I’ve 99 novels and Anthony burgess isn’t one of them


Well I’ve  spun on Jay Z’s lyrics  in the title of this piece I’ve long wanted to get hold of the book by Anthony Burgess the best 99 novels in English since 1939 . As a fan of Burgess own work , but also aware that he was quite the cultural commentator back in the day.I felt his choice of 99 novels maybe an interesting list to look at and to work through.I often say I want to try to add a few English novels and as I am of the opinion that nothing of any weight has been written since Burgess passed this looks like the list for me .The bold ones are books I own. I have read a number as well.

  • Party Going, Henry Green
  • After Many a Summer, Aldous Huxley
  • Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
  • At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien


  • The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
  • Strangers and Brothers (to 1970), C. P. Snow(most of these I have )


  • The Aerodrome, Rex Warner


  • The Horse’s Mouth, Joyce Cary
  • The Razor’s Edge, Somerset Maugham


  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  • 1946

  • Titus Groan, Mervyn Peake


  • The Victim, Saul Bellow
  • Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry


  • The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
  • Ape and Essence, Aldous Huxley
  • The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
  • No Highway, Nevil Shute
  • 1949

  • The Heat of the Day, Elizabeth Bowen
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  • The Body, William Sansom


  • Scenes from Provincial Life, William Cooper
  • The Disenchanted, Budd Schulberg


  • A Dance to the Music of Time (to 1975), Anthony Powell 3 of 4 collect vols 
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  • The Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (to 1969), Henry Williamson
  • The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk


  • Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  • The Groves of Academe, Mary McCarthy
  • Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor
  • Sword of Honour (to 1961), Evelyn Waugh


  • The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler


  • Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis


  • Room at the Top, John Braine
  • The Alexandria Quartet (to 1960), Lawrence Durrell
  • The London Novels (to 1960), Colin MacInnes
  • The Assistant, Bernard Malamud


  • The Bell, Iris Murdoch
  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe
  • The Once and Future King, T. H. White


  • The Mansion, William Faulkner
  • Goldfinger, Ian Fleming


  • Facial Justice, L. P. Hartley
  • The Balkans Trilogy (to 1965), Olivia Manning


  • The Mighty and Their Fall, Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  • The Fox in the Attic, Richard Hughes
  • Riders in the Chariot, Patrick White
  • The Old Men at the Zoo, Angus Wilson


  • Another Country, James Baldwin
  • An Error of Judgment, Pamela Hansford Johnson
  • Island, Aldous Huxley
  • The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
  • Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov


  • The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark


  • The Spire, William Golding
  • Heartland, Wilson Harris
  • A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood
  • The Defence, Vladimir Nabokov
  • Late Call, Angus Wilson


  • The Lockwood Concern, John O’Hara
  • The Mandelbaum Gate, Muriel Spark


  • A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe
  • The Anti-Death League, Kingsley Amis
  • Giles Goat-Boy, John Barth
  • The Late Bourgeois World, Nadine Gordimer
  • The Last Gentleman, Walker Percy


  • The Vendor of Sweets, R. K. Narayan


  • The Image Men, J. B. Priestley
  • Cocksure, Mordecai Richler
  • Pavane, Keith Roberts


  • The French Lieutenant’s Woman, John Fowles
  • Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth


  • Bomber, Len Deighton


  • Sweet Dreams, Michael Frayn
  • Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon


  • Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow
  • The History Man, Malcolm Bradbury


  • The Doctor’s Wife, Brian Moore
  • Falstaff, Robert Nye


  • How to Save Your Own Life, Erica Jong
  • Farewell Companions, James Plunkett
  • Staying On, Paul Scott


  • The Coup, John Updike


  • The Unlimited Dream Company, J. G. Ballard
  • Dubin’s Lives, Bernard Malamud
  • A Bend in the River, V. S. Naipaul
  • Sophie’s Choice, William Stryon


  • Life in the West, Brian Aldiss
  • Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
  • How Far Can You Go?, David Lodge
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole


  • Lanark, Alasdair Gray
  • Darconville’s Cat, Alexander Theroux
  • The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux
  • Creation, Gore Vidal


  • The Rebel Angels, Robertson Davies


  • Ancient Evenings, Norman Mailer

So that is the list it is more than 99 novels aa a number of the books is a series of Novels like the Powell , Williamson and Snow all of which are ten or more novel series. So I plan to work through this over next few years as a challenge. Anyone else like this list ?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beckylindroos
    Aug 10, 2016 @ 19:46:23

    Rather ecclectic list, imo, with some surpring inclusions.I’ve read about 1/3 of them. I like the chronological format. I’m thinking of making my own list one of these days, but … so much to actually read! lol


  2. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Aug 10, 2016 @ 19:58:21

    That’s an interesting list and I guess reflects the time he chose them. There are quite a lot I have and have read, and quite a few I’d like to revisit. If I had infinite time I’d quite like to read my way through the list chronologically!


  3. BookerTalk
    Aug 10, 2016 @ 20:10:07

    I have had this book for about 10 years and its travelled with me through three house moves but I’ve yet to tackle the list in its entirety. It may be a project for next year


  4. Anokatony
    Aug 10, 2016 @ 20:25:54

    I have this Anthony Burgess guide, but there is one guide that became my Bible as to modern literature over forty years ago. That book is “Who’s Who in Twentieth Century Literature” by Martin Seymour Smith. He wrote small opinion pieces on all of the writers that were prominent in the 20th century up to about 1975. I totally trusted his opinions and used his advice for selecting the novels I read. I still refer to this guide regularly.


  5. Jonathan
    Aug 10, 2016 @ 20:31:21

    I read the Burgess book a year or so ago. It was ok but it was way too short with only a page devoted to each book.


  6. Lisa Hill
    Aug 11, 2016 @ 05:29:16

    This list has been added to Goodreads Listopia and so I can see that I’ve read 25 of them plus A Dance to the Music of Time which is 4 books (or 12, depending on how you count them).
    But although it has some interesting authors and titles, overall I don’t find it a very exciting list. The best in English seems to mean mostly male, and mostly from the US and UK with some tokens from the Commonwealth. All those fantastic feminist writers of the 70s and 80s don’t rate a mention…


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August 2016


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