The Tin Drum by Gunther Grass

March 28, 2014

Plot summary (from the publisher): The Tin Drum, one of the great novels of the twentieth century, was published in Ralph Manheim’s outstanding translation in 1959. It became a runaway bestseller and catapulted its young author to the forefront of world literature. This fiftieth anniversary edition, translated by Breon Mitchell, is more faithful to Grass’s […]


The Quiet American by Graham Greene

December 6, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): Thomas Fowler is a British journalist covering the French Indochina War from Saigon. At the beginning of the novel, he enjoys a rather contented existence. He’s not at the front lines, and his home life is sweetened by his young Vietnamese lover, Phuong. Soon thereafter, however, Fowler meets a 30-something American […]


The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

December 18, 2009

Plot summary: The Executioner’s Song is sometimes described as a “quasi-documentary” about the life and execution of Gary Gilmore, a “spree killer” who gained notoriety as the first person put to death after capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Norman Mailer cobbled the book together out of extensive interviews with Gilmore’s family and friends, as […]


Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

September 15, 2009

Plot summary (with spoilers): Hazel Motes has just left the Army after World War II and is on his way to Taulkinham, TN. He’s simply wandering around, as he couldn’t find his family when he returned to his hometown. Hazel doesn’t have firm plans for the immediate future. This is evidenced by his impulsive decision […]


Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

September 1, 2009

Plot summary (with spoilers): Mrs. Palfrey is an elderly widow who has no place in the lives of her daughter Elizabeth or grandson Desmond. As a result, she decides to take up residence in the Claremont Hotel, an affordable place in the South Kensington district of London. The hotel is nothing special, and might even […]


If on a winter’s night a traveler

August 26, 2009

Plot summary (with spoilers): This is an ambitious novel that seeks to experiment with a lot of different literary devices. On one hand, If on a winter’s night a traveler is an ode to reading, as one of the main characters, indeed, is called Reader. Author Italo Calvino describes the pure pleasure one receives from […]


Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

June 5, 2009

This is another book that made the Observer’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. However, while Lucky Jim was indeed somewhat enjoyable at times, I’m fairly certain I could find a suitable replacement for this book on the Best 100 list! Plot summary (with possible spoilers): The novel is told from the […]


Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

May 26, 2009

Plot summary (with spoilers): The “Oscar” of the title is Oscar Hopkins, whom we meet as a young boy growing up in rural England. His father, Theophilus, belongs to a strict religious sect of brethren that don’t even believe in celebrating Christmas. Oscar’s mother died earlier, so it’s just the two of them. Theophilus loves […]


An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

April 28, 2009

Kazuo Ishiguro is perhaps best known for his 1989 Booker Prize-winning novel The Remains of the Day, it is his earlier work, An Artist of the Floating World, that made it onto the Observer’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. Since I’m trying to work my way through those hundred books, I […]


The BFG by Roald Dahl

April 21, 2009

Plot summary (with possible spoilers): One night, I young orphan girl named Sophie can’t fall asleep. So she goes to look out the window, where she beholds an amazing sight: a huge 24-foot tall giant leaning into the window of a neighbor’s house, blowing something at the two children sleeping there. Sophie is scared half […]