- The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector
Aficionados of South American fiction as well as literary critics will welcome this posthumous translation of a nearly plotless novel by one of Brazil's foremost writers. Availing herself of a single character, Lispector transforms a banal situation—a woman at home, alone—into an amphitheater for philosophical investigations. The first-person narration jousts with language, playfully but forcefully examining the ambiguous nature of words, with results ranging from the profound to the pretentious. -from Goodreads.com
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's dark novel, The Scarlet Letter, a single sinful act ruins the lives of three people. None more so than Hester Prynne, a young, beautiful, and dignified woman, who conceived a child out of wedlock and receives the public punishment of having to always wear a scarlet "A" on her clothing. Though originally published in 1850, the story is set in seventeenth-century Massachusetts among Hawthorne's Puritan ancestors. In The Scarlet Letter, he created a story that highlighted both their weaknesses and their strengths. His knowledge of their beliefs and his admiration for their way of life was balanced by his concerns about their rigid and oppressive rules. - from Goodreads.com
- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield is the story of a young man's adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his brilliant, but ultimately unworthy school-friend James Steerforth; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble, yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora Spenlow; and the magnificently impecunious Wilkins Micawber, one of literature's great comic creations. In David Copperfield - the novel he described as his 'favourite child' - Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of the most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. -from Goodreads.com
- Ignorance by Milan Kundera
A man and a woman meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned twenty years earlier when they chose to become exiles. Will they manage to pick up the thread of their strange love story, interrupted almost as soon as it began and then lost in the tides of history? The truth is that after such a long absence "their memories no longer match." We always believe that our memories coincide with those of the person we loved, that we experienced the same thing. But this is just an illusion. Then again, what can we expect of our weak memory? It records only "an insignificant, minuscule particle" of the past, "and no one knows why it's this bit and not any other bit." We live our lives sunk in a vast forgetting, a fact we refuse to recognize. Only those who return after twenty years, like Odysseus returning to his native Ithaca, can be dazzled and astounded by observing the goddess of ignorance firsthand. - from Goodreads.com
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
From the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comes Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common? Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unraveling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge). To find out more, read this book – or contact Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. - from Goodreads.com
- Alain Robbe-Grillet - "Jealousy"
Robbe-Grillet [masked]) is an influential writer of the "nouveau roman" that developed in France during the 1950's. Here, such things as plot development and character analysis are subordinated to the repetitive, geometric description of objects. There is an exclusive and tyrannical appeal to the sense of sight. Does this replace - or can it reveal - the interiority of the characters? His novels are considered 'anti-psychological,' whatever that might mean. Without the usual, worn-out, literary devices - like narrative and ideas - we are forced to piece together the story through shifting repetitions, minute details, and splintered timelines. This novel apparently has something to do with jealousy. Or maybe not. Another writer associated with this movement is Marguerite Duras. Robbe-Grillet was also a writer-director of films, and is known for his pairing up with Alain Resnais in "Last Year at Marienbad" (Resnais also paired up with Duras for "Hiroshima mon amour"). His total corpus consists of about 20 written works and around 10 films.
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
“Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?” Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, published in 1848, is peopled by types who remain familiar today. It immerses us in a strange world of social stratification and moral strictures. Yet its characters—from dissolute playboys and self-important heirs to judgmental aunts and finicky gourmands—are instantly recognizable. None of these characters is more memorable than Becky Sharp, one of Victorian literature’s most remarkable creations. She uses the only tools at her disposal—sex, cunning, and audacity—to advance into society’s most exclusive circles. Thackeray interweaves the stories of Becky and other memorable characters into an exuberant narrative that illuminates all manner of human folly. His withering gaze exposes the mean-spirited pretensions and craving for distinction that permeate the social world. By placing the social skirmishes and family clashes of his characters against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, Vanity Fair invites us to contemplate the pervasiveness of human strife—and the damage done by our egotism and self-delusion. - Adapted from Penguin reading guide