100 books like The Dead Father

By Donald Barthelme,

Here are 100 books that The Dead Father fans have personally recommended if you like The Dead Father. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Tenth of December: Stories

Giselle Leeb Author Of Mammals, I Think We Are Called

From my list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had no expectations about what the first short stories I wrote would end up being like. Although I’d read mostly realistic literary fiction before starting to write, most of my stories included fantastical elements. This set me off reading and writing stories categorised as weird, cross-genre, slipstream, magical realist, fantastic, fabulist, horror, soft sci-fi, and surreal. The thing that struck me was how slippery these categories are. But what unites them is their openness to unbounded imagination. Like a lens concentrating a fire, their strange and fantastical techniques amplify feelings and reality in unique ways, while always paying attention to language. It’s been a thrilling, exciting ride!

Giselle's book list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination

Giselle Leeb Why did Giselle love this book?

One of my top short story writers, the word ‘unique’ was invented for Saunders. Selling in the literary category, he has a vernacular style all his own. His stories comment on American society and the horrors of capitalism but never shove a message down your throat. Saunders is simply immersed in these concerns and it comes out naturally in his writing. His stories contain sci-fi and futuristic elements, and use these, as well as a deadpan surrealism, to comment on the now. The story I will never forget from this collection is "The Semplica Girl Diaries", in which ‘Semplica Girls’, women from ‘third-world’ countries, are trafficked to be used as human lawn ornaments. Saunders faces things head-on, with dark hilarity.

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Tenth of December as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**ESCAPE FROM SPIDERHEAD NOW STREAMING ON NETFLIX - STARRING CHRIS HEMSWORTH AND MILES TELLER** The prize-winning, New York Times bestselling short story collection from the internationally bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo 'The best book you'll read this year' New York Times 'Dazzlingly surreal stories about a failing America' Sunday Times WINNER OF THE 2014 FOLIO PRIZE AND SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2013 George Saunders's most wryly hilarious and disturbing collection yet, Tenth of December illuminates human experience and explores figures lost in a labyrinth of troubling preoccupations. A family member recollects a backyard pole dressed for…


Book cover of A Confederacy of Dunces

Toby LeBlanc Author Of Dark Roux

From my list on South Louisiana culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Scott, Louisiana, I didn’t know that everyone else in the United States did not get Mardi Gras off from school and work. I thought everyone knew some French. Crawfish boils were a natural, expectable part of every spring. South Louisiana is a world unto itself. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate my heritage, my Cajun lineage, and the sometimes-befuddling ways we Louisianians look at that world. Between conversations with elders, reading historical documents, and even looking at land transfer maps, I’ve become even more grounded in what being from this little wet corner of the world means. 

Toby's book list on South Louisiana culture

Toby LeBlanc Why did Toby love this book?

This Pulitzer Prize winner remains a time-tested testament to the absurdity that is New Orleans.

I felt like I’d met every one of the characters at least twice in my own walks on the streets of this storied city. I could even taste the Lucky Dogs. This is one of the few books to have me consistently laugh out loud. You can even take a picture with the statue of Ignatius J Reilly (the main character) on Canal Street.

By John Kennedy Toole,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Confederacy of Dunces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE BBC'S 100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED OUR WORLD

'This is probably my favourite book of all time' Billy Connolly

A pithy, laugh-out-loud story following John Kennedy Toole's larger-than-life Ignatius J. Reilly, floundering his way through 1960s New Orleans, beautifully resigned with cover art by Gary Taxali
_____________

'This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians . . . don't make the mistake of bothering me.'

Ignatius J. Reilly: fat, flatulent, eloquent and almost unemployable. By the standards of ordinary folk he is pretty much…


Book cover of My Life and Hard Times

James W. Morris Author Of Rude Baby

From my list on literary fiction to laugh out loud.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I wrote a series of plays with my family as characters. Everyone (even the dog and cat) had lines that demonstrated their quirks, except me—the sane and reasonable one. When I performed these playlets for my mother (performing all parts, since no one else would co-operate) she laughed so hard she cried, and it’s fair to say my subsequent writing career has been an attempt to recapture the feelings that experience generated. Beginning as a joke writer (including a stint working for Jay Leno), I now focus on literary fiction, though humor is always a part of my work.

James' book list on literary fiction to laugh out loud

James W. Morris Why did James love this book?

I received a copy of this book as a gift on my eleventh birthday, and by the time I’d finished reading it, I had decided to become a writer. What seems at first to be a simply-written series of reminