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10 Contemporary Fiction Novels Everyone Should Read

Contemporary fiction has taken hundred leagues in couple of years. There are several new dimensions that the authors have explored and succeeded in. Some of these books may seem already to be made into movies but most of them are not.

But we know the power of imagination and the riveting difference between the imagery that screen shows us versus the imagery our brains build while reading, quite different at some points.

In a nutshell, if you have not read these contemporary fiction books we highly recommend you just pick one have a go at it. You will love the list.

House of Leaves

House Of Leaves
Courtesy of horrornovelreviews.files.wordpress.com

House of Leaves is the debut novel by Mark Z. Danielewski, originally published in 2000. Clocking in at 709 pages, it’s an epic tale that weaves its way through numerous genres, but most classify it as horror. An extremely experimental novel, I can’t stress enough how much everybody should read this novel for themselves to discover the many delights contained within.

Marabou Stork Nightmares

Courtesy of lettersfromnairobi.files.wordpress.com
Courtesy of lettersfromnairobi.files.wordpress.com

Irvine Welsh is arguably most famous for his debut work Trainspotting, which makes it all the more interesting to know that his second novel is far and away the better novel but is certainly less known. One of Welsh’s only novels that hasn’t been made into a film, likely because the experimental nature of it means a film probably couldn’t do it justice; with an unreliable narrator, a character in a coma and a narrative split between first person and stream of consciousness, this one gives readers a lot to love.

The Raw Shark Texts

Courtesy of wikimedia.org
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Although the trope of a narrator waking up with an inability to remember who they are or where they are has become old hat in many ways, The Raw Shark Texts takes it in a fantastic and new direction. This novel incorporates concrete poetry, meta-fiction and experimentation with typography to create the definition of an ambitious debut novel.

The Coma

Courtesy of amazon.com
Courtesy of amazon.com

I bought the The Coma on a whim, knowing that Alex Garland was the writer of both The Beach and The Tesseract but having read neither. I finished the novel in one sitting with a few beers in the pub, letting the story and illustrations (done by Garland’s father) flow over me while I tuned out the world. I would recommend you read all three of Alex Garland’s novels but The Coma is certainly my favourite.

The Adult

Courtesy of twimg.com
Courtesy of twimg.com

When reading Stretch’s third novel I was reminded in ways of Adrian Mole. The narrator is a socially awkward teenager/adult who struggles when it comes to love and understanding the world around him. However, I felt The Adult said far more about contemporary society than I’d ever seen in the diaries of Mole. Do yourself a favour and take a look at this novel which successfully finds nuggets of humour in the otherwise bleak life of the characters.

Infinite Jest

Courtesy of theartsdesk.com
Courtesy of theartsdesk.com

Often cited as a novel that we’ll all buy but never read, Infinite Jest is one of the best unread novels on everyone’s bookshelves. At 1079 pages and containing over 300 endnotes, it would be impossible for me to sum up this encyclopedic novel and still do it justice. Please, just start reading and eventually it will have you. Trust me.


Courtesy of randomhouse.com
Courtesy of randomhouse.com

Survivor is the novel that came after Palahniuk’s debut effort, Fight Club. Just like Marabou Stork Nightmares, I feel Palahniuk’s second novel is better than the first and yet the first is much better known. Numbered backwards, the book takes the form of a black box retelling of the main character’s life as the plane he’s on slowly runs out of fuel, leading to its inevitable crash.

Keeping Britain Tidy

Courtesy of twimg.com
Courtesy of twimg.com

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say I am close friends with Steve Hollyman, the author of this debut novel. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it is one you should all be taking a look at. Chronicling the lives of a small group of intelligent “chavs” who go out and do in those they see worthy of a battering, this is a blisteringly good first novel.

The Road

Courtesy of cloudfront.net
Courtesy of cloudfront.net

The Road follows a father and son over a period of months throughout a post-apocalyptic landscape, describing their journey in gripping intensity. If you’ve not seen the film yet, I suggest you read the book before you do. There’s something about the power of the imagination that vividly turns the bleak images described in this book into truly suffocating reality that is lost in film form.

Slaughterhouse Five

Courtesy of http://7summitsproject.com/
Courtesy of http://7summitsproject.com/

Slaughterhouse Five is one of those novels that I cannot recommend enough. Another one that I read in one sitting, the semi-autobiographical satire reels you in and leaves you completely drained by the end of it. It’s also a good book to introduce you to Vonnegut’s writing, a volume of work that is definitely worth your time.


Jake Ormrod
I am a freelance writer living in Manchester, finishing off my first novel for a Creative Writing MA. I write/read every day and have a borderline obsession with music and video games.


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