English lecturer Dr Richard House, whose digitally enhanced novel The Kills was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, reveals his five favourite books.
‘I’m a big fan of these five writers. their styles are distinctive, seductive, commanding, and in writing about the world they show humour and horror, and, best of all, humanity.’
Libra - Don DeLillo
First, foremost, has to come Don DeLillo: this book is like honey (if you want something with more heft, go with Underworld). It’s 50 years since Kennedy’s assassination, and here is a novel which plays intelligently with the paranoia and the grief.
We tell ourselves stories in order to live - Joan Didion
Joan Didion should be required reading for all. In here is a startling frankness and honesty, the title alone sets the tone of this work.This is masterful: how can language be used with such forensic precision, and still have the ability to blow ahole in your heart?
No Lease on Life - Lynne Tillman
Lynne Tillman is one of the world’s best kept writing secrets. No Lease on Life toys with Joyce’s conceit for Ulysses (one man, one day, one city) and happens the next calendar day. Her character, Elizabeth, negotiates one full day in New York with love and frustration, every visitor to the city should be handed this novel on entry. Nothing much actually happens, although you won’t notice that.
2666 - Robert Bolano
Bolano offers a compact history of loss, which starts with a group of academics misbehaving, falling in and out of love with each other and their subject. It’s masterful, daunting, and riddled with violence (watch out).
The Danzig Trilogy - Gunter Grass
Gunter Grass’s Danzig Trilogy includes The Tin Drum, but really, like Bolano, these novels are a single project which maps personal and political histories.