In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 1988, Toni Morrison frees herself from the bonds of traditional narrative and establishes an independent style, just as her characters have freed themselves from the horrors of slavery and escaped from Kentucky to Ohio. Revealing the story of Sethe and her family as they survive the brutality of the farm, only to encounter torments even more punishing than whippings after they escape, Morrison presents scenes in a seemingly random order, each scene revealing some aspect of life for Sethe, her boys, her dead baby Beloved, and the new baby Denver, both in the past and in the present. Moving back and forth, around, and inside out through Sethe’s recollections, she gradually reveals Sethe’s story to the reader, its horror increasing as the reader makes the connections which turn disconnected scenes into a powerful and harrowing chronology.
Toni Morrison - The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
The exemplary novel of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgeralds' third book, The Great Gatsby (1925), stands as the supreme achievement of his career. T. S. Eliot read it three times and saw it as the "first step" American fiction had taken since Henry James; H. L. Mencken praised "the charm and beauty of the writing," as well as Fitzgerald's sharp social sense; and Thomas Wolfe hailed it as Fitzgerald's "best work" thus far. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow
Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.
Paul Auster - The Book of Illusions
Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in a plane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then, watching television one night, he stumbles upon a lost film by the great silent comedian Hector Mann, and finds himself entranced. His growing obsession with the mystery of Mann's true life story will take Zimmer on a strange and intense journey into a shadow-world of lies, illusions and unexpected love...
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.
Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me Go
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.
J. D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye
Ever since it was first published in 1951, this novel has been the coming-of-age story against which all others are judged. Read and cherished by generations, the story of Holden Caulfield is truly one of America's literary treasures. Salinger's classic coming-of-age story portrays one young man's funny and poignant experiences with life, love, and sex.
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.
Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale
A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules. Like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid's Tale has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant.
Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of the Day
It is the summer of 1956, and the ageing butler of Darlington Hall takes a rare holiday. But it is a journey that will also take him deep into his past. The Remains of the Day is a remarkable story: a man's exploration of his own life, and his heart-breaking attempt to make sense of it.
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.
Iris Murdoch - The Bell
A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an enclosed order of nuns. A new bell,legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. Dora Greenfield, erring wife, returns to her husband. Michael Mead, leader of the community, is confronted by Nick Fawley, with whom he had disasterous homosexual relations, while the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercies discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved whatever that may mean...Iris Murdoch's funny and sad novel is about religion, the fight between good and evil and the terrible accidents of human frailty.
Milan Kundera - A lét elviselhetetlen könnyűsége
___Milan Kundera talán leghíresebb, ma sem halványuló népszerűségű regénye sztori és filozófiai-történelmi-politikai eszmefuttatások mesteri ötvözete, amely azonban mindig megőrzi szépirodalmi jellegét. Főhőse egy jó nevű sebész, Tomáš, nagy szoknyabolond, naponta váltogatja szeretőit. S egy szép nap e Don Juan-i figura mögött felsejlik egy másik legendás férfialak, Trisztán; hősünk beleszeret egy kisvárosi pincérnőbe, Terezába, és feleségül veszi. Korábbi gazdag és mozgalmas szexuális életéről azonban nem tud és nem akar lemondani, jóllehet ezzel elmondhatatlan fájdalmat okoz az egyetlen valóban szeretett lénynek. Tomáš ellentmondásos alakja mögé pedig Kundera a "prágai tavasz" eseményeit, majd 1968 drámáját, az orosz inváziót, az első napok euforisztikus gyűlöletét, végül a "normalizáció" éveinek megaláztatásait rajzolja fel háttérnek. ___Miféle sors, milyen jövő várhat itt Tomášra, Terezára vagy épp Sabinára, a festőnőre, Tomáš egyik szeretőjére? Megoldás-e, ha az emigráns megszabadul minden kötöttségtől? Hiszen súlya csak annak van, ami örökkévaló vagy örökkön ismétlődik. Az egyének és a nemzetek sorsa nem ilyen. Az igazi dráma azonban - mondja Kundera - nem a súlyosság, hanem a könnyűség drámája: hogy minden feledésbe merül, és semmi sem tehető jóvá. Hogy a jóvátétel, a bosszú vagy a megbocsátás szerepét a feledés veszi át.
Toni Morrison - A kedves
Büszke és önálló gondolkodású asszony Sethe, a szökött rabszolga, az anyaság megtestesítője - neve a bibliai ősatyára, Sétre utal -, akinek csak negyedik gyermeke születése után jut osztályrészül egy csöppnyi boldogság, összesen huszonnyolc nap. Számára a jövő értelme abban áll, hogy féken tartsa a múltat, miközben iszonyatos erőfeszítéssel igyekszik megmenteni gyermekeit a fizikai és érzelmi megpróbáltatásoktól... Megtörtént esemény, egy hatalmas vihart kavaró gyilkosság lobbantotta lángra a Nobel-díjas amerikai írónő képzeletét. Műve egyrészt történelmi regény sokszereplős sorsábrázolással, másrészt lélegzetelállítóan igaz kísértethistória - mert az igazság teljes feltárása során egymás mellé kell kerülnie a fantáziának, a valóságnak és a lehetségesnek. Toni Morrison remekművében ott van az Exodus robaja és az altatódal idilli csendje.
Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
The Corrections is a grandly entertaining novel for the new century-a comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes. After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man - or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home. Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, The Corrections brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and globalized greed. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, deeply humane, it confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of our most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.
Toni Morrison - Song of Solomon
This is the story of Macon ''Milkman'' Dead, as he makes a voyage of rediscovery, travelling southwards geographically and inwards spiritually. Through the enlightenment of one man the novel recapitulates the history of slavery and liberation.
Iris Murdoch - The Black Prince
"The Black Prince" is both a remarkable thriller and a story about being in love. Bradley Pearson, narrator and hero, is an elderly writer with a 'block'. Finding himself surrounded by predatory friends and relations - his ex-wife, her delinquent brother, a younger, deplorably successful writer, Arnold Baffin, Baffin's restless wife and engaging daughter - Bradley attempts to escape. His failure to do so and its aftermath lead to a violent climax and a most unexpected conclusion.
Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
There can be many varying reasons for selling one's soul to the devil. Fame, power, love; a distraction of this world can rapidly consume the entirety of one's concentration until the distraction becomes that person's very "reality". It is fascinating to observe how the good in this world can be overlooked or neglected due to the singularity of one's concentration on what is, ultimately, the "bad". The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story that captures such a concept and places it in the context of late nineteenth century London. Basil Hallward is a painter, one of amateur talents, but a painter that receives an inspiration that some like to call divine. A particularly new acquaintance of his, a Mr. Dorian Gray, seems to put all art into perspective for the aspiring artist. The result is a perfectly splendid picture of the beautiful Dorian Gray, who sits for Hallward in the epitome of innocence. There is a friend of Hallward's, who goes by the name of Lord Henry Wotton. Harry, as his friends call him, is something of an enigma to the familial circles of English aristocracy; Dorian most aptly entitles him "Prince Paradox" much later in the novel. Gray is immediately captivated by the charisma of Lord Wotton, whom he met while Hallward is painting his portrait. Following the completion of the painting, Dorian becomes melancholic, having just learned the wonders of his youth and beauty from Prince Paradox; indeed, upon gazing into his own picture, Dorian Gray is already missing his youthful splendour. In his newfound narcissism, Dorian makes a foolhardy wish: that the painting grows old and ugly while he should retain his exceptional beauty. There is a liberal utilization of symbolization in this controversial book, and most particularly so in Henry Wotton and his meeting with Dorian Gray. Harry, who becomes Dorian's closest friend, represents a kind of hedonism that is vastly different from the sociality of their familiars, and yet also apart from the vulgar tastes of the uneducated. In the words of Dorian Gray: "Yes: there was to be, as Lord Henry prophesied, a new Hedonism that was to recreate life, and to save it from the harsh, uncomely Puritanism that was making its own curious revival. It was to have its service of the intellect, certainly; yet, it was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. His aim, indeed, was to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be. Of the asceticism that deadens the sense, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to know nothing. But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that is itself but a moment." Before Dorian Gray met Lord Henry Wotton, he recognized things as they were. Following that momentous exchange, Dorian Gray recognized only shadows. Art, to the corrupted youth, was not just a reflection of life and love, but reality itself. Passion is the first and final goal of his new worldview, and it ultimately destroys the child within. Basil Hallward symbolizes the simplicity, the good, and the rare in modern London: his friend Henry calls him "dull", as all great artists are. Hallward, in a clever instance of foreboding, did not want Lord Henry to even meet Dorian: "Dorian Gray has a simple and beautiful nature… Don't spoil him." The good in life seems to become less relevant, less necessary as life goes on, as the individual experiences more, until the good doesn't seem to exist… at all. A key idea in the Picture of Dorian Gray is, I think, the fall of innocence to the pleasures of this novel Hedonism that plays the antagonism of this story. Though Dorian may indeed retain his outer beauty, startling the perceptions of everyone near him, the soul within becomes unrecognizable to a simple eye, to any eye removed of darkness. In the writing of this, his only novel, Oscar Wilde manages to take hold of several key ideas and succeeds in putting them on a magnificent, provocative display. The central themes, art, love and novelty, are the fine threads that boldly form the grandeur of the patterned Idea. As this is the ultimate goal in every work of art, I would claim that The Picture of Dorian Gray is an accomplished story on every level.
Paul Auster - Mr. Vertigo (angol)
Paul Auster's dazzling, picaresque novel is the story of one Walter Claireborne Rawley, renowned nationwide as "Walt the Wonder Boy." It is the late 1920's, the era of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone, and Walt is a Saint Louis orphan rescued frm the streets by the mysterious Hungarian Master Yehudi, who teaches Walt to walk on air. The vaudeville act that results from Walt's marvelous new abiltiy takes them across a vast and vibrant country, where they meet and fall prey to sinners, thieves, and villains, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob. Walt's rise to fame and fortune mirrors America's own coming of age, and his resilience, like that of the nation, is challenged over and over again. Mr. Vertigo is a bravura celebration of a raucous age, an ambitious and enduringly brilliant tale of trial and triumph.
Jack Kerouac - On the Road
_On the Road_ chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than forty years ago.