Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

Search results: "ottessa moshfegh" (page 3 of 7)

Does The Dog Die? 30+ Books To Avoid

I have read way too many books lately where (gulp) the dog dies. I hate it. I especially hate it when I have no idea that it’s coming. I know it’s my personal trigger, not shared by everyone, but it bothers me enough that I decided to put together a list, just in case anyone else out there wants to avoid being blindsided.

Does The Dog Die - 30 Books To Avoid - Book List - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Help keep my dog in stylish harnesses and destroyable toys: make a purchase via an affiliate link on this page.

This list is not exhaustive, obviously. I haven’t read every book (though I’m giving it a red hot go). I also haven’t included books where the dog famously dies (e.g., Old Yeller, Where The Red Fern Grows, those “classics”). This is specifically a list of books where the dog dies and you might not see it coming. I’ll update this list of books to avoid as I encounter more.

I’ve also included books with instances of cruelty towards dogs or dog injuries, even if they don’t necessarily die, because I find those just as difficult (so I’m assuming others do, too). Where I’ve published a review, I’ve linked to it, if you’re looking for a bit more context about what happens.

Oh, and I’ve included a few photos of Fyodor Dogstoyevsky too, just to remind you in this misery parade that there are happy, beloved dogs out there living their best lives.

Fyodor Dogstoyevsky wearing a rainbow harness sitting on the grass, next to a copy of Sharp Objects

Books To Avoid Where The Dog Dies

A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Burst by Mary Otis

The Call Of The Wild by Jack London

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

The Days Of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Death In Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Fyodor Dogstoyevsky cuddling his teddy on a soft blanket next to a copy of The Silence Project

Educated by Tara Westover

How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Marriage Act by John Marrs

Milkman by Anna Burns

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Fyodor Dogstoyevsky in a Christmas outfit under someone's arm, behind an open Santa book

She Is Haunted by Paige Clark

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Tender Is The Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

20 Literary Page Turners

The line between “literary fiction” and “page turner” might’ve once been clear, but it’s surely not now. There are plenty of books that can scratch the itch to read something challenging, while simultaneously compelling you through to the very end. Here are twenty literary page turners for when you want the best of both fictional worlds.

20 Literary Page Turners - Book List - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Celeste Ng is the queen of literary page turners, crafting suburban stories that strike at the heart of our collective psychology. Little Fires Everywhere is her second novel, the one that catapulted her to stardom, famously chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club (and adapted by her for the screen, no less). It’s an issue novel, but one that doesn’t beat you over the head with a foregone moral position. It’s a psychological thriller, without the hack writing or “plot twists” you can sniff out a mile off. It’s a family drama with a family that actually feels like a family, rather than a mish-mash of characters convenient to the plot. Read my full review of Little Fires Everywhere here.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler - book laid on a wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I never, never tire of recommending this book. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves doesn’t get the attention or fanfare it deserves, probably because it’s so difficult to review and talk about without “spoiling” it for new readers. It’s a literary page turner with the mother of all twists about 70 pages in, one that turns the entire story on its head. So, you can see why we wouldn’t want to give it away! But, trust me on this, you won’t regret reading this incredible story of family, good intentions, and grief. Read my full review of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves here.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History - Donna Tartt - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The world is waiting impatiently for a new literary page turner from Donna Tartt (she usually releases one about every ten years or so, and she’s past due), but returning to her 1992 novel The Secret History is a good way to pass the time. This is the ultimate dark academia novel, with a very literary sensibility. It’s got all the ingredients: a cabal of classics students, a snowy college setting, a charismatic teacher, and a murder. It’s a book that will push you to interrogate your own moral boundaries, and broaden your understanding of how the people we spend time with influence our decision-making and perception. Read my full review of The Secret History here.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Margaret Atwood has a knack for turning women’s stories into compelling literary page turners. One of the best from her impressive back-list is Alias Grace, in which she offers a fictional account of the real life and crimes of Grace Marks. She and another servant in the same household, James McDermott, were tried and convicted of the 1843 murders of the householder Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper (slash secret lover) Nancy Montgomery. McDermott was sentenced to death and hanged, while Marks’s death sentence was commuted. Was she actually guilty, or was she wrongfully imprisoned? Atwood turns her story inside-out, looking for answers. Read my full review of Alias Grace here.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a super-mega-best-seller around the world, one of the most popular literary page turners of recent years. You might assume that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, or that it’s a fluffy beach read, but there’s more to this one than meets the eye. Eleanor, the titular character, is an odd duck – with good reason, it turns out. She lives a very isolated life, with an invariable routine of work during the week and vodka to pass the time on the weekends, until she falls in love and makes a new friend. That’s when she finally has the opportunity to see what a life beyond “completely fine” might be like. Read my full review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine here.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

In Cold Blood is one of the most controversial literary page turners even now, nearly 60 years after its release. Truman Capote positioned it as the “first true crime novel”, an account of real events that used the techniques of fiction (plot, structure, prose) to bring the reader into the story. The thing is, when you start using fictional techniques, some of that fiction inevitably leaks into the facts. It turns out Capote took a bit of the ol’ creative license with the events of the Clutter murders, to make sure the story flowed and the characters remained consistent with his vision for them. The ethics of that are still up for debate, but it’s a cracking good read, all the same. Read my full review of In Cold Blood here.

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Fleishman Is In Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner - Keeping Up With The Penguins

A bourgeois New York divorce: eternal fodder for literary page turners. But Fleishman Is In Trouble is special, a unique path taken over well-worn ground. First off, it’s a different perspective than we’re used to, first person, masquerading as close-third person. The story isn’t narrated by either of the major players, but by an old friend with her own blind-spots and biases. Second, there’s a mystery to keep you hooked. An ex-wife and mother has disappeared off the face of the earth, and no one can seem to decide or work out why. Third… well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. Read my full review of Fleishman Is In Trouble here.

