Following on from my ‘The Novel is Not Dead’ post last week, I have decided to blog about some of my favourite contemporary novels. As I’ve been doing an English degree for the past three years I haven’t read as much recent fiction as I have wanted to, so these are some favourites published in the last five years. All were squeezed in between assigned reading in the summer or winter breaks from university, at times when I could stand reading as an escape.
Doppler by Erlend Loe – a wonderful little story about a man who leaves his comfortable life behind to live in the forest with a deer. The original Norwegian story was published in 2004, but the English translation didn’t appear until 2012. I really enjoyed this novel, it was different to what I usually read. I’d like to read more Loe.
The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry – another translated book, this one by a French author. This resonated with me because I have worked in a library. The narrator uses stream-of-consciousness throughout the short novel, talking in a monologue to somebody who has snuck into the basement. I found it charming, yet it was acerbic at the same time.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – I read all three 1Q84 books over the winter holidays after they came out. They were a nice change of pace: I found the alternate worlds interesting and imagery read there still comes back to me after the two years. Murakami’s next novel is published in English later this year.
Levels of Life by Julian Barnes – wonderful, sad book with beautiful imagery. It is part story, part memoir; an account of Barnes’ time with his wife, and of her death. This book made me cry more than once: it was heartbreakingly good.
I’m looking forward to reading more recent fiction now my degree is over. Favourite authors have books coming out soon and I want to catch up on those published in the last few years. But even after my very short list of recent fiction I’ve read and enjoyed, I am still confident that the novel is not dead.