The 15 Best Modern Novels

Here’s my list of the 15 best modern novels, in no particular order.

  1. White Teeth by Zadie Smith – A quirky and endearing novel about a Jamaican girl growing up in a largely immigrant neighborhood in London.
  2. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Considered the ultimate anti-war novel, this book is based on Vonnegut’s own experiences in World War II. Hilarious and heartwarming.
  3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – A beautiful story about a young boy growing up in Afghanistan and the consequences of the civil war.
  4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – Just as brilliant as The Kite Runner, if not moreso. About a young girl sold into marriage by her family in the age of the Taliban.
  5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – A Pulitzer Prize winner and now a feature film. A story about a boy, a terrorist attack and a rare 16th century Dutch painting.
  6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Two children, one German, one French, in the most unlikely of circumstances, come together during World War II, due to the love of story books and radios.
  7. The God of the Small Things by Arundhati Roy – Booker Prize winner and debut novel of the hugely popular Indian novelist. This book is an investigation into how “small things” can have big repercussions, especially in modern India.
  8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – A story of a traditional English butler and the lengths he will go to uphold his duty.
  9. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – As long as it is brilliant and funny. Most people can’t finish it as it seem, well, infinite. Considered the hallmark novel of Generation X, Wallace’s critique of technology and our obsession with entertainment only grows more relevant each year.
  10. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – The consummate criticism of middle American suburban life in the 21st century. One of my favorite books ever written. National Book Award winner.
  11. Atonement by Ian McEwan – A major motion picture and modern classic that looks at how one childish mistake can affect a family for generations.
  12. The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Perhaps the darkest and yet most powerful book about parenthood. A father fights to keep his boy alive in a post-apocalyptic world.
  13. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – The Japanese oddball’s greatest work. It’s hard to describe Murakami if you haven’t read him. But this is his most penetrating effort.
  14. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – Horrifying yet thoughtful political commentary on the glut and greed of the late 80s Wall Street. Later turned into a famous film.
  15. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. About a young slave attempting to escape the antebellum south.

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