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh - Keeping Up With The Penguins

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation is one of those literary page turners that just gets better and better, the more time passes and the more it lingers in your mind. The unnamed narrator has an intriguing idea, one we can all surely relate to: that she wants to sleep, for an entire year. No work, no social commitments, just sleep and Whoopi Goldberg movies on tape. That’s about the only relatable aspect of the narrator, though. She’s rich, she’s beautiful, and she’s awful. Just, truly, the worst. And there’s an awakening coming, not just for her but for the whole world.

My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister The Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite - Keeping Up With The Penguins

As much as we all love a bit of mystery and intrigue, sometimes it’s nice to read a literary page turner with the premise laid out completely in the title. My Sister The Serial Killer gives you exactly what it says on the tin: the story of Korede and her sister, Ayoola, who has the unfortunate habit of killing her boyfriends. Braithwaite cleverly mixes crime, romance, and family saga. It’s also set in Lagos, with a remarkably strong sense of location and culture that we might more commonly associate with “place writing” (and a “place” that’s sadly not often encountered by Anglophone readers, to boot). Read my full review of My Sister The Serial Killer here.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you like your literary page turners with a historical/magical bent, The Underground Railroad is a must-read. This semi-speculative alternative history of the antebellum South imagines the metaphorical Underground Railroad as literal, an actual train that ferries enslaved people to other states. One would hope that it delivers them to safety, but that’s not always the case; safety is, of course, a relative concept. The journey is harrowing (to say the least) and each stop on the railroad presents a different manifestation of the reality (and the legacy) of slavery in America. Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for this incredible novel, and Barack Obama called it “terrific”. Read my full review of The Underground Railroad here.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Slap is one of the more imposing literary page turners, given that it’s a bit of a brick (most editions run a minimum of 500 pages). Once you find yourself immersed in the story, though, trust that the pages will fly by. It revolves around a single event, one action that has ripple effects through the lives of everyone in attendance at an average suburban barbecue. A man slaps a misbehaving child who is not his own. This is a book about “the passions and malice that family loyalty can provoke”, the bonds of friendship and parenthood and everything that tests them.

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such A Fun Age - Kiley Reid - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Such A Fun Age pulls a total bait-and-switch, and you can’t even be mad about it! Everything about it – kooky title, bright pink text on the cover, young protagonist – suggests you’re going to get a light-hearted beach read, but actually it’s a literary page turner that exposes the ugliest side of white feminism, class bias, and good intentions. Everyone in this book has an opinion about what should happen after a “racist incident” video goes viral, but everyone has their own horse in the race (so to speak). It’s a far more confronting and challenging read than you might be expecting, but it’s absolutely riveting and totally worthwhile. Read my full review of Such A Fun Age here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Rebecca is one of the classic literary page turners, first published back in 1938. It’s got all the elements of an essential Gothic read – spooky haunted mansion, creepy household staff, withholding handsome men, and nervous young women – but there’s more to it than that. It’s an intensely psychological novel about a twisted marriage, one where the line between neurosis and actual danger is paper thin. Its enduring appeal is due to the fact that it’s a deeply multi-layered literary novel, disguised as romantic fiction. You come for the spooky Gothic love story, but you stay for the evergreen interrogation of women’s subservience to (and subversion of) the rule of men. Read my full review of Rebecca here.

Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason

Sorrow And Bliss - Meg Mason - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Sorrow And Bliss was one of the most talked-about literary page turners of 2022, dividing book clubs and reading groups around the Anglophone world. Ann Patchett recommended it to readers, calling it “brilliantly faceted and extremely funny” – but not everyone agreed. At its bones, it’s a story about a woman whose life has fallen apart multiple times over, due to an untreated mental illness that manifested in her late teens. But it’s also a novel about the cruelty we can inflict on ourselves and others, the power in recognising our own faults, and the difficulty of navigating a path forward out of the rubble of a life.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Plot - Jean Hanff Korelitz - Keeping Up With The Penguins

You ever hear the premise of a story or a rough outline of its plot and think immediately: “Oh, I MUST read that!”? That’s what happened for me with The Plot, and also – coincidentally – the book’s conceit. A down-on-his-luck creative writing instructor has a student come to him with an unbelievably amazing idea for a novel. The instructor is bitter and resentful, until the student suddenly dies – that must mean his plot is up for grabs. Right? This is the kind of high-art literary thriller that will have you flipping pages right past your bedtime, but it’s so cleverly written, you won’t want to shelve it next to your schlocky pot-boilers. Read my full review of The Plot here.

Rabbits For Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum

Rabbits For Food - Binnie Kirshenbaum - Book On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you have a dark sense of humour, and appreciate searing insight into the ridiculousness of social niceties, Rabbits For Food is the literary page turner for you. Bunny lives in New York, she’s 43 years old, a writer, a middle child, and she’s married to a zoologist, with a cat named Jeffrey. She also lives with depression. The story is split into two parts: the events that lead up to her breakdown on New Year’s Eve 2008, and her experiences in the psych ward of a prestigious mental hospital after the fact. The wry, deadpan humour mixes perfectly with the dark side of mental illness in this brilliant, underrated novel. Read my full review of Rabbits For Food here.

