The Best Novels of the 20th Century

Selected by piero scaruffi

Best novels | Best poetry | Best theater | Timelines of literatures
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(Only one novel per writer, in chronological order)

Thomas Mann (Germany): "Buddenbrooks" (1901)
Henry James (USA): "The Golden Bowl" (1904)
Joseph Conrad (Britain): "Nostromo" (1904)
Luigi Pirandello (Italy): "The Late Mattia Pascal" (1904)
Edward-Morgan Forster (Britain): "Howards End" (1910)
Boris Bugayev "Andrey Bely" (Russia): "Petersburg" (1912)
Franz Kafka (Austria): "The Trial" (1915)
James Joyce (Ireland): "Ulysses" (1922)
Marcel Proust (France): "In Search of Lost Time" (1922)
Italo Svevo (Italy): "Zeno's Conscience" (1923)
Andre' Gide (France): "The Counterfeiters" (1925)
Francis-Scott Fitzgerald (USA): "The Great Gatsby" (1925)
Arthur Schnitzler: "Traumnovelle/ Dream Story" (1925)
Virginia Woolf (Britain): "To the Lighthouse" (1927)
Julien Green (France): "Adrienne Mesurat" (1927)



Mihail Sadoveanu (Romania): "Ancuta's Inn" (1928)
Stanislaw Witkiewicz (Poland): "Insatiability" (1930)
(Apologies: i haven't had time to find pictures after 1930)
Vladislav Vancura (Czech): "Marketa Lazarova" (1931)
Louis-Ferdinand Celine (France): "Journey to the End of the Night" (1932)
William Faulkner (USA): "Light in August" (1932)
Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (Spain): "San Manuel Bueno Martir" (1933)
Robert Musil (Austria): "The Man Without Qualities" (1933)
Karel Capek (Czech): "An Ordinary Life" (1934)
Elias Canetti (Germany): "Auto Da Fe" (1935)
Flann O'Brien (Ireland): "At Swim-two-birds" (1939)
Joseph Roth (Austria): "The Legend of the Holy Drinker" (1939)
Mikhail Bulgakov (Russia): "The Master and Margarita" (1940)
Albert Camus (France): "The Stranger" (1942)
Hermann Broch (Austria): "The Death of Virgil" (1945)
Julien Gracq (France): "A Dark Stranger" (1945)
Malcolm Lowry (Britain): "Under the Volcano" (1947)
Tanizaki Junichiro (Japan): "Makioka Sisters" (1948)
Cesare Pavese (Italy): "The Moon and the Bonfires" (1950)
Alejo Carpentier (Cuba): "The Lost Steps" (1953)
Rafael Sanchez-Ferlosio (Spain): "The River El Jarama" (1955)
William Gaddis (USA): "The Recognitions" (1955)
Elsa Morante (Italy): "Arthur's Island" (1957)
Patrick White (Australia): "Voss" (1957)
Augusto Roa-Bastos (Paraguay): "Son of Man" (1959)
Wilson Harris (Guyana): "Palace of the Peacock" (1960)
Ernesto Sabato (Argentina): "Of Heroes and Tombs" (1961)
Hugo Claus (Belgium): "Amazement" (1962)
Beppe Fenoglio (Italy): "A Private Question" (1963)
CarloEmilio Gadda (Italy): "Acquainted with Grief" (1963)
Ismail Kadare (Albania): "The General of the Dead Army" (1963)
Janet Frame (New Zealand): "Scented Gardens For The Blind" (1963)
Julio Cortazar (Argentina): "Hopscotch" (1963)
Carlos Fuentes (Mexico): "The Death of Artemio Cruz" (1964)
Saul Bellow (USA): "Herzog" (1964)
Clarice Lispector (Brazil, 1920): "A Paixao Segundo G.H./ The Passion According to G.H." (1964)
John Barth (USA): "Giles Goat Boy" (1966)
Jose Lezama-Lima (Cuba): "Paradise" (1966)
Mario Vargas-Llosa (Peru): "The Green House" (1966)
Miguel Delibes (Spain): "Five Hours with Mario" (1966)
Gabriel Garcia-Marquez (Colombia): "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (1967)
Milan Kundera (Czech): "The Joke" (1967)
Thomas Bernhard (Austria): "Gargoyles" (1967)
Vladimir Nabokov (Russia): "Ada" (1969)
Michel Tournier (France): "The Ogre" (1970)
Danilo Kis (Serbia): "Hourglass" (1972)
Thomas Pynchon (USA): "Gravity's Rainbow" (1973)
Andreas Embirikos (Greece): "The Great Eastern" (1975)
Imre Kertesz (Hungary): "Fateless" (1975)
Juan Goytisolo (Spain): "Juan the Landless" (1975)
Sasha Sokolov (Canada): "School For Fools" (1976)
Barbara Pym (Britain): "Quartet in Autumn" (1977)
Josef Skvorecky (Czech): "The Engineer of Human Souls" (1977)
Georges Perec (France): "La Vie Mode d'Emploi/ A User's Manual" (1978)
Cormac McCarthy (USA): "Suttree" (1979)
Italo Calvino (Italy): "If On a Winter's Night a Traveler" (1979)
Nadine Gordimer (South Africa): "Burger's Daughter" (1979)
Salman Rushdie (India): "Midnight's Children" (1980)
Elfriede Jelinek (Germany): "Die Ausgesperrten/ Wonderful Times" (1980)
German Espinosa (Colombia): "The Weaver of Crowns" (1982)
Uwe Johnson (Germany): "Jahrestage/ Anniversaries" (1983)
Jose Saramago (Portugal): "The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis" (1984)
Mahmud Dowlatabadi (Iran): "Kelidar" (1984)
Murakami Haruki (Japan): "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" (1985)
Laszlo Krasznahorkai (1954): "Satantango" (1985)
Peer Hultberg (Denmark): "Requiem" (1985)
Peter Nadas (1942): "Emlekiratok Konyve/ Book of Memoirs" (1986)
Joseph McElroy (USA): "Women and Men" (1987)
Milorad Pavic (Serbia): "Dictionary of the Khazars" (1988)
Gao Xingjian/Xingjian (China): "Soul Mountain" (1989)
Antonia Byatt (Britain): "Possession" (1990)
Agustina Bessa-Luis (Portugal): "Abraham's Valley" (1991)
(From this point on, it is very tentative. I write ++ where i am sure)

