The Modern Library

200 Best Novels in English 1950 – 1998

[Read 85]


  • A Murder is Announced Agatha Christie 
  • Nothing Henry Green 
  • Power Without Glory Frank Hardy 
  • The Grand Sophy Georgette Heyer


  • December Bride Sam Hanna Bell 
  • My Cousin Rachel Daphne du Maurier 
  • The West Pier Patrick Hamilton 
  • The Ballad of the Sad Café Carson McCullers 
  • A Dance to the Music of Time (1951–75) Anthony Powell 
  • The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger


  • Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
  • The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway
  • The Natural Bernard Malamud
  • The Financial Expert R. K. Narayan
  • Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor
  • East of Eden John Steinbeck
  • The Sword of Honour Trilogy (1952–61) Evelyn Waugh


  • Private Life of an Indian Prince Mulk Raj Anand
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain James Baldwin
  • The Adventures of Augie March Saul Bellow
  • The Long Good-Bye Raymond Chandler
  • The Go-Between L. P. Hartley
  • The Echoing Grove Rosamond Lehmann
  • The Palm-Wine Drinkard Amos Tutuola


  • Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
  • Lord of the Flies William Golding
  • The Tortoise and the Hare Elizabeth Jenkins
  • The Flint Anchor Sylvia Townsend Warner


  • The Molloy Trilogy (1955–58) Samuel Beckett
  • The Recognitions William Gaddis
  • The Talented Mr Ripley Patricia Highsmith
  • Lolita Vladimir Nabokov


  • A Legacy Sybille Bedford
  • Train to Pakistan Khushwant Singh


  • Owls Do Cry Janet Frame
  • On the Road Jack Kerouac
  • Angel Elizabeth Taylor
  • The Fountain Overflows Rebecca West


  • Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
  • Anecdotes of Destiny Isak Dinesen
  • From the Terrace John O’Hara
  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Alan Sillitoe


  • Naked Lunch William Burroughs
  • A Heritage and its History Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • The Little Disturbances of Man Grace Paley


  • To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
  • The Balkan Trilogy (1960–65) Olivia Manning
  • The Rabbit Quartet (1960–90) John Updike
  • Jeeves in the Offing P. G. Wodehouse (US: How Right You Are, Jeeves)


  • Catch-22 Joseph Heller
  • A House for Mr Biswas V. S. Naipaul
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
  • Riders in the Chariot Patrick White


  • That’s How it Was Maureen Duffy
  • The Reivers William Faulkner 
  • The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing
  • The Lonely Girl Edna O’Brien (renamed Girl with Green Eyes 1964)
  • Ship of Fools Katherine Anne Porter


  • The Little Girls Elizabeth Bowen
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold John Le Carré
  • The Group Mary McCarthy
  • The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath


  • Herzog Saul Bellow
  • Heartland Wilson Harris
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn Hubert Selby Jr.


  • Memoirs of a Peon Frank Sargeson
  • The Interpreters Wole Soyinka


  • The Magus John Fowles
  • A Jest of God Margaret Laurence
  • Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
  • The Jewel in the Crown Paul Scott
  • Cotters’ England Christina Stead (US: Dark Places of the Heart 1967)


  • The Confessions of Nat Turner William Styron
  • A Grain of Wheat Ngugi Wa Thiong’o


  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country William H. Gass 
  • The Nice and the Good Iris Murdoch


  • The Unfortunates B. S. Johnson
  • Happiness Mary Lavin
  • The Godfather Mario Puzo


  • Fifth Business Robertson Davies
  • Master and Commander Patrick O’Brian


  • The Day of the Jackal Frederick Forsyth
  • St Urbain’s Horseman Mordecai Richler
  • Black List, Section H Francis Stuart


  • The Optimist’s Daughter Eudora Welty


  • The Siege of Krishnapur J. G. Farrell
  • Gravity’s Rainbow Thomas Pynchon


  • Ragtime E. L. Doctorow
  • Heat and Dust Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Changing Places David Lodge


  • The Lost Salt Gift of Blood Alistair MacLeod
  • Interview with the Vampire Anne Rice
  • Saville David Storey


  • Injury Time Beryl Bainbridge
  • Falconer John Cheever
  • A Book of Common Prayer Joan Didion
  • The Ice Age Margaret Drabble