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead - Barbara Kingsolver - Keeping Up With The Penguins

For the latest of her literary page turners, Barbara Kingsolver adapted Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, transporting the story to contemporary southern Appalachia. The central character in Kingsolver’s telling is a boy born to a single teenage mother, with nothing to his name besides dead his father’s good looks and the belongings crammed into their trailer home. He goes through foster care, derelict schools, athletic success, opioid addiction, great love and devastating loss. The content of Demon Copperhead might be a bummer (to say the least), but the personable narration stops it feeling like a misery parade. Read my full review of Demon Copperhead here.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage - Tayari Jones - Keeping Up With The Penguins

An American Marriage is the literary page turner that Oprah says has “redefined the traditional American love story”. It’s the story of Roy and Celestial, a middle-class African American couple living in Atlanta. They are educated, employed, upwardly mobile, but even though they’re newlyweds and they’ve “done everything right”, their lives are torn apart when Roy is wrongly convicted of sexually assaulting a woman. It’s not just a book about the incarceration of Black men, though; Jones has taken the maxim of writing about “people and their problems” (as opposed to simply problems personified) seriously. Read my full review of An American Marriage here.

Notes On A Scandal by Zoë Heller

Notes On A Scandal - Zoe Heller - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The subject matter of Notes On A Scandal is repellent (Zoë Heller has said she was inspired by the real-life case of Mary Kay LeTourneau, if that gives you an idea of the relevant trigger warnings) but it’s an intense and fascinating read with superbly crafted characters, each and every one of them delightfully hateful. The story is narrated by Barbara, a veteran school teacher and lonely spinster in her spare time, who believes she has a potential new BFF in the new art teacher, Sheba. But while Barbara is integrating herself into Sheba’s life, Sheba is “falling in love” with one of her students. See? Repellent, but compelling! Read my full review of Notes On A Scandal here.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi - Susanna Clarke - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Piranesi might not be the most literary of the literary page turners – but that’s not because it’s low-quality or schlocky. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a testament to Susanna Clarke’s talent that she manages to weave genre-fiction fantasy elements into Piranesi, this highly literary philosophical novel. It’s a peculiar and enigmatic story, one that will raise questions and challenge your brain in ways you would never have expected from its length or blurb. But even if that’s not your bag, I promise you’ll enjoy reading a book with a narrator who is unreliable but not unlikeable. A refreshing change of pace! Read my full review of Piranesi here.

13 Books About Loneliness And Solitude

It must be tough for authors to write about characters who spend a lot of time alone. Without other characters to bounce off, you’ve got to make their personality and their inner worlds damn compelling, or the reader will lose interest. Here are thirteen books about loneliness and solitude where the author absolutely nails it.

Using an affiliate link on this page to make a purchase really takes the sting out of loneliness! You’ll be sending a small commission my way and we’ll be BFFs.

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Who couldn’t use a whole year off – off work, off social engagements, off interacting with anyone other than the nearest bodega worker – to sleep? That’s what the unnamed narrator is aiming for in My Year Of Rest And Relaxation. What sounds like a sweet dream, though, is given depth by a character who is a walking nightmare. She’s full of herself, terrible to her friends, manipulative, and (as she tells it) absolutely gorgeous. Her self-imposed loneliness and solitude is definitely well-deserved. Ottessa Moshfegh is the queen of unlikeable female characters, and this book is her best and most readable.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi - Susanna Clarke - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Piranesi lives in a house, alone. But this is no ordinary house, and he’s not as alone as you think. Piranesi is a strange and enigmatic book, one that raises philosophical and psychological questions you’d never expect from the blurb. The obvious question is: how did Piranesi end up in the house? What is the house, anyway? It’s big enough to have its own weather systems, after all. Before long, other questions emerge, too. Who is the Other? Is there someone else in the house? Is Piranesi’s simple life of solitude in danger? Read my full review of Piraensi here.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Eleanor Oliphant is an odd duck. It turns out she has good reason to be, and it goes a long way to explaining why she is so terribly, terminally alone. Beyond the occasional chat with one of her colleagues at a graphic design firm, and a weekly conversation with Mummy, she lives a very solitary life. But she’s completely fine with it – isn’t she? Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a real dark horse, a book about very traumatic stuff that became the beach read of the season. And, of course, it shines a light on the issue of endemic loneliness in today’s world, especially among young people. Read my full review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine here.

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

All The Birds Singing - Evie Wyld - Keeping Up With The Penguins

All The Birds, Singing has some of the richest and most evocative place writing you’ll read – fitting, for one of the most lauded books about loneliness of the past decade. Jake Whyte has fled her troubled past to live alone in a remote farmhouse on a craggy British island, lashed by wind and rain, surrounded only by sheep and her disobedient dog. But something is picking off her sheep, one by one, and the horrors creeping up at night seem other-worldly when there’s no one else around to check your perspective. This is a story about solitude, survival, and hard-won redemption.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The beauty of Charles Dickens’s books is that he managed to write about everything. Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find a theme or motif or symbol he didn’t address somewhere. He didn’t write whole books about loneliness specifically, but he did write one of the most iconically alone characters of all time: Miss Havisham, of Great Expectations. She is a wealthy spinster who begrudges being left at the altar, and years later still wears her wedding dress – all day, every day. She rarely leaves the crumbling mansion she shares with the only person she truly loves, her adopted daughter Estella. She has been caricatured and parodied to death, but when you look at her in the original context and story, she’s a fascinating study in solitude. Read my full review of Great Expectations here.

