Money by Martin Amis (1984). Subtitled “A Suicide Note,” this novel follows the death spiral of hedonistic film director John Self as he wrestles with Hollywood stars, New York producers, a flauntingly unfaithful London girlfriend, an anonymous ca.ller that seems to be coming from inside his head, and the writer Martin Amis.
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson (1993). In language that is as direct and spare as the title, twelve-year-old David Hayden tells of the summer when his father, the sheriff of Mercer County, Montana, is forced to choose between justice and family.
Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn (2006). Writing with the scathing wit and bright perceptiveness, English author Edward St. Aubyn creates a complex family portrait that examines the shifting allegiances between mothers, sons, and husbands. The novel’s perspective ricochets among all members of the Melrose family—the family featured in St.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925). This masterpiece of concision and interior monologue recounts events in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a delicate, upper-class London wife and mother, as she prepares for a party at her home on a single day in June 1923.
My Ántonia by Willa Cather (1918). Featuring a beleaguered central heroine who endures her father’s suicide, is driven to work in the fields, and is seduced, abandoned, and left pregnant, this ought to be a tale of tragic inevitability. Instead, this beautifully elegiac novel offers an unsentimental paean to the prairie, to domesticity, and to memory itself.
Nana by Émile Zola (1880). Nana is a low-born courtesan who succeeds among the French elite. Zola meant his heroine to represent the corruption of the Second Empire under the twin stresses of hedonism and capitalism. But like some uncontrollable genie uncorked from a bottle, she becomes the greatest femme fatale since Helen of Troy.
Native Son by Richard Wright (1945). Set in Chicago in the 1930s, this novel tells the story of Bigger Thomas, an African American twisted and trapped by penury and racism. Bigger is on his way out of poverty when he accidently murders his employer’s daughter, a white woman.
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938). Thisis the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified at his own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogues his every feeling and sensation.
New Grub Street by George Gissing (1891). One of the earliest examples of English naturalism, this grim chronicle of literary life in late-Victorian London bitterly portrays its author’s own struggles to live from his writing.
Nice Work by David Lodge (1988). Opposites attract in this third volume of Lodge’s campus trilogy that includes Changing Places (1975) and Small World (1984). A British government program aimed at bridging the gap between the academy and industry pairs a leftist feminist academic and a hard-driving businessman.