  • Tirra Lirra by the River Jessica Anderson
  • Plumb Maurice Gee
  • The Human Factor Graham Greene
  • The Murderer Roy A. K. Heath
  • The Cement Garden Ian McEwan


  • The Year of the French Thomas Flanagan
  • From the Fifteenth District Mavis Gallant
  • Burger’s Daughter Nadine Gordimer
  • Sleepless Nights Elizabeth Hardwick
  • The Executioner’s Song Norman Mailer
  • A Bend in the River V. S. Naipaul


  • Earthly Powers Anthony Burgess
  • The Transit of Venus Shirley Hazzard
  • Riddley Walker Russell Hoban
  • Lamb Bernard MacLaverty
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow William Maxwell
  • Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
  • A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
  • Puffball Fay Weldon


  • Lanark Alasdair Gray
  • Red Dragon Thomas Harris
  • Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
  • A Flag for Sunrise Robert Stone


  • On the Black Hill Bruce Chatwin
  • Schindler’s Ark Thomas Keneally (US: Schindler’s List)
  • The Color Purple Alice Walker
  • A Boy’s Own Story Edmund White


  • Money Martin Amis
  • Empire of the Sun J. G. Ballard
  • Flaubert’s Parrot Julian Barnes
  • In Custody Anita Desai
  • The Children’s Bach Helen Garner
  • Nation of Fools Balraj Khanna
  • Machine Dreams Jayne Anne Phillips


  • Family and Friends Anita Brookner
  • Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy
  • Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
  • Black Robe Brian Moore
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson


  • The Sportswriter Richard Ford
  • An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A Summons to Memphis Peter Taylor
  • A Dark-Adapted Eye Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)


  • Ellen Foster Kaye Gibbons
  • Double Whammy Carl Hiaasen
  • Misery Stephen King
  • Beloved Toni Morrison
  • In the Skin of a Lion Michael Ondaatje
  • The Other Garden Francis Wyndham


  • Oscar and Lucinda Peter Carey
  • Where I’m Calling From Raymond Carver
  • Paris Trout Pete Dexter
  • The Sugar Mother Elizabeth Jolley
  • Forty-Seventeen Frank Moorhouse
  • Ice-Candy-Man Bapsi Sidhwa
  • Breathing Lessons Anne Tyler
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities Tom Wolfe


  • The Book of Evidence John Banville
  • The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Oscar Hijuelos
  • The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan


  • Possession A. S. Byatt
  • Age of Iron J. M. Coetzee
  • A Home at the End of the World Michael Cunningham
  • The Snapper Roddy Doyle
  • Get Shorty Elmore Leonard
  • Amongst Women John McGahern
  • The Great World David Malouf
  • Friend of My Youth Alice Munro


  • The Regeneration Trilogy (1991–95) Pat Barker
  • Wise Children Angela Carter
  • A Strange and Sublime Address Amit Chaudhuri 
  • American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis
  • The Redundancy of Courage Timothy Mo
  • Mating Norman Rush
  • Downriver Iain Sinclair
  • A Thousand Acres Jane Smiley
  • Reading Turgenev William Trevor
  • Cloudstreet Tim Winton


  • Death and Nightingales Eugene McCabe
  • The Butcher Boy Patrick McCabe
  • The Secret History Donna Tartt


  • The Virgin Suicides Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
  • A River Sutra Gita Mehta
  • The Shipping News E. Annie Proulx
  • My Idea of Fun Will Self
  • A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth
  • Trainspotting Irvine Welsh


  • What a Carve Up! Jonathan Coe (US: The Winshaw Legacy)
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernières (US: Corelli’s Mandolin)
  • The Folding Star Alan Hollinghurst
  • Original Sin P. D. James
  • How Late it Was, How Late James Kelman


  • The Tortilla Curtain T. Coraghessan Boyle
  • The Blue Flower Penelope Fitzgerald
  • A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry


  • Alias Grace Margaret Atwood
  • Asylum Patrick McGrath
  • Last Orders Graham Swift
  • The Night in Question Tobias Wolff


  • Quarantine Jim Crace
  • Underworld Don DeLillo
  • Cold Mountain Charles Frazier
  • American Pastoral Philip Roth


  • The Lady From Guatemala V. S. Pritchett