Notes On A Scandal by Zoë Heller

Notes On A Scandal - Zoe Heller - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Notes On A Scandal is narrated by Barbara, a veteran teacher at a London comprehensive school, and a lonely spinster in her spare time. How to put this delicately… she has trouble making friends. Her story begins with the arrival of Sheba Hart, a new and apparently-naive (though very privileged) art teacher. Barbara intuits that they are potential BFFs, though Sheba barely seems to realise she exists at first. This is a twisted and compelling literary thriller about the lengths that loneliness can drive us to – Barbara to effectively stalking Sheba, and Sheba into the arms of one of her students. Read my full review of Notes On A Scandal here.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel DeFoe - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

So, it turns out one of the very first novels written in English is also one of the very first books about loneliness and solitude – who knew? Robinson Crusoe is iconic, the story of a man shipwrecked on an isolated and uninhabited island, forced to find a way to survive for decades on his own. Best of all, Daniel Defoe probably drew his inspiration from many of the real-life stories of castaways that were floating around at the time. The book is definitely a product of its time, so you need to steel yourself for some horrific racism and a determinedly colonial mindset, but you can’t skip it if you’re looking to read your way through all the classic books about loneliness. You just can’t! Read my full review of Robinson Crusoe here.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild - Cheryl Strayed - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Not all books about loneliness and solitude are fictional. Wild is Cheryl Strayed’s account of how and why she found herself hiking over a thousand miles alone on the Pacific Crest Trail. There are two stories that weave together across the memoir: her mother’s death (and we get all of the weren’t-we-so-poor-and-dysfunctional-but-we-loved-each-other-so-much backstory), and the at-times comical dire realities of a haphazard solo hike through the wilderness. It’s like Eat, Pray, Love meets Survivor – and inspirational as heck. If Strayed can survive a hike of that magnitude on her own, you can get through a lonely Saturday night at home. Read my full review of Wild here.

Bonus: for similar true wilderness survival books about loneliness and solitude, check out Into The Wild by Jon Krakaeur.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupery - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Little Prince has a strange history (like most timeless classic children’s books). The author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was a French aviator, childless, and (at the time of writing) living under grueling war-time exile. So, it’s hardly surprising that his story revolved around an aviator, crash-landed in the desert, entirely alone except for an alien prince who guides him – literally and spiritually. It’s a story that manages to be both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, which probably explains its enduring popularity. It’s now the most-translated French book in the world, appearing now in over 300 languages and dialects. Over 140 million copies have been sold worldwide. Read my full review of The Little Prince here.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian - Andy Weir - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

When you think about loneliness, you’re probably envisaging the terrestrial kind. Alone in an apartment, or on a beach at night, or something in that vein. Andy Weir takes solitude to a whole new level in The Martian. Astronaut Mark Watney is literally the most alone person in the universe: stranded by himself on Mars, after an accident led his fellow interplanetary travellers to believe he was dead. He’s very much alive, and faced with the challenge of a lifetime – figuring out how to survive in solitude on the red planet, until the next mission arrives. It sounds daunting, but this is a surprisingly upbeat and fun sci-fi novel, brightened by Watney’s sense of humour and can-do attitude. Read my full review of The Martian here.

The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man And The Sea - Ernest Hemingway - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It’s kind of sad that The Old Man And The Sea was Ernest Hemingway’s last book, but also poetic. It’s a book about a lonely old man, desperate and hungry, searching for a mythical fish and being dragged out to sea by it. Hemingway himself was aging, and undoubtedly lonely with a string of divorces and trashed friendships behind him. The parallels are clear, if not particularly imaginative. Still, it’s a powerful read, and you could spend years studying the metaphors about solitude that can be found in this slim little tome. Read my full review of The Old Man And The Sea here.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where The Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The “Marsh Girl”, Kya Clark, lives alone on the land. Her only friends are the gulls, and her home is the sand of the North Carolina coastline. The people in the village of Barkley Cove have gossiped about her for years. When a handsome man turns up dead, she’s the first person they suspect. But we fear what we don’t know, and Kya is more than they realise. Strangely, Kya’s loneliness is actually a balm, a protective shield against the terrors of the world. It’s when she reaches out, searching for love and recognition, that she runs into trouble. Where The Crawdads Sing is one of the best-selling books about loneliness in recent memory.

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood - Book Laid Face Up on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Sorry to end this list on a bum note, but A Single Man is one of the most devastating books about loneliness and solitude – and you must read it! It’s the story of a day in the life of (you guessed it!) a single man, George, who is silently mourning the death of the love of his life. See, George is gay, and could never publicly share his relationship, or openly grieve his loss. George is desperately lonely in the wake of Jim’s death, and he seeks connection anywhere he can find it, resenting it all the while. It’s a beautiful story, and a sad one, and strangely funny in a very-dark-comedy kind of way. Read my full review of A Single Man here.

The Big List Of Author Birthdays

Literally what it says on the tin: a big list of author birthdays. I tracked down the birthday of every author I could think of, and put them all into one big list, just for you! If you can think of any author of note I’ve missed, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can add them in.

The Big List Of Author Birthdays - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Author Birthdays in January

1 January: E.M. Forster – Read my full review of A Passage To India here.
1 January: J.D. Salinger – Read my full review of The Catcher In The Rye here.

2 January: Andre Aciman – Read my full review of Call Me By Your Name here.

3 January: J.R.R. Tolkien

7 January: Zora Neale Hurston – Read my full review of Their Eyes Were Watching God here.

9 January: Simone de Beauvoir – Read my full review of She Came To Stay here.
9 January: Philippa Gregory – Read my full review of The Other Boleyn Girl here.
9 January: Wilbur Smith
9 January: Judith Krantz

11 January: Jasper Fforde – Read my full review of The Eyre Affair here.
11 January: Diana Gabaldon – Read my full review of Outlander here.

12 January: Jack London – Read my full review of The Call Of The Wild here.
12 January: Haruki Murakami
12 January: Julia Quinn – Read my full review of Bridgerton here.

17 January: Anne Brontë – Read my full review of The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall here.
17 January: Emily M. Danforth – Read my full review of The Miseducation Of Cameron Post here.