Su Tong (China, 1963): "Wives and Concubines" (1990)
Abraham Yehoshua (Hebrew, 1936): "Mar Manni/ Mr Mani" (1990)
Dacia Maraini (1936): "La Lunga Vita Di Marianna Ucria" (1990)
Imre Kertesz (1929): "Kaddis a Meg Nem Szuletetett Gyermekert/ Kaddish for a Child not Born" (1990)
Jane Smiley (USA, 1950): "A Thousand Acres" (1991)
George Cusnarencu (Romania, 1951): "Dodecaedru" (1991)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada, 1943): "The English Patient" (1992)
Daniela Hodrova (Czech, 1946): "Theta/ Masks" (1992)
Andrzej Zaniewski (Poland, 1940): "Szczur/ Rat" (1993)
Vikram Seth (India, 1952): "A Suitable Boy" (1993)
Yoko Tawada (Japan, 1960): "Inu Muko Iri/ The Bridegroom Was a Dog" (1993)
Cesar Aira (Argentina): "Como me Hice Monja/ How I Became a Nun" (1993)
Amin Maalouf (France, 1949): "Le Rocher de Tanios" (1993)
Peer Hultberg (Denmark, 1935): "Byen Og Verden/ The City and the World" (1993)
Antonio Tabucchi (Italy, 1943): "Sostiene Pereira" (1994)
Vasily Aksjonov or Aksenov (Russia, 1932): "Moskovskaja Saga/ Generations of Winter" (1994)
Liudmila Petrushevskaia (Russia, 1938): "The Time: Night" (1994)
Jachym Topol (Czech, 1962): "Sestra/ Sister" (1994)
Herta Mueller (Germany, 1953): "Herztier/ Hearteater/ The Land of Green Plums" (1994)
Almudena Grandes (Spain, 1960): "Malena es un Nombre de Tango" (1994)
Winfried Georg Sebald (Germany, 1944): "Die Ringe des Saturn" (1995)
Andrei Makine (France, 1957): "Le Testament Francais" (1995)
Jon Fosse (Norway, 1959): "Melancholia I" (1995)
Kazuo Ishiguro (Britain, 1954): "The Unconsoled" (1995)
Assia Djebar (France, 1936): "Vaste Est la Prison" (1995)
Jon Fosse (Norway, 1959): "Melancholia I" (1995)
Alessandro Baricco (Italy, 1958): "Seta " (1996)
David Foster Wallace (USA, 1962): "Infinite Jest" (1996)
Olga Tokarczuk (Poland, 1962): "Prawiek i Inne Czasy/ Primeval and Other Times" (1996)
Mircea Nedelciu (Romania, 1950): "Tratament Fabulatoriu/ "Confambulatory Treatment" (1996)
Don DeLillo (USA, 1936): "Underworld" (1997) ++
Pal Zavada (Hungary, 1954): "Jadviga Parnaja/ Jadviga's Pillow" (1997)
Elfriede Jelinek (Germany, 1946): "Die Kinder der Toten" (1997)
Ian McEwan (Britain, 1948): "Amsterdam" (1998)
Ingo Schulze (Germany, 1962): "Simple Storys" (1998)
Xiaobin Xu (China, 1953): "Feathered Serpent" (1998)
Lidia Jorge (Portugal, 1946): "O Vale da Paixao" (1998)
Per-Olov Enquist (Sweden, 1934): "Livlakarens Besok/ The Royal Physician's Visit" (1999)
Antonio Skarmenta (Chile, 1940): "La Boda del Poeta" (1999)
Rhea Galanaki (Greece, 1947): "Eleni io Kanenas/ Eleni or Nobody" (1999)
Continues: The best novels of the 21st century