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Hermione Hoby's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Hermione Hoby recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Hermione Hoby's favorite book recommendations of all time.



In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life. less
Recommended by Hermione Hoby, and 1 others.

Hermione HobyThe novel, formally, feels like a piece of jazz. (Source)

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The Flamethrowers

* Shortlisted for the Folio Prize 2014*

*Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction*

Reno mounts her motorcycle and sets a collision course for New York.

In 1977 the city is alive with art, sensuality and danger. She falls in with a bohemian clique colonising downtown and the lines between reality and performance begin to bleed.

A passionate affair with the scion of an Italian tyre empire carries Reno to Milan, where she is swept along by the radical left and drawn into a spiral of violence and betrayal.
Recommended by Hermione Hoby, and 1 others.

Hermione HobyThere’s a sense in the novel of the way that we make ourselves through other people, as well as through the city. (Source)

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A finalist for the National Book Award, Don DeLillo’s most powerful and riveting novel—“a great American novel, a masterpiece, a thrilling page-turner” (San Francisco Chronicle)—Underworld is about the second half of the twentieth century in America and about two people, an artist and an executive, whose lives intertwine in New York in the fifties and again in the nineties.

With cameo appearances by Lenny Bruce, J. Edgar Hoover, Bobby Thompson, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and Toots Shor, “this is DeLillo’s most affecting novel…a dazzling, phosphorescent work of art”...
Recommended by Chad Harbach, Hermione Hoby, and 2 others.

Chad HarbachThis is DeLillo’s big, thick novel which ranges over several decades of American history. It’s a book about waste, about trash, about what society sweeps under the rug. But it begins with a long overture set in perhaps the most famous professional baseball game of all time – “The Shot Heard Round The World,” the famous home run hit by Bobby Thomson in 1951. It’s an incredibly virtuosic piece of... (Source)

Hermione HobyIt’s such an extraordinarily vast and all-reaching book. (Source)

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Sleepless Nights

In Sleepless Nights a woman looks back on her life—the parade of people, the shifting background of place—and assembles a scrapbook of memories, reflections, portraits, letters, wishes, and dreams. An inspired fusion of fact and invention, this beautifully realized, hard-bitten, lyrical book is not only Elizabeth Hardwick's finest fiction but one of the outstanding contributions to American literature of the last fifty years. less
Recommended by Margo Jefferson, Hermione Hoby, and 2 others.

Margo JeffersonIn terms of literary form and history, one of the interesting things is that Hardwick called it a novel, it was published as a novel, and it is now being written about as a hybrid form – as an early and potent example of what we are now calling experimental, hybrid non-fiction (Source)

Hermione HobyShe’s occupying the space of her own memory, for which New York is a vessel, or a conduit. (Source)

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Dancer from the Dance

One of the most important works of gay literature, this haunting, brilliant novel is a seriocomic remembrance of things past -- and still poignantly present. It depicts the adventures of Malone, a beautiful young man searching for love amid New York's emerging gay scene. From Manhattan's Everard Baths and after-hours discos to Fire Island's deserted parks and lavish orgies, Malone looks high and low for meaningful companionship. The person he finds is Sutherland, a campy quintessential queen -- and one of the most memorable literary creations of contemporary fiction. Hilarious, witty, and... more

Jonathan RauchIt captures a moment in history when you’ve got the emergence of an entire culture of people for whom free love is legal, but marriage is unthinkable. (Source)

Edmund Whiteit has a sumptuous, beautiful, poetic style, which I think is a characteristic of gay writing in general. (Source)

Hermione HobyIt has this exquisite elegiac air, which obviously compounds the poignancy of the tragedy of Aids. (Source)

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