19 January: Edgar Allan Poe

21 January: Casey McQuiston – Read my full review of Red, White & Royal Blue here.

22 January: Stephen Graham Jones

24 January: Edith Wharton – Read my full review of The Age Of Innocence here.

25 January: Stephen Chbosky Read my full review of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower here.
25 January: Virginia Woolf – Read my full review of Mrs Dalloway here.

27 January: Lewis Carroll – Read my full review of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland here.

29 January: Olga Tokarczuk
29 January: Anton Chekhov

30 January: Susannah Cahalan – Read my full review of The Great Pretender here.

31 January: Norman Mailer

Author Birthdays in February

2 February: James Joyce – Read my full review of Ulysses here.
2 February: Ayn Rand

7 February: Charles Dickens – Read my full review of David Copperfield here.
7 February: Karen Joy Fowler – Read my full review of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves here.

8 February: Rachel Cusk – Read my full review of Second Place here.
8 February: John Grisham

9 February: J.M. Coetzee
9 February: Alice Walker – Read my full review of The Color Purple here.

12 February: Judy Blume

13 February: Samantha Irby – Read my full review of Wow, No Thank You here.

18 February: Toni Morrison – Read my full review of Beloved here.

19 February: Jonathan Lethem – Read my full review of The Arrest here.
19 February: Carson McCullers – Read my full review of The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter here.
19 February: Amy Tan – Read my full review of The Joy Luck Club here.
19 February: Jeff Kinney

20 February: Sally Rooney – Read my full review of Normal People here.

21 February: W.H. Auden
21 February: David Foster Wallace
21 February: Anaïs Nin – Read my full review of Delta of Venus here.

23 February: Bernard Cornwell

24 February: Gillian Flynn – Read my full review of Gone Girl here.
24 February: Yuval Noah Harari
24 February: Rainbow Rowell – Read my full review of Fangirl here.

25 February: Anthony Burgess – Read my full review of A Clockwork Orange here.

26 February: Victor Hugo

27 February: Joshilyn Jackson – Read my full review of Mother May I here.
27 February: John Steinbeck – Read my full review of The Grapes Of Wrath here.

Author Birthdays in March

2 March: Dr Seuss

4 March: Khaled Hosseini – Read my full review of The Kite Runner here.

5 March: Sarah J. Maas

6 March: Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Read my full review of One Hundred Years Of Solitude here.

7 March: Anna Burns – Read my full review of Milkman here.
7 March: Bret Easton Ellis – Read my full review of American Psycho here.
7 March: E.L. James

8 March: Jeffrey Eugenides – Read my full review of Middlesex here.
8 March: Kenneth Grahame – Read my full review of The Wind In The WIllows here.

9 March: Lindy West

11 March: Douglas Adams – Read my full review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy here.

12 March: Jack Kerouac – Read my full review of On The Road here.
12 March: Maggie Nelson – Read my full review of The Argonauts here.
12 March: Ruth Ozeki – Read my full review of A Tale For The Time Being here.

19 March: Philip Roth – Read my full review of Portnoy’s Complaint here.

21 March: Oyinkan Braithwaite – Read my full review of My Sister, The Serial Killer here.

22 March: James Patterson

25 March: Gloria Steinem

26 March: Patrick Süskind

Author Birthdays in April

1 April: Jesmyn Ward

2 April: Sofie Laguna – Read my full review of Infinite Splendours here.

4 April: Maya Angelou – Read my full review of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings here.
4 April: Delia Owens

5 April: Caitlin Moran

6 April: Leigh Bardugo

8 April: Barbara Kingsolver – Read my full review of Demon Copperhead here.

12 April: Jon Krakauer

13 April: Samuel Beckett – Read my full review of Waiting For Godot here.
13 April: Michel Faber – Read my full review of Under The Skin here.

15 April: Jeffrey Archer
15 April: Henry James – Read my full review of The Golden Bowl here.

17 April: Nick Hornby

21 April: Charlotte Brontë – Read my full review of Jane Eyre here.

22 April: Janet Evanovich
22 April: Vladimir Nabokov

23 April: William Shakespeare
23 April: Trent Dalton

24 April: Sue Grafton

26 April: Anita Loos – Read my full review of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes here.

27 April: Patricia Lockwood – Read my full review of No One Is Talking About This here.

28 April: Harper Lee – Read my full review of To Kill A Mockingbird here.
28 April: Terry Pratchett – Read my full review of The Colour Of Magic here.
**Psst: if you’re scrolling through this list to look for which authors share your birthday, I don’t blame you. This is mine!

Author Birthdays in May

1 May: Joseph Heller – Read my full review of Catch-22 here.

5 May: Hank Green

7 May: Peter Carey – Read my full review of True History Of The Kelly Gang here.

8 May: Thomas Pynchon

9 May: Richard Adams – Read my full review of Watership Down here.

10 May: Jon Ronson

13 May: Daphne du Maurier – Read my full review of Rebecca here.

18 May: Lionel Shriver – Read my full review of We Need To Talk About Kevin here.

19 May: Nora Ephron – Read my full review of Heartburn here.
19 May: Jodi Picoult – Read my full review of My Sister’s Keeper here.

20 May: Ottessa Moshfegh – Read my full review of Lapvona here.

22 May: Arthur Conan Doyle – Read my full review of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes here.

25 May: Robert Ludlam

27 May: Maggie O’Farrell – Read my full review of Instructions For A Heatwave here.

28 May: Muriel Barbery – Read my full review of The Elegance Of The Hedgehog here.
28 May: Patrick White
28 May: Bernardine Evaristo – Read my full review of Girl, Woman, Other here.
28 May: Ian Fleming

31 May: Walt Whitman

Author Birthdays in June

1 June: Colleen McCullough

2 June: Fredrik Backman – Read my full review of A Man Called Ove here.
2 June: Thomas Hardy

5 June: Ken Follett
5 June: Rick Riordan

6 June: VC Andrews – Read my full review of Flowers In The Attic here.
6 June: Alexander Pushkin

7 June: Elizabeth Bowen – Read my full review of The Heat Of The Day here.
7 June: Adam Silvera – Read my full review of They Both Die At The End here.

