The best darkly humorous fiction stocking fillers

Who am I?

I am a dark fiction author. As far back as anyone can remember I have been an introverted creature, with a rapacious appetite for knowledge, a dark sense of humour, and an insatiable appetite for books. Having written eight darkly humorous works of fiction and read dozens of titles that fall into this genre, I believe that I am the ideal person to provide you with recommendations for darkly humorous fiction stocking fillers this Christmas. Think of me as the Santa of darkly humorous fiction. My titles include the Necropolis Series. Their protagonist is Dyson Devereux – a cultured council worker and compulsive murderer with sardonic tendencies.


I wrote...

Necropolis

By Guy Portman,

Book cover of Necropolis

What is my book about?

Dyson has just discovered there is a large reward on offer for the capture of a genocidal fugitive. Dyson thinks he knows exactly where to find him. All the scheming sociopath needs now is a plan. It has to be good, otherwise he will be in big trouble.

Will Dyson get the reward he feels he so richly deserves, or is his destiny to be a life of toil in the Burials and Cemeteries department at Newton Council?

The books I picked & why

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Survivor

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Book cover of Survivor

Why this book?

Tender Branson, the last survivor of the Creedish Church cult, has hijacked an airplane, which is flying on autopilot. His mission now is to dictate his life story onto its black box before the plane crashes.

Survivor is an innovative and erudite social commentary, brimming with satirical observations. Amongst the targets for its irreverent dark humour are death, The Bible, and suicide hotlines. In this reader’s opinion, Survivor is a work of undoubted genius, and one of the author’s best novels.

Survivor

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Survivor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tender Branson-last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult-is dictating his life story into the recorder of Flight 2039, cruising on autopilot at 39,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, Branson will unfold the tale of his journey from an obedient Creedish child and humble domestic servant to an ultra-buffed, steroid- and collagen-packed media messiah.


The Metamorphosis

By Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold (translator),

Book cover of The Metamorphosis

Why this book?

Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. This awkward situation is exacerbated when Gregor’s boss turns up at his house seeking an explanation for his non-attendance at work that day. Gregor’s family only ever valued him for his earning ability. Now they can see no use for him.

This bleak, unsettling, existentialist, and nihilist narrative comments on the human condition and the futility of life. Readers down the years have regaled in this symbolic and dark, humorous story. I am no exception.

The Metamorphosis

By Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold (translator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Metamorphosis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

With this  startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The  Metamorphosis. It is the story of a  young man who, transformed overnight into a giant  beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to  his family, an outsider in his own home, a  quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though  absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The  Metamorphosis has taken its place as one  of the most widely read and influential works of  twentieth-century…


Skagboys

By Irvine Welsh,

Book cover of Skagboys

Why this book?

Skagboys is the prequel to Trainspotting. Its colourful cast of characters hails from the Edinburgh port suburb of Leith. The book is set in the 1980s against a backdrop of HIV, Thatcherism, and the rise of dance music. The extensive employment of Scottish vernacular makes traversing this tome (548 pages) challenging but rewarding.

I was mesmerised by the lurid descriptions, dark humour, diverse prose, and the memorable, amoral characters. Skagboys will appeal to all fans of darkly humorous fiction and transgressive fiction.

Skagboys

By Irvine Welsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skagboys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mark Renton has it all: he's good-looking, young, with a pretty girlfriend and a place at university. But there's no room for him in the 1980s. Thatcher's government is destroying working-class communities across Britain, and the post-war certainties of full employment, educational opportunity and a welfare state are gone. When his family starts to fracture, Mark's life swings out of control and he succumbs to the defeatism which has taken hold in Edinburgh's grimmer areas. The way out is heroin.

It's no better for his friends. Spud Murphy is paid off from his job, Tommy Lawrence feels himself being sucked…


Knockemstiff

By Donald Ray Pollock,

Book cover of Knockemstiff

Why this book?

These interlinked short stories are set in ‘The Holler’; an impoverished part of Knockemstiff, an Ohioan backwater. The book’s lengthy timeline (mid-60s – late 90s) allows the reader to revisit the same people at different stages in their lives. This compelling aspect lends the compilation a cohesion that is so often lacking in short story collections. 

The grubby setting, visceral prose, and dark humour are a potent combination. I would not hesitate in recommending these authentic tales of the underclass.

Knockemstiff

By Donald Ray Pollock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knockemstiff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Blunt, brutal, but infused with a deep sympathy, Knockemstiff is a pitch-dark and hilarious collection of stories set in a tiny town in Southern Ohio.

The youth of Knockemstiff grow up in the malignant shadow of their parents; raised on abuse, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, they are stunted in every possible way: emotionally, mentally, sometimes physically. They talk a lot about escape but they never so much as cross the county line.


An Ice-Cream War

By William Boyd,

Book cover of An Ice-Cream War

Why this book?

Set during WWI, the story vacillates between Kent and German and British East Africa. There are a host of colourful and caricatured characters. An Ice-Cream War’s motif is the absurdness of war. Its author is unwavering in presenting the East African campaign as utterly futile. 

The book’s grave content is laced with humour of the dark variety, in addition to occasional gruesome descriptions. This unpredictable serio-comedy’s blend of tragedy and black humour appealed to me.   

An Ice-Cream War

By William Boyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Ice-Cream War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Rich in character and incident, An Ice-Cream War fulfills the ambition of the historical novel at its best."
--The New York Times Book Review

Booker Prize Finalist

"Boyd has more than fulfilled the bright promise of [his] first novel. . . . He is capable not only of some very funny satire but also of seriousness and compassion."  --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

1914. In a hotel room in German East Africa, American farmer Walter Smith dreams of Theodore Roosevelt. As he sleeps, a railway passenger swats at flies, regretting her decision to return to the Dark Continent--and to…


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