Ten dif­fi­cult books worth read­ing

The Guardian - Review - - Cover Story - Lara Feigel

The Waves, Vir­ginia Woolf

Woolf set out to “record the atoms as they fall upon the mind” and The Waves is an ex­per­i­ment in do­ing this with­out the usual nar­ra­tive scaf­fold­ing. The lives of six char­ac­ters are told through their re­volv­ing thoughts. This can feel hard to nav­i­gate, but if you per­se­vere there’s an in­tense sen­sory world to be dis­cov­ered.

The Golden Bowl, Henry James

James is no­to­ri­ous for his com­pli­cat­edly me­an­der­ing sen­tences and this late novel takes it to a new level. It’s not only the prose that’s dif­fi­cult, the plot it­self be­comes more about what char­ac­ters know about each other than what they are ac­tu­ally do­ing. It’s the ul­ti­mate novel for peo­ple in­ter­ested in chart­ing ev­ery nu­ance and de­tail of hu­man re­la­tion­ships.

The lega­cies of slav­ery and their in­ter­sec­tions with pa­tri­archy might seem sub­jects too dif­fi­cult for scrupu­lous nov­el­is­tic treat­ment. Mor­ri­son’s book throws the dis­cov­er­ies of high mod­ernist style and the fiery drives of gothic hor­ror at the task and cre­ates some­thing uniquely un­set­tling and ap­pallingly con­vinc­ing. Beloved makes read­ers suf­fer, but our suf­fer­ing en­larges our world. Ishig­uro’s Booker prize-

Beloved, Toni Mor­ri­son The Un­con­soled, Kazuo Ishig­uro

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