8 June: Nino Haratischvili – Read my full review of The Eighth Life here.

9 June: Paul Beatty – Read my full review of The Sellout here.
9 June: Patricia Cornwell

10 June: Saul Bellow – Read my full review of The Adventures Of Augie March here.

12 June: Adam Kay

13 June: Audrey Niffenegger – Read my full review of The Time Traveler’s Wife here.

14 June: Harriet Beecher Stowe

16 June: Joyce Carol Oates
16 June: Andy Weir – Read my full review of The Martian here.
16 June: Evie Wyld – Read my full review of The Bass Rock here.

18 June: Richard Powers

19 June: Salman Rushdie

21 June: Ian McEwan – Read my full review of Atonement here.
21 June: Jean-Paul Sartre

22 June: Dan Brown

23 June: Markus Zusak – Read my full review of The Book Thief here.

25 June: George Orwell
25 June: Eric Carle

28 June: Kate Atkinson – Read my full review of Life After Life here.
28 June: Jean-Jacques Rousseau

29 June: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Read my full review of The Little Prince here.

Author Birthdays in July

2 July: Hermann Hesse

3 July: Franz Kafka
3 July: Carmen Maria Machado – Read my full review of Her Body And Other Parties here.
3 July: Matt Haig – Read my full review of The Midnight Library here.

4 July: Nathaniel Hawthorne – Read my full review of The Scarlet Letter here.

6 July: Jonas Jonasson – Read my full review of The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared here.
6 July: Hilary Mantel

8 July: Janet Malcolm
8 July: Erin Morgenstern – Read my full review of The Starless Sea here.

9 July: Dean Koontz
9 July: Barbara Cartland

15 July: Clive Cussler

18 July: Elizabeth Gilbert
18 July: William Makepeace Thackeray – Read my full review of Vanity Fair here.
18 July: Hunter S. Thompson

20 July: Cormac McCarthy

21 July: Ernest Hemingway – Read my full review of The Sun Also Rises here.

23 July: Raymond Chandler – Read my full review of The Big Sleep here.
23 July: Lauren Groff

24 July: Alexandre Dumas
24 July: Madeline Miller

26 July: Aldous Huxley – Read my full review of Brave New World here.

28 July: Beatrix Potter

30 July: Emily Brontë – Read my full review of Wuthering Heights here.
30 July: Celeste Ng – Read my full review of Little Fires Everywhere here.

Author Birthdays in August

1 August: Herman Melville – Read my full review of Moby Dick here.

2 August: Isabel Allende

4 August: Tim Winton

5 August: David Baldacci

10 August: Suzanne Collins – Read my full review of The Hunger Games here.

11 August: Enid Blyton

12 August: Ann M. Martin

14 August: Danielle Steel
14 August: Sayaka Murata – Read my full review of Convenience Store Woman here.

17 August: Jonathan Franzen

19 August: Samuel Richardson – Read my full review of Clarissa here.
19 August: Veronica Roth – Read my full review of Divergent here.

21 August: Alexander Chee

22 August: Ray Bradbury – Read my full review of Fahrenheit 451 here.

23 August: Curtis Sittenfeld – Read my full review of Rodham here.

24 August: Paulo Coelho – Read my full review of The Alchemist here.
24 August: Stephen Fry – Read my full review of Mythos here.
24 August: John Green – Read my full review of The Fault In Our Stars here.
24 August: Alexander McCall-Smith
24 August: Jean Rhys
24 August: Ali Smith
24 August: Jorge Luis Borges

25 August: Martin Amis – Read my full review of Money here.

26 August: Christopher Isherwood – Read my full review of A Single Man here.

27 August: Jeanette Winterson – Read my full review of Frankissstein here.

29 August: Mieko Kawakami – Read my full review of Breasts And Eggs here.

30 August: Mary Shelley – Read my full review of Frankenstein here.

31 August: Dolly Alderton

Author Birthdays in September

3 September: Malcolm Gladwell
3 September: Jenny Han – Read my full review of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before here.

4 September: Alex Michaelides – Read my full review of The Silent Patient here.

6 September: Robert M. Pirsig – Read my full review of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance here.

7 September: Jennifer Egan

9 September: Leo Tolstoy – Read my full review of Anna Karenina here.

10 September: Alison Bechdel

11 September: D.H. Lawrence – Read my full review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover here.

13 September: Roald Dahl
13 September: E. Lockhart – Read my full review of We Were Liars here.

14 September: Geraldine Brooks

15 September: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
15 September: Agatha Christie – Read my full review of And Then There Were None here.

17 September: Cheryl Strayed – Read my full review of Wild here.

19 September: William Golding – Read my full review of Lord Of The Flies here.

20 September: George R.R. Martin – Read my full review of A Game Of Thrones here.
20 September: Angie Thomas – Read my full review of The Hate U Give here.
20 September: Hanya Yanagihara – Read my full review of A Little Life here.

