100 best novels

The 100 Best Novels in English

by Robert McCrum

Everybody loves a list, but this is something even more special. It is a collection by The Observer’s Associate Editor, Robert McCrum of those books that he considers to be the 100 Best Novels in English - with a short commentary on each. He gives the context for each work, an outline resume of the subject matter and provides fascinating anecdotes on how these books came to be published. It is immensely readable in book form, even more so than the original series which omitted much of the text due to space reasons. Indeed, to read this volume from beginning to end is to travel through 300 years of literature in just 256 pages, finding out as you go what it was that led to the evolution of this art form. McCrum is thoroughly expert in these matters but fundamentally a writer who entertains with his insights. The selection of novels is chronological rather than ranked.

Robert McCrum is a writer and editor whose most recent book, Globish, was published worldwide to international acclaim in 2010. From 1980 to 1996, he was editor-in-chief of Faber & Faber, where he published, amongst others, Kazuo Ishiguro, Milan Kundera, Peter Carey, Paul Auster, Marilynne Robinson, Lorrie Moore, Adam Phillips and Hanif Kureishi. At the same time, he wrote seven novels, and co-authored the BBC TV series, The Story Of English, for which he was awarded an Emmy in 1986.

He was appointed literary editor of the Observer in 1996, and published P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in 2004. His account of his stroke, My Year Off (1998), is now in its third edition as a Picador Classic.

These are his selections:
A Bend in the River, VS Naipaul, A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood, The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren, Amongst Women, John McGahern, An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro, As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner, At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien, Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis, The Beginning of Spring, Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath, The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, Breathing Lessons, Anne Tyler, The Call of the Wild, Jack London, The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger, Catch-22, Joseph Heller, Clarissa, Samuel Richardson, A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons, David Copperfield, Charles Dickens, Disgrace, JM Coetzee, Dracula, Bram Stoker, Emma, Jane Austen, The End of the Affair, Graham Greene, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anita Loos, The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford, The Golden Bowl, Henry James, The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing,The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Hadrian the Seventh, Frederick Rolfe, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, The Heat of the Day, Elizabeth Bowen, The History of Mr Polly, HG Wells, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson, In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, Joy in the Morning, PG Wodehouse, Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy, Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kim, Rudyard Kipling, Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lord of the Flies, William Golding, The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett, Middlemarch, George Eliot, Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie, Moby-Dick, Herman Melville, Money, A Suicide Note, Martin Amis, The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor, Murphy, Samuel Beckett, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe, New Grub Street, George Gissing, Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, Nineteen Nineteen, John Dos Passos, Nightmare Abbey, Thomas Love Peacock, Of Human Bondage, W Somerset Maugham, On the Road, Jack Kerouac, Party Going, Henry Green, A Passage to India, EM Forster, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, Rabbit Redux, John Updike, The Rainbow, DH Lawrence, The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Scoop, Evelyn Waugh, The Sign of Four, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser, Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison, Sybil, Benjamin Disraeli, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope, The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan, Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Laurence Sterne, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller, True Story of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey, Ulysses, James Joyce, Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry, Underworld, Don DeLillo, Vanity Fair, William Thackeray, Voss, Patrick White, The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm.

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Product details

Paperback, hardback
978 1 903385 42 5 (Pb), 978-1-903385-44-9(Hb)