Fifty (or so) Works of Fiction

A list of fifty (or so) works of fiction that have changed my life as a reader and a writer. (For years, I endeavored to keep this list at fifty, but as it’s an arbitrary number, and as it required me to keep cutting works I loved and thought were important, I changed the rules.)

In many cases, I could have listed multiple works by individual writers but chose to include here only a single work by each author, although in three cases the works I have listed consist of multi-volume narratives: J. G. Farrell’s The Empire Trilogy, Olivia Manning’s The Fortunes of War and Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet. I have linked to essays I have written about a few of these. (Listed alphabetically by author)

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
4 3 2 1, Paul Auster
The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes
The Stories of Richard Bausch, Richard Bausch
Gryphon, Charles Baxter
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
The Girl from Charnelle, K L Cook
Academy Street, Mary Costello
Libra, Don DeLillo
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The March, E.L. Doctorow
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Selected Stories, Andre Dubus
Pacific, Tom Drury
Look at Me, Jennifer Egan
Middlemarch, George Eliot
The Empire Trilogy, J. G. Farrell
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain
Here in Berlin, Cristina Garcia
New Grub Street, George Gissing.
Long Man, Amy Greene
TinkersPaul Harding
Bang the Drum Slowly, Mark Harris
Benediction, Kent Haruf
The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson
Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson
Anniversaries, Uwe Johnson
Dubliners, James Joyce
The Boy in the Field, Margot Livesey
Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor
The Fortunes of War, Olivia Manning
Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes
The Son, Philipp Meyer
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Carried Away (selected stories), Alice Munro
1Q84, Haruki Murakami
Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky
The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
Emily, Alone, Stewart O’Nan
Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
The Street, Ann Petry
This Angel on My Chest, Leslie Pietrzyk
The Overstory, Richard Powers
Empire Falls, Richard Russo
The Raj Quartet, Paul Scott
Ideas of Heaven, Joan Silber
Train to Pakistan, Khushwant Singh
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
The Year We Left Home, Jean Thompson
The Collected Stories, William Trevor
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
John Williams
Our Story Begins (selected stories), 
Tobias Wolff