12 Contemporary British Novels We Can't Live Without

As a lifelong Anglophile, I have worshipped at the altar of Austen, Brontë, and Dickens ever since I received my first copy of Pride and Prejudice in the fourth grade. But British literature goes far beyond the country manors and moody moors of the nineteenth century. Here are twelve fantastic novels from some of the most exciting contemporary novelists across the pond that every self-respecting Anglophile should read.
 

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White Teeth by Zadie Smith
White Teeth plays out its bounding, vibrant course in a Jamaican hair salon in North London, an Indian restaurant in Leicester Square, an Irish poolroom turned immigrant café, a liberal public school, and a sleek science institute, while it takes on faith, race, gender, history, and culture. Zadie Smith's dazzling first novel is not to be missed.

Read the review here

 

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The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters earned a reputation as one of Britain's great writers of historical fiction, and here she delivers again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of 1920s London, this is her finest achievement yet.
 

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder is a bewitching and harrowing story of mystery and survival, memory and magic.

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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
A visionary voice in twenty-first century fiction, David Mitchell combines a keen eye for character and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation to explore fundamental questions of reality and identity.
 

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
If there were an infinite number of chances to live your life, would you be able to save the world from its own destiny? Wildly inventive, darkly comic, and startlingly poignant, this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
 

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
One of Britain's most accomplished, acclaimed, and garlanded writers, Hilary Mantel brutally and acutely recreates Tudor England in this Man Booker Prize-winning novel. She deploys her gifts for penetrating, unsparing characterization to breathe thrilling new life into the well-trodden territory of Henry VIII and his court.
 

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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in this gripping, suspenseful, and darkly twisted literary debut.
 

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The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell
The discovery of human remains in a long-forgotten tin box sends shockwaves across a group of longtime friends in this psychologically explosive story from the late Ruth Rendell, the grand dame of British crime writing.
 

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Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Ever since she debuted stateside, Americans have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes and her opposites-attract love stories. This is the word-of-mouth sensation that put her on the map. You'll laugh, you'll weep, and when you turn the last page, you'll want to start all over again.

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Atonement by Ian McEwan
A symphonic and heartbreaking novel of love and war, childhood and class, and guilt and forgiveness that provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, this Man Booker Prize-winning novel of stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes's oeuvre.
 

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Little Bee by Chris Cleave
This novel of a young Nigerian refugee seeking asylum in Great Britain is a story of uncertainty, courage, and profound humanity rendered in brutal yet gorgeous prose.

Read the review here

 

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