This post originally appeared on the Ploughshares blog in August 2019. The Old West is a place of myth as well as of history. Popularized through the Western genre, the mythological West is commonly associated with the activities of cowboys, gunslingers,
1) Nightwood by Djuna Barnes Published in 1936, Nightwood is a haze of alcohol, glamour, sex, and love in all its desperate, unconventional, and painful forms. It tells the story of the mesmerising Robin Vote, who leaves a trail of cigarette ends and
A parentless gypsy of fifteen or sixteen, Esmeralda captures the interest of four very different admirers. There is the philosopher Pierre Gringoire, the playboy Captain Phoebus, the repressed archdeacon Claude Frollo, and the eponymous hunchback, Quasimodo. These admirers, though individually very different, fall
Charlotte Salomon was a German-born Jewish artist of significant achievement and greater promise but aged just 26, and pregnant with her first child, she died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. The crowning achievement of Charlotte’s tragically short life, Leben?
Umberto Eco’s final novel is a fast-paced historical thriller centred on a newspaper that will never be published, and a conspiracy theory surrounding the death of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. At just under 200 pages, Numero Zero is the shortest
Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile is a study in unreliable narration. It tells the story of the writer/priest/critic Sebastian Urrutia Lacroix as he reflects, from his death-bed, on certain events in his life, particularly those in connection to the Pinochet regime.
Yukio Mishima was a twentieth century Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model and film director. He was also an ardent nationalist, with extreme right wing views. His death in 1970, aged just 45, came as a result of a failed
Pond is a collection of short stories, or perhaps a fragmented novel, centred on an unnamed female narrator living alone in a cottage in Ireland. It is often written in an expansive, mock-heroic style, using elevated language to describe the
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a novel of social comedy and observation bound up in serious issues of identity, race, and culture, in a globalised world. Obinze and Ifemelu meet at high school in Nigeria and fall in love. When the
Italo Calvino was an Italian writer associated with both neorealism and postmodernism. He published a number of works during the latter half of the twentieth century and won a number of awards including the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement.