The ‘classic’ novel encompasses universal themes, a wide range of diverse characters, realised settings, and will make connections that withstand the test of time. Alicia Lacey shares her list of books that will become modern classics in the near future.
Themes including discussions of morality, love and relationships, race, politics and history which communicate a lasting and impactful message to the reader that can be dissected for years to come. Examples of classics from the past are The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. All of these novels convey worldly significance that have been studied, read and loved for generations. The following novels are some I think will become classics in the future because of their effectiveness in both the literary sphere and public enjoyment.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Published in 2015, A Little Life has become a staple in modern discussions of ‘must-read’ novels of this century. American writer Hanya Yanagihara, who grew up in Hawaii, is now a household name from the success of this novel as it was shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize and remains popular across BookTok and Instagram. The story follows a group of friends in New York who battle hardships throughout their lives. The protagonist Jude St. Francis is the focal point of the book as the reader uncovers his traumatic past and how this has impacted everything that came after. I believe this will become a modern classic because it tells a crucial story about persistence, overcoming trauma, the importance of friendship and confronting the harsh realities of life. Although this story is a must-read for many, it must be acknowledged that this book comes with a lot of trigger warnings and will not be an easy read for many. Please be aware to check these trigger warnings before reading but it is overall a very powerful piece of fiction.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This novel, published in 2018, follows the complicated relationship between the main characters Marianne and Connell whilst being a quiet character study of these characters individually. Set in the post-2008 Irish economic downfall, Normal People portrays the complexities of communication, growing up and identity which I believe to be important themes that are relatable to many readers. This book won the 2019 British Book Award for Book of the Year and was made into the highly popular TV series on BBC which contributes to its ‘classic’ status. The Irish setting of County Sligo and Dublin places this novel in a realistic environment as many readers can relate to moving from a small town to a large city for University and how different people can react to this transition. I think this book captures the essence of the coming of age trope whilst being unique in its own right.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
For the thriller genre, I think that Gone Girl which was published in 2012 will be a future modern classic. With the unreliable protagonist (or antagonist) Amy Dunne being a popular character study for female rage and revenge, this novel has held the attention of readers for over a decade. The movie adaptation, directed by David Fincher, was also well received as it captured the novel’s depictions of dysfunctional relationships, role playing and how identity is expressed.
THE DARK NATURE OF THIS BOOK MAKES FOR A BRILLIANT THRILLER WHERE THE READER MUST QUESTION WHO TO BELIEVE AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD PEOPLE. FLYNN TAKES THE MYSTERY GENRE AND PERSPECTIVE NARRATIVE AND ASKS BIG QUESTIONS SURROUNDING MORALITY, MARRIAGE, PARENTING AND MANIPULATION.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
The winner for Best Fiction in 2022, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow tells the tale of two friends who meet in childhood and how this friendship impacts the rest of their lives. The two main characters Sam Masur and Sadie Green work together to make a game that brings about major success. The way in which these characters navigate success, love and relationships develops throughout the novel and discusses how artists can become immortal through their work – similar to how literature and novels are immortalized through their readers. Zevin’s writing is beautifully captivating and although I am not a fan of video and computer games, this book opened my eyes to the creation of art itself. The setting, themes and characters in this book make me believe that this will become a modern classic to be enjoyed for years to come.
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