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John King's Top Book Recommendations

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


2666 (2666 #1-5)

Three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; a police detective in love with an elusive older woman—these are among the searchers drawn to the border city of Santa Teresa, where over the course of a decade hundreds of women have disappeared. less
Recommended by John King, and 1 others.

John KingI have read this once and I keep dipping back into it because it is endlessly fascinating. Roberto Bolaño is a writer who has found a really important way of dealing with the horrors that the 1970s and subsequent decades have inflicted on Latin America. If you look at Borges, García Márquez and Vargas Llosa, in a sense they grew up in times of optimism, of high modernism, with the hope, at least... (Source)

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The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector's consummate final novel, may well be her masterpiece. Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Cola, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marylin Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly, and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, and yet he cannot avoid realization that for all her outward misery, Macabéa is inwardly... more
Recommended by John King, and 1 others.

John KingWith this choice I am giving just one out of a myriad of possible examples of women writing in Latin America, in a field that still tends to be dominated by big-name male writers. At the time that these male writers were reaching international prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, Clarice Lispector was writing with much less fanfare very interesting short stories, usually about a crisis in the... (Source)

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Conversation in the Cathedral

A Haunting tale of power, corruption, and the complex search for identity, Conversation in The Cathedral takes place in 1950s Peru during the dictatorship of Manuel Apolinario Odría Amoretti. Over beers and a sea of freely spoken words, the conversation flows between two individuals, Santiago and Ambrosia, who talk of their tormented lives and of the overall degradation and frustration that has slowly taken over their town. Through a complicated web of secrets and historical references, Mario Vargas Llosa analyzes the mental and moral mechanisms that govern power and the people behind... more
Recommended by John King, and 1 others.

John KingIt was a difficult choice because he has written some 14 major novels. He is a writer who changes with every novel, adopting a range of different styles. But when I was reading around the Nobel prize, I learned that all the Nobel committee members read this novel when they were deliberating about the prize. And even though I have about four favourite novels of his, that seemed a good reason for... (Source)

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Selected Stories and Other Writings

Although his work has been restricted to the short story, the essay, and poetry, Jorge Luis Borges of Argentina is recognized all over the world as one of the most original and significant figures in modern literature. In his preface, Andre Maurois writes: "Borges is a great writer who has composed only little essays or short narratives. Yet they suffice for us to call him great because of their wonderful intelligence, their wealth of invention, and their tight, almost mathematical style."

Labyrinths is a representative selection of Borges' writing, some forty pieces drawn...

John KingIf you are going to think about Latin American literature, Borges is always a good place to start. (Source)

Nicholas ShakespeareNo writer embodied libraries more than the immobile, blind Argentine, Jorge Luis Borges. (Source)

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One Hundred Years of Solitude

The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism." less

Barack ObamaWhen asked what books he recommended to his 18-year-old daughter Malia, Obama gave the Times a list that included The Naked and the Dead and One Hundred Years of Solitude. “I think some of them were sort of the usual suspects […] I think she hadn’t read yet. Then there were some books that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting.” Here’s what he... (Source)

Oprah WinfreyBrace yourselves—One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is as steamy, dense and sensual as the jungle that surrounds the surreal town of Macondo! (Source)

Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

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