21 September: Stephen King – Read my full review of Misery here.
21 September: H.G. Wells

24 September: F. Scott Fitzgerald – Read my full review of The Great Gatsby here.

25 September: William Faulkner – Read my full review of As I Lay Dying here.
25 September: Kristin Hannah
25 September: bell hooks

26 September: Mark Haddon
26 September: T.S. Eliot

29 September: Miguel de Cervantes – Read my full review of Don Quixote here.
29 September: Elizabeth Gaskell

30 September: Truman Capote – Read my full review of In Cold Blood here.

Author Birthdays in October

2 October: Tara Moss

4 October: Rupi Kaur
4 October: Anne Rice – Read my full review of Interview With The Vampire here.
4 October: Jackie Collins

7 October: Sherman Alexie – Read my full review of The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian here.
7 October: Rachel Kushner

8 October: R.L. Stine

10 October: Nora Roberts

14 October: Miles Franklin – Read my full review of My Brilliant Career here.
14 October: Kate Grenville

15 October: Italo Calvino – Read my full review of If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler here.
15 October: Roxane Gay – Read my full review of Bad Feminist here.

16 October: Oscar Wilde – Read my full review of The Picture Of Dorian Gray here.

17 October: Arthur Miller

19 October: Tracy Chevalier

21 October: Carrie Fisher – Read my full review of The Princess Diarist here.
21 October: Ursula K Le Guin

22 October: Doris Lessing – Read my full review of The Golden Notebook here.
22 October: Ann Rule – Read my full review of The Stranger Beside Me here.
22 October: Debbie Macomber

23 October: Augusten Burroughs
23 October: Michael Crichton

24 October: Emma Donoghue – Read my full review of Room here.
24 October: Amor Towles

25 October: Zadie Smith

26 October: Taffy Brodesser-Akner – Read my full review of Fleishman Is In Trouble here.

27 October: Anthony Doerr – Read my full review of All The Light We Cannot See here.
27 October: Sylvia Plath – Read my full review of The Bell Jar here.

28 October: Evelyn Waugh – Read my full review of Scoop here.

29 October: Lee Child

31 October: Susan Orlean – Read my full review of The Library Book here.

Author Birthdays in November

1 November: Susanna Clarke – Read my full review of Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell here.

6 November: Michael Cunningham – Read my full review of The Hours here.
6 November: Colson Whitehead – Read my full review of The Underground Railroad here.

7 November: Albert Camus
7 November: Helen Garner – Read my full review of Monkey Grip here.

8 November: Kazuo Ishiguro – Read my full review of Never Let Me Go here.
8 November: Julie Murphy – Read my full review of Dumplin’ here.
8 November: Bram Stoker – Read my full review of Dracula here.

10 November: Caroline Kepnes
10 November: Neil Gaiman

11 November: Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Read my full review of Crime And Punishment here.
11 November: Min Jin Lee
11 November: Kurt Vonnegut

13 November: Robert Louis Stevenson – Read my full review of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde here.

15 November: Liane Moriarty – Read my full review of Big Little Lies here.

16 November: José Saramago – Read my full review of Death At Intervals here.

17 November: Becky Albertalli

18 November: Margaret Atwood – Read my full review of The Handmaid’s Tale here.

20 November: Don DeLillo

21 November: Andrew Sean Greer – Read my full review of Less here.

22 November: George Eliot – Read my full review of Middlemarch here.
22 November: Lisa Genova – Read my full review of Still Alice here.

24 November: Marlon James
24 November: Arundhati Roy

26 November: James Dashner – Read my full review of The Maze Runner here.

28 November: Richard Osman

29 November: Louisa May Alcott – Read my full review of Little Women here.
29 November: C.S. Lewis

30 November: Tayari Jones – Read my full review of An American Marriage here.
30 November: David Nicholls
30 November: Jonathan Swift – Read my full review of Gulliver’s Travels here.
30 November: Mark Twain – Read my full review of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn here.

Author Birthdays in December

2 December: Ann Patchett
2 December: George Saunders

5 December: Joan Didion

8 December: Bill Bryson – Read my full review of A Short History Of Nearly Everything here.

10 December: Emily Dickinson

11 December: Colleen Hoover

14 December: Shirley Jackson – Read my full review of The Lottery And Other Stories here.

15 December: Edna O’Brien – Read my full review of Girl here.

16 December: Jane Austen – Read my full review of Pride & Prejudice here.
16 December: Philip K. Dick – Read my full review of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? here.

19 December: Brandon Sanderson

20 December: Alain de Botton – Read my full review of Religion For Atheists here.
20 December: Taylor Jenkins Reid – Read my full review of Daisy Jones And The Six here.

21 December: Benjamin Disraeli – Read my full review of Sybil here.

23 December: Donna Tartt – Read my full review of The Secret History here.

24 December: Mary Higgins Clark
24 December: Stephenie Meyer

26 December: Henry Miller – Read my full review of Tropic Of Cancer here.
26 December: David Sedaris – Read my full review of Me Talk Pretty One Day here.

30 December: Rudyard Kipling – Read my full review of Kim here.

31 December: Nicholas Sparks

10 Books With Unnamed Narrators

If you’re not great with names, getting to the end of a book and realising that you don’t remember the narrator’s name might not be a big deal. But for the rest of us, it can be unsettling to realise you don’t know the most basic fact about the character you’ve spent 300+ pages with. Writers have many reasons for leaving their narrators unnamed, some of them good and some of them silly. Here are ten books with unnamed narrators.

10 Books With Unnamed Narrators - Book List - Keeping Up With The Penguins
I’ll never forget your name if you use an affiliate link on this page to make a purchase, you’ll be sending me a small commission 🙂

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Rebecca is one of the classic books with unnamed narrators. People who haven’t read it usually – quite reasonably – assume that the titular character is the main one, the one telling the story, but du Maurier has a surprise in store. The narrator is, in fact, the woman who marries Rebecca’s widower. She moves into Rebecca’s house, becomes mistress of Rebecca’s staff, and despite her best efforts, can’t escape the looming specter of Rebecca everywhere she turns. The fact that du Maurier never tells us her name has been interpreted many ways, but most readers accept that it symbolises the narrator’s submission both in the narrative and in the broader social context of women’s limited roles. Read my full review of Rebecca here.

