Ask the Editors: Prize-Winning Literary Fiction


You're really cutting it close with your Mother's Day shopping huh? Luckily, the Amazon Books team is here to help you find the perfect book to gift your mom this Sunday. Leave your reader profiles in the comments, or on our Facebook page for a personalized recommendation.

Today, we're helping Josie pick a book for her mom.

Josie says: My mother loves literary fiction--Jhumpa Lahiri, Jeffrey Euginides, Kazuo Ishiguro--mostly big prize winners. But she's always afraid of reading books that might be "too depressing" (The Road) or "too happy" (The Secret Life of Bees), and she can't stand novels with dislikable characters (although, for some reason, she did like Freedom). Can you recommend some bittersweet fiction for my mom?

  • As far as award winners go, it's hard to go wrong with The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Empire Falls, and The Hours, all of which have won the Pulitzer. But those are probably books your mom has likely read or heard about already.

  • Another safe bet is Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. It's a lot like Atonement, in that McEwan is playing with the idea of an unreliable narrator, but I guarantee that the ending isn't nearly as sad.

  • And I'm surprised that so far, through our whole Mother's Day edition of Ask the Editors, no one has recommended a book by David Mitchell. He penned Cloud Atlas, which some argue is the best book of the last decade, and last year's well-received The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which even President Obama found time to read last year. But the underrated (and much shorter) title by Mitchell that I'd recommend is Black Swan Green, about the cruelty of young boys growing up in a rural English village.

  • Miriam said: If Josie’s mom likes Jhumpa Lahiri, she’ll like Monica Ali’s Brick Lane--on the short-list for the 2003 Man Booker Prize--about a Bangladeshi girl who moves to London for an arranged marriage. The story of a woman coming into her own is subtle and satisfying and Ali’s characters are richly drawn.

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Comments (2)

I think the reason no one recommended Cloud Atlas is because it was a tough read. Not one that in my opinion that is a likable read. It felt like something you were supposed to read. And yes one might say that someone like David Foster Wallace would be in the same category but his books always had a sly sense of humor that kept you going throughout the hundreds pages. I think I will check out Brick Lande. I have read all of the other titles you mention.

Posted by: Stacey | Thursday May 5, 2011 at 5:34 AM

someone already DID recommend black swan green in the post about magical realism, i think... it was compared to murakami.

Posted by: jec81 | Thursday May 5, 2011 at 11:52 AM

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