“Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon – Meaning in a Cruel World

“Gravity's Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon (Header image)

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Thomas Pynchon might not be a very prolific author, but his books have often had a powerful impact when they were published, with the most prominent of the lot arguably being his 1973 classic bestseller, Gravity’s Rainbow. It’s an unusual kaleidoscope of a novel, taking place against the backdrop of the Second World War, exploring through a large number of characters the madness and all-consuming paranoia it gave birth to.

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“Who They Was” by Gabriel Krauze – An Unforeseen Duality

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Gabriel Krauze is one of the few people who truly managed to escape life among the gangs of London, and in his first published novel, titled Who They Was, he takes us to the heart of a culture long-hidden in the shadows. It tells the story of Gabriel, a university student learning about English literature by day, and a member of London’s gang-ridden underworld by night, known to most as Snoopz.

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“Infinite Country” by Patricia Engel – Visions of a Better Life

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Patricia Engel has become a celebrated and respected voice in immigrant literature, consistently relating her moving and educative experiences through her novels. Most recently, she published Infinite Country, chronicling the long, winding and turbulent fates of five members making up a family of Colombian immigrants.

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“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett – Opposite Ends of Life

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Brit Bennett is a relatively new author on the scene, but both her novels have already turned into bestsellers, and perhaps more importantly, her second novel titled The Vanishing Half, has opened many peoples’ eyes to her insightful worldview. Taking place across many years and all over the United States, the story follows the fates of two sisters who escape their hometown but end up living in polar opposite worlds years down the line.

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“The Winter Soldier” by Daniel Mason – The Healer’s Sacrifice

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Daniel Mason enjoys taking his readers on grand trips through time and around the world, doing so once again in his novel The Winter Soldier. Taking us to Vienna in 1914, the story follows a young medical student, Lucius, who dreams of becoming a battlefield surgeon. Instead, he finds himself sent to a remote mountain outpost ravaged by typhus, with only a single nurse remaining. Facing an hour darker and more desperate than he could have ever expected, Lucius is forced to make decisions bound to change the lives of all those touched by his presence.

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“Jerusalem” by Alan Moore – Holy City of English Decadence

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Alan Moore may have established his reputation largely through timeless comic books such as Watchmen, but he has also proven himself to be a novelist with no equal, namely through his 2016 work titled Jerusalem. In it, we are taken on an exploration of the madness, brilliancy, decay and degeneracy which has seeped over the years into the town of Northampton in the United Kingdom, taking a close look at the lives of its denizens, forgotten to the rest of the world.

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“Normal People” by Sally Rooney – To Save a Soul

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Sally Rooney has taken little time in becoming a distinguished figure in the realm of books with her debut novel Conversations with Friends in 2017, and only a year later she came back with another brilliant story titled Normal People. To put it simply, it follows two young students as they walk parallel paths over the years and learn the hard way about the complexities of friendship, love, family, and life as a whole in general.

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“The Piano Tuner” by Daniel Mason – Jungle for a Confused Soul

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Daniel Mason surprised many when back in 2003 he published his first ever novel while still being a medical student, The Piano Tuner. Transporting us back to 1886 when the British Empire still existed, the book tells the story of Edgar Drake, the titular tuner, as he receives a strange commission from the War Office: to service an eccentric army surgeon’s piano in Burma. So begin Edgar Drake’s travels to a turbulent and secretive country on the verge of making history.

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“The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin – The Fates of Dreamers

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Chloe Benjamin has erupted onto the literary scene with her first novel, The Anatomy of Dreams, and has decided to delve further into the realms of unique and thought-provoking literature in her second book, The Immortalists. In it, we are introduced to four children who are all given a prophecy by a travelling mystic who could allegedly reveal to people the day they would die. As the years go on we witness them growing up and living out the strange and curious fates they were all assigned.

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“The Trial” by Franz Kafka – The State Knows Best

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Short Summary

Franz Kafka was one of the more complex and thought-provoking authors of the twentieth century, and though he may have died young, his classics like The Trial will live on forever, telling the timeless story of an ordinary man, Joseph K., who one day wakes up only to find himself accused of a crime he has no recollection of committing.

What’s worse, not a person in the world seems to be able to tell him what crime he’s actually being accused of. Standing before the grinding gears of the bureaucratic machine Joseph K. must resolve the impossible matter or be grinded down into nothingness, like so many before him.

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