Fifty Works of Fiction

A list of fifty works of fiction that have changed my life as a reader and a writer. 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 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
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
The House on Fortune Street, 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 Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
Emily, Alone, Stewart O’Nan
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
This Angel on My Chest, Leslie Pietrzyk
Empire Falls, Richard Russo
The Raj Quartet, Paul Scott
Ideas of Heaven, Joan Silber
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
The Year We Left Home, Jean Thompson
The Collected Stories, William Trevor
Zone One, Colson Whitehead
Stoner, John Williams
Our Story Begins (selected stories), Tobias Wolff