican novelist Fernanda Melchor, both her first novel Hurricane Season and the recent Paradise. However: warnings for violence, both sexual and otherwise, deep exploration of misogyny, brutal poverty, etc. Not the easiest books to read, but the prose is mindblowing even in translation.

Also, anything by the novelist and essayist Leslie Jamison, as well as Otessa Moshfegh (I'm currently reading McGlue after tearing through Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation and loving both); and the highest of recommendations for the 2017 Booker Prize winner Lincoln in the Bardo. Emily St John Mandel's The Glass Hotel is superb, as is Suzanna Clarke's Piranesi.
posted by jokeefe at 10:35 PM on November 24

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