20th Century Fiction. And as good as Fiction.
(this list is incomplete)

Give or take a few thousand, depending on definitions, there are about 5,000 literatures, oral or printed, excluding those in dialect, in the world at present. Some are so old and so vast, like the Chinese, that there is as yet no adequate history of them. This is a selected list of 20th century fiction in English, a latecomer to literature, garnished with a few none-fiction works as good as the fiction, and even a few translations into English from other languages.

At their best, translations and non-fiction tell us about what our fiction ignores.

This is just my personal taste, a mere fact of existence. The books in the list are not necessarily an author’s best. Some of them are just a good means of ingress to the writer’s works, good in themselves and sometimes atypical. Sometimes they are the writer’s only good thing.

Some are flawed, but what’s good in them outweighs that.

I have got a lot of pleasure, and occasionally instruction, from many books not in this list. Readers will adjust the list to suit themselves.

Some of these are best relished when younger, others when older. Some are harder to read than the others.

In the widest sense, everything is fiction, constructed out of selected selections from life.

Fiction is eternal, and does not depend upon existence, which is always finite.

T = translation
S = short piece
N = non-fiction

Lascelles Abercrombie: The Theory of Poetry; The Idea of Great Poetry (N)

Martin Adan: The Cardboard House (R)

James Agee: Film reviews (N)

Max Beerbohm. Euphemia Clashthought (S); theatre reviews (N)

Arnold Bennett

Edward Frederic Benson: Mrs. Ames

Elizabeth Bowen

Jane Bowles: Two Serious Ladies

Jocelyn Brooke: The Military Orchid

Anita Brookner

Anatole Broyard: Kafka Was All the Rage (part one)

Hortense Calisher

Anthony Carson: A Rose By Any Other Name

Willa Cather: Lucy Gayheart

Raymond Chandler: The Lady in the Lake

Hugo Charteris: Tide is Right

Alfred Chester

G.K. Chesterton

Robert M. Coates: Yesterday’s Burdens

Ivy Compton-Burnett

Barbara Comyns: The Vet’s Daughter

e.e. cummings: Eimi

Edward Dahlberg: The Olive of Minerva or The Comedy of a Cuckold

Eric Darton: A Year’s Utopia

Frank Dalby Davison: Man-Shy

Walter de la Mare: Collected Stories; Henry Brocken

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen): Winter’s Tales

Norman Douglas: Old Calabria (N)

Theodore Drieser

Hugh Edwards: All Night at Mr. Stanyhurst’s

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

Mary Gaitskell: Bad Behaviour

Bamber Gascoyne

William Gerhardi: My Wife’s the Least of It

Lewis Grassic Gibbon: Sunset Song

Grahame Greene: The Ministry of Fear

Henry Green: Doting

F.L. Green

John Hawkes: Travesty

Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

A.P. Herbert: More Misleading Cases


Spencer Holst: The Zebra Storyteller

W.H. Hudson

Richard Hughes: A High Wind in Jamaica

Maude Hutchins: Memoirs of Maisie

Aldous Huxley

Henry James: The Wings of the Dove

Richard Jeffries

James Joyce: Ulysses; Finnegans Wake

Franz Kafka: The Castle

Rudyard Kipling

D.H. Lawrence: The White Peacock

C.S. Lewis: An Experiment in Criticism (N)

Wyndham Lewis

David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus

Mina Loy: Insel

Arthur Machen: The Three Imposters

Jean Malaquais: The Joker

Beryl Markham: West with the Night

Garcia Gabriel Marquez

John Masefield: The Midnight Folk

H.L. Massingham: In Praise of England

Joseph Mitchell: McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (N, S)

C.E. Montague.: Disenchantment (N)

Charles Morgan: The Judge’s Story

V.S. Naipaul: Miguel Street

P.H. Newby: Something to Answer For

Tillie Olsen: Tell Me a Riddle

Oliver Onions: A Shilling to Spend

Cynthia Ozick

Grace Paley

Dawn Powell: The Locusts Have No King

John Cowper Powys: The Glastonbury Romance

Llewellyn Powys: The Verdict of Bridlegoose

T.F. Powys: Black Bryony

Barbara Pym: The Sweet Dove Died

Wilhelm Reich: The Function of the Orgasm (T, N)

Herbert Read: The Green Child (the first part only)

Forrest Reid: Young Tom

Fr. Rolfe

Edgar Saltus: The Imperial Orgy (0)

Bernard Shaw: Theatre reviews (N)

Edith Sitwell: Fanfare for Elizabeth (0)

Solzhenytsin: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons

J.R. Tolkien: Leaf by Niggle

Rosemary Tonks: Opium Fogs

Mark Twain: Eve’s Diary (S)

Immanuel Velikovsky: Ages in Chaos

Robert Walser: Kleist in Thun. (T, S)

H.G. Wells

Angus Wilson: The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot

Antonio White: Frost in May

Thornton Wilder: Heaven’s My Destination

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse

Paramahansa Yogananda: Autobiography of a Yogi (N)

Marguerite Yourcenar