I bet this sounds really silly, but I'm looking for recommendations for great contemporary English novels

(30 Posts)
ElectraOnAzaleaPath Sun 27-Apr-14 21:00:53

I read a lot and have come to the realisation that 90% of the books I read are by overseas writers. Specifically, I love America/Canadian fiction but have also enjoyed Irish, South African, South American and even Japanese novels. Favourite authors include Armistead Maupin, John Updike, Kathleen Winter, Margaret Attwood, Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee.

Apart from Wolf Hall, I haven't read a novel by an English author for over 2 years. Where do I start? I thought about just buying the Costa shortlist, but I fear that's a road to disappointment. Previously I have enjoyed David Lodge, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson as well as being a longstanding fan of Hilary Mantel but am happy to give anything a go.

Scarletohello Sun 27-Apr-14 21:02:00

Appletree Yard

Roseformeplease Sun 27-Apr-14 21:03:13

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and her new one, can't remember the name.

Just read Apple Tree Yard and was gripped.

Also enjoyed The Shock of the Fall and The Universe Versus Alex Woods.

SkaterGrrrrl Sun 27-Apr-14 21:06:26

David Mitchell!

DuchessofMalfi Sun 27-Apr-14 22:11:36

A S Byatt, or Margaret Drabble? Julian Barnes, Jim Crace, Susan Hill, Elizabeth Jane Howard (died earlier this year) .... for a start smile

joanofarchitrave Sun 27-Apr-14 22:14:11

William Boyd. Oh man. DH is reading Waiting for Sunrise atm and it's next on my pile after him. Have you read Ordinary Thunderstorms? It's quite coldhearted but what a great read.

Anything by Kate Atkinson.

joanofarchitrave Sun 27-Apr-14 22:16:34

And I should say Any Human Heart, which I really enjoyed.

notnowImreading Sun 27-Apr-14 22:17:59

I second A S Byatt. I love her. Patrick Gale is also good, but much lighter and can veer into Richard and Judy territory. I loved Notes on an Exhibition (which I think actually was a R&J book but was lovely anyway). Zoe Heller is VG.

magimedi Sun 27-Apr-14 22:29:55

Capital by John Lanchester.

Very English, very London, pretty up to date.. quite good, very readable & can't think of a novel that better describes what you are looking for.

Roseformeplease Sun 27-Apr-14 22:45:21

Loved Capital too. Mark Haddon (Curlous Incident, but his others are good too)

BabeRuthless Mon 28-Apr-14 07:44:05

I love Margaret Forster, her books are always amazing. Also Iain Banks, he passed away last year and his last book The Quarry has just come out in paperback.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 28-Apr-14 07:48:36

Not contemporary but if you like David lodge you might like Iris Murdoch.

I wouldn't go for Apple Tree Yard, given your list.

Iain Banks and Patrick Gale make sense.

Julian Barnes?

tumbletumble Mon 28-Apr-14 08:04:00

Ian McEwan. My favourites are Atonement and Sweet Tooth.

I'd second William Boyd, and suggest Allan Hollingsworth (or a name like that - I'm on my phone and my memory for names is shocking)

highlandcoo Mon 28-Apr-14 10:32:13

Yy to William Boyd, Alan Hollinghurst and Iain Banks, who is Scottish but presumably that's OK wink. For Iain Banks I particularly recommend Espedair Street and The Crow Road.

Also Rose Tremain, particularly Restoration and Music and Silence.

And Philip Hensher's The Northern Clemency is excellent. Arnold Bennett for the modern-day reader.

ElectraOnAzaleaPath Mon 28-Apr-14 14:46:20

Thanks for the ideas- some old favourites mentioned here, that I hope to return to (I remember reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum to avoid exam revision!) and some I've never heard of that I will try too.

We have lots of Iain Banks and William Boyd already on our bookshelf thanks to DH smile

Looking forward to a summer (mis)spent reading in the garden, while my toddlers happily entertain themselves (here's hoping....)

ShanghaiDiva Mon 28-Apr-14 15:04:43

Jonathan Coe
Maggie o'farell
Kate Atkinson
Philip hensher
David Mitchell - black swan green is excellent
The shock of the fall - Nathan filer

HopeClearwater Mon 28-Apr-14 22:54:45

I second the poster who said you might not like Apple Tree Yard.

Utter tripe!

PhoneSexWithMalcolmTucker Mon 28-Apr-14 23:01:08

Rupert Thomson - The Insult, Five Gates of Hell, The Book of Revelation, Death of a Murderer - all excellent and quite unlike anything else I've read.

(I gather from DH that his other books are excellent too, but I haven't read them yet)

joanofarchitrave Tue 29-Apr-14 11:04:22

I read a long article about the amazingness of Rupert Thomson, read Soft and have found it impossible to get it out of my head and not in a good way. I now realise it isn't supposed to be one of his best, but none of the reviews mention its horrific torture scene, which suggests he might have written others? I simply couldn't deal with it at all. Never again.

paperclip2 Tue 29-Apr-14 11:31:36

Margaret Atwood and J.M. Coetzee are among my favourite authors, so you might like these:

A.L. Kennedy: 'Day' and 'Everything You Need'
Nicola Barker: 'Darkmans' - a bit different but very very good
Stevie Davies: 'Impassioned Clay'

HopeClearwater Tue 29-Apr-14 12:46:55

Rupert Thomson's The Book of Revelation is really unpleasant and not actually very good. I went so far as to remove it from the house as quickly as possible. Would never read any of his books ever again.

ElectraOnAzaleaPath Tue 29-Apr-14 15:53:13

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm starting with the Nathan Filer. It sounds interesting. I'm just hoping it can make up for the void in my life created by just having finished The Secret History. Can any novel actually better it?

As for Rupert Thompson, I can't be doing with scenes of horrific torture, I get enough blood chilling yells during the children's bath time routine. I really enjoyed China Meiville's The City and The City, but DH has advised reading his other novels, which I understand to be pretty dark.

PhoneSexWithMalcolmTucker Tue 29-Apr-14 18:45:11

Funnily enough I don't remember any torture in Soft, and that kind of thing usually lingers in my mind for ages. It's certainly not one of his best books by any means. But his books are all very different, so I wouldn't write them all off on the basis of a strong reaction to one.

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