Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse-Five
In its publication year, Slaughterhouse-Five was nominated for a best-novel Nebula Award and for a best-novel Hugo Award, 1970. It lost both to The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. Don't let the ease of reading fool you! Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch-22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy–and humor.
Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of the The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out of work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin their journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitch Hiker's Guide "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and a galaxy-full of fellow travellers: Zaphod Beeblebrox - the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out to lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ball-point pens he has bought over the years.
Alasdair Gray - Lanark
From its first publication in 1981, Lanark was hailed as a masterpiece and it has come to be widely regarded as the most remarkable and influential Scottish novel of the second half of the twentieth century. A work of extraordinary imagination and wide-ranging concerns, its playful narrative conveys at its core a profound message, both personal and political, about humankind's inability to love, and yet our compulsion to go on trying. With its echoes of Dante, Blake, Joyce, Kafka, and Lewis Carroll, Lanark has been published all over the world and to unanimous acclaim. This collector's edition -- deluxe four-volume slipcased and numbered -- marks the novel's return to its original publisher and features a superb new introduction by the award-winning novelist Janice Galloway. In addition, it includes the author's Tailpiece, a fascinating addendum to the novel.
Yann Martel - Life of Pi
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific.The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi - a 16-year-old Indian boy.The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a transformative novel, a dazzling work of imagination that will delight and astound readers in equal measure. It is a triumph of storytelling and a tale that will, as one character puts it, make you believe in God.
Thomas Hardy - Far from the Madding Crowd
The first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, Far From the Madding Crowd established the author as one of Britain’s foremost writers. It also introduced readers to Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England that served as the pastoral setting for many of the author’s later works. Far From the Madding Crowd tells the story of beautiful Bathsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent woman who inherits a farm and decides to run it herself. She rejects a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak, a loyal man who takes a job on her farm after losing his own in an unfortunate accident. He is forced to watch as Bathsheba mischievously flirts with her neighbor, Mr Boldwood, unleashing a passionate obsession deep within the reserved man. But both suitors are soon eclipsed by the arrival of the dashing soldier, Frank Troy, who falls in love with Bathsheba even though he’s still smitten with another woman. His reckless presence at the farm drives Boldwood mad with jealousy, and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leads to both murder and marriage. A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, Far from the Madding Crowd is also an unforgettable portrait of a rural culture that, by Hardy’s lifetime, had become threatened with extinction at the hands of ruthless industrialization.
Salman Rushdie - Fury
Fury is the story of a dollmaker whose dolls run wild, of living women turned into dolls and then broken, and of a revolt on the planet's far side led by an army of living dolls. Fury is a novel of an old, deep love gone wrong, of a second, twisted passion rooted in wrongness, and of a third, passionate love that just might turn out right. Fury is a novel of furious energy, a study of the workings of fury at the heart of human lives: the personal fury that poisons human relations, the psychotic fury that fuels murderers, the social fury born of our raised and disappointed hopes, the creative fury that sets free our greatest gifts, the political fury that starts revolutions and burns whole cities down. Fury is a novel of today, an utterly contemporary portrait of life at the beginning of the third millennium, life in New York during an apparently endless time of prosperity that is paradoxically also a time of barrenness in many people's lives, and also in the world-empire that America rules, although it barely knows where it is.
Paul Auster - The Music of Chance
Following the death of his father, Jim Nashe takes to the open road. But there he picks up Pozzi, a hitchhiking gambler, and is drawn into a dangerous game of high-stakes poker with two eccentric and reclusive millionaires.
Gabriel García Márquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women -- brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul -- this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.
V. S. Naipaul - In a Free State
No writer has rendered our boundariless, post-colonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives. In the beginning it is just a car trip through Africa. Two English people--Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys, and Linda, a supercilious compound wife-- are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital. But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin's Uganda. And the farther Naipaul's protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims. Alongside this Conradian tour de force are four incisive portraits of men seeking liberation far from home. By turns funny and terrifying, sorrowful and unsparing, In A Free State is Naipaul at his best.
Salman Rushdie - The Ground Beneath Her Feet
Vina Aspara, a famous and much-loved singer, is caught up in a devastating earthquake and never seen again. This is her story, and that of Ormus Cama, the lover who finds, loses, seeks and again finds her throughout his extraordinary life in music. It is narrated by Ormus's childhood friend, Rai.
J. G. Ballard - The Drowned World
In the 21st century, fluctuations in solar radiation have caused the ice-caps to melt and the seas to rise. Global temperatures have climbed, and civilization has retreated to the Arctic and Antarctic circles. London is a city now inundated by a primeval swamp, to which an expedition travels to record the flora and fauna of this new Triassic Age. This early novel by the author of CRASH and EMPIRE OF THE SUN is at once a fast paced narrative, a stunning evocation of a flooded, tropical London of the near future and a speculative foray into the workings of the unconscious mind.
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Few Victorian mysteries are more haunting, sinister and profound than Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It is when Mr Utterson, a dry London lawyer, peruses the last will of his old friend Henry Jekyll that his suspicions are aroused. What is the relationship between upright, respectable Dr Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde? Who murdered the distinguished MP, Sir Danvers? So begins Stevenson's spine-tingling horror story, the story of Dr Jekyll's infernal alter ego, and of a hunt throughout the nocturnal streets of London that culminates in some dreadful revelations.
Marina Lewycka - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
´Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.´ Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth. But the sisters´ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe´s darkest history and sends them back to roots they´d much rather forget...
Gabriel García Márquez - Love in the Time of Cholera
On the Caribbean coast at the dawn of the twentieth century hopeless romantic Florentino Ariza falls passionately for beautiful Fermina Daza - but tragically his love is rejected. Instead Fermina marries distinguished Dr. Juvenal, while Florentino can only forget her in the arms of other women. Yet fifty-one years, nine month and four days later, Florentino has an another chance to profess his enduring love for Fermina when her husband anexpectedly dies in a bizarre axcident. Can a love over half a century old remain unrequited?
J. G. Ballard - The Atrocity Exhibition
When “The Atrocity Exhibition” was published in 1970 it went on to become a cult book and is now seen as one of JG Ballard’s key works. It features many of the obsessions that recur in his later books such as “Empire of the Sun”, “High-Rise” and “Super-Cannes”, as well as the seed of his most controversial work, “Crash”. In this revised addition, Ballard has added extensive annotations that help to unlock many of the mysteries of one of the most prophetic, enigmatic and original works of fiction of the late twentieth century.
Alan Warner - Morvern Callar
Morvern Callar, a low-paid employee in the local supermarket of a desolate and beautiful port town in the west of Scotland, wakes one morning in late December to find that her boyfriend has committed suicide and is lying dead on the kitchen floor. Morvern's reaction is both intriguing and immoral, and what she does next is appalling. Moving across a blurred European landscape - from the rural poverty and drunken mayhem of the Scottish port to the Mediterranean rave scene - we experience everything from Morvern's stark, unflinching perspective. She rarely goes anywhere without the Walkman left behind as a Christmas present by her dead boyfriend, and as she narrates this strange story, she takes care to tell the reader exactly what music she is listening to, creating the stunning effect of a soundtrack running behind her voice throughout the novel. Alan Warner probes the vast internal emptiness of a generation by using the cool, haunting voice of a female narrator lost in the profound anomie of the rave scene. Hers is a chilling, hardcore perspective, entirely different from the cliched whiny angst of Generation X.
Ernest Hemingway - Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises
Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises tells the story of Jake Barnes, an expatriate living in Paris. He was wounded in World War I, and is now a journalist who spends his time drinking with other American expatriates. The group of characters travel from Paris to Pamplona for the running of the bulls.
James Kelman - A Disaffection
Patrick Doyle is a 29-year-old teacher in an ordinary school. Disaffected, frustrated and increasingly bitter at the system he is employed to maintain, Patrick begins his rebellion, fuelled by drink and his passionate, unrequited love for a fellow teacher. _A Disaffection_ is the apparently straightforward story of one week in a man's life in which he decides to change the way he lives. Under the surface,however, lies a brilliant and complex examination of class, human culture and character written with irony, tenderness,enormous anger and, above all, the honesty that has marked James Kelman as one of the most important writers in contemporary Britain.
Patrick White - Voss
The plot of this novel is of epic simplicity: in 1845 Voss sets out with a small band to cross the Australian continent for the first time. The tragic story of their terrible journey and its inevitable end is told with imaginative understanding. The figure of Voss takes on superhuman proportions, until he appears to those around him as both deliverer and destroyer. His relationship with Laura Trevelyan is the central personal theme of the story. The true record of Ludwig Leichardt, who died in the Australian desert in 1848, suggested Voss to the author.
John Barth - Giles Goat-Boy
In this outrageously farcical adventure, hero George Giles sets out to conquer the terrible Wescac computer system that threatens to destroy his community in this brilliant "fantasy of theology, sociology, and sex"