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The narrator of My Year Of Rest And Relaxation is one of the most repellent yet fascinating characters in all of contemporary fiction. The fact that she’s an unnamed narrator is almost beside the point. This young woman is, by her own admission, laughably privileged, incredibly hot, and unbelievably self-absorbed. She decides to use her wealth and security to live the clinomaniac dream of sleeping for an entire year. She hoodwinks an eccentric psychiatrist into prescribing massive doses of sleeping pills, and takes to her bed. Ottessa Moshfegh is the master of crafting compelling characters who are simultaneously revolting, and this unnamed narrator is one of her finest.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I'm Thinking Of Ending Things - Iain Reid - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It won’t take you long to realise that something’s hinky in I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, and the fact that the narrator doesn’t have a name is your first clue. She’s in a car with her boyfriend (who is named, why?), driving to his parent’s place to meet them for the first time, and all the while she’s thinking about ending things. When they reach the farmhouse, things just get weirder. I’m not ashamed to admit that this book terrified the pants off me, and I read it all in one night to avoid having nightmares by putting it down and going to bed half-way through. So, if you like unnamed narrators and nightmare fuel, this is the book for you! Read my full review of I’m Thinking Of Ending Things here.

Milkman by Anna Burns

Milkman - Anna Burns - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The narrator of Anna Burns’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Milkman, is technically unnamed… but also kind of not? She’s also not special, in the narrative world Burns has created. The city in which she lives isn’t named (even though it’s pretty obviously Belfast), and neither are her family members, her “maybe-boyfriend”, nor her stalker. She refers to herself as “maybe-girlfriend” and “middle sister”, so she has monikers of sorts, but as far as Official “Real” Names go? Nada! This is a heavy-handed but effective allusion to the culture of silence that surrounded the Troubles. Read my full review of Milkman here.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout - Paul Beatty - Keeping Up With The Penguins

What is it with Booker Prize winners and unnamed narrators? Here’s another one: The Sellout. It’s a biting satire about a young man at the heart of a race trial that goes all the way to the Supreme Court… but it’s not what you think. After his controversial psychologist father dies, leaving not a penny and no trace of his promised “memoir” that would solve the family’s financial woes, our “hero” takes the questionable path of seeking to reinstate slavery and segregation in his small Californian town. This audacious novel will have your jaw dropping and your sides splitting, from start to finish. Read my full review of The Sellout here.

Apex Hides The Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Apex Hides The Hurt - Colson Whitehead - Keeping Up With The Penguins

What would you expect from a “comic tour de force about identity, history, and the adhesive bandage industry”? Pretty much everything you get in Apex Hides The Hurt, one of Colson Whitehead’s lesser-known but no-less-wonderful novels. It gets the gong for the best use of irony when it comes to unnamed narrators, because in this case, the anonymous protagonist is a nomenclature consultant. That’s right, you’ve got an unnamed narrator who is an expert on names – how funny is that? This is a fun read with a twist, perfect to power through on a quiet weekend.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police - Yoko Ogawa - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Memory Police is a Kafkaesque novel that clearly owes a huge debt to Nineteen Eighty-Four. The unnamed narrator in this one is a novelist, living on an unnamed island which is under the control of the titular authoritarian force. Through an unexplained and seemingly random mechanism, everyone who lives on the island is forced to “forget” objects or concepts. Uniformed enforcement officers patrol the island, making sure the “forgotten” items are truly gone and anyone who gives the appearance of remembering them is disappeared. I suppose unnamed narrators are par for the course when anything could lose its name at any time? Read my full review of The Memory Police here.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

One of the most iconic unnamed narrators of the fifty years is undoubtedly Offred, the pseudonymous protagonist of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Well, if you’re a purist, anyway. If you read the original text as a standalone, the woman drafted into reproducing for infertile couples under the Gilead regime is forced to shed her name, so the reader never learns it – she is called “Offred”, as in “of” the man who “owns” her. If you’ve read or watched any of the accompanying stories – the sequel The Testaments, or the HBO adaptation – you’ll know that Offred’s true name (well, more than one of them, actually) was revealed. But the fact remains that stripping her of her name was an important symbol in Atwood’s feminist dystopia. Read my full review of The Handmaid’s Tale here.

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

Pizza Girl - Jean Kyoung Frazier - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Okay, technically – technically – the titular character in Pizza Girl does, eventually, get a name. But she’s unnamed for so much of the novel, I’ve decided she belongs in the hall of unnamed narrators. Besides, her name is mentioned so briefly, skimmers would totally miss it. The eighteen-year-old pizza delivery driver is a lost soul, desperate to drum up some kind of excitement about her pregnancy (the way everyone else in her life seems to) and determined not to grieve the loss of her alcoholic father. Being such a searing insight into depression and loss of direction, it just makes sense that she would be nameless. Read my full review of Pizza Girl here.

If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura

If Cats Disappeared From The World - Genki Kawamura - Keeping Up With The Penguins

In If Cats Disappeared From The World, the cat has the cutest name ever: Cabbage! It’s almost cute enough to make you overlook the fact that the narrator remains unnamed. He has a fascinating story to tell, though. The young postman learns that he has only months to live, and shortly thereafter, the devil shows up to offer him a deal. Our unnamed narrator will be offered an extra day of life, as long as he chooses one thing to disappear from the world forever. “With each object that disappears, the postman reflects on the life he’s lived, his joys and regrets, and the people he’s loved and lost,” (as per the blurb).

« Older posts Newer posts »