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My Fab Five Books...so far

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I included books that convey humour, darkness, deep truths, conflict and control, and of course beautiful prose. One author is Irish, one is Italian, one is Russian, one is Ukrainian, and one is Hungarian, so it is also a multicultural list!

The Master and Margarita

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY WILL SELF. The devil makes a personal appearance in Moscow accompanied by various demons, including a naked girl and a huge black cat. When he leaves, the asylums are full and the forces of law and order in disarray. Only the Master, a man devoted to truth, and Margarita, the woman he loves, can resist the devil's onslaught.

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The Periodic Table

Primo Levi's The Periodic Table is a collection of short stories that elegantly interlace the author's experiences in Fascist Italy, and later in Auschwitz, with his passion for scientific knowledge and discovery. This Penguin Modern Classics edition of is translated by Raymond Rosenthal with an essay on Primo Levi by Philip Roth.A chemist by training, Primo Levi became one of the supreme witnesses to twentieth-century atrocity. In these haunting reflections inspired by the elements of the periodic table, he ranges from young love to political savagery; from the inert gas argon - and 'inert' relatives like the uncle who stayed in bed for twenty-two years - to life-giving carbon. 'Iron' honours the mountain-climbing resistance hero who put iron in Levi's student soul, 'Cerium' recalls the improvised cigarette lighters which saved his life in Auschwitz, while 'Vanadium' describes an eerie post-war correspondence with the man who had been his 'boss' there. In his essay, Philip Roth reproduces a conversation with Primo Levi, delving into the process of Levi's authorial technique, his sense of identity and distinctiveness and the relationship between science, writing and survival.Primo Levi (1919-87), an Italian Jew, did not come to the wide attention of the English-reading audience until the last years of his life. A survivor of the Holocaust and imprisonment in Auschwitz, Levi is considered to be one of the century's most compelling voices, and The Periodic Table is his most famous book. Levi is the author of Moments of Reprieve and If Not Now, When?, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.Philip Roth is the author of Nemesis and The Plot Against America, and winner of the both the Pulitzer prize, and the Man Booker International prize. If you enjoyed The Periodic Table, you might like Levi's If Not Now, When?, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.'A book it is necessary to read'Saul Bellow, author of Herzog'One of the finest writers in post-war Italy'The Times

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Lolita

One of the most controversial novels of the twentieth century, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is a strange, troubling love story told by the one of the most unreliable narrators in literature. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an afterword by Craig Raine.Poet and pervert, Humbert Humbert becomes obsessed by twelve-year-old Lolita and seeks to possess her, first carnally and then artistically, out of love, 'to fix once for all the perilous magic of nymphets'. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these? Humbert Humbert's seduction is one of many dimensions in Nabokov's dizzying masterpiece, which is suffused with a savage humour and rich, elaborate verbal textures. Filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1962 starring James Mason and Peter Sellers, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne starring Jeremy Irons and Melanie Griffith, Lolita has lost none of its power to shock and awe.'Lolita is comedy, subversive yet divine ... You read Lolita sprawling limply in your chair, ravished, overcome, nodding scandalized assent'Martin Amis, Observer

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The Door

A young writer, struggling for success, employs an elderly woman called Emerence to be her housekeeper. From their first encounter it is clear that Emerence is no ordinary maid. Although everyone in the neighbourhood knows and respects her, no one knows anything about her private life or has ever crossed her threshold. Only a great drama in the writer's life prompts Emerence to unveil glimpses of her traumatic past - a past which sheds light on her peculiar behaviour. The Door brilliantly evokes the development of the bond between these two very different women, and the tragic ending to their relationship.

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Dracula

'it was butcher work...the horrid screeching as the stake drove home; the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam' Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic shocker introduced Count Dracula to the world, an ancient creature bent on bringing his contagion to London, the very heart of the British Empire. Only a handful of men and women stand between Dracula and his long-cherished goal, but they are vulnerable and weak against the cunning and supernatural powers of the Count and his legions. As the horrifying story unfolds in the diaries and letters of young Jonathan Harker, Lucy, Mina, and Dr Seward, Dracula will be victorious unless his nemesis Professor Van Helsing can persuade them that monsters still lurk in the era of electric light. The most famous of all vampire stories, Dracula is a mirror of its age, its underlying themes of race, religion, science, superstition, and sexuality never far from the surface. A compelling read, rattling along at break-neck speed, it is a modern classic. This new edition includes Stoker's companion piece, 'Dracula's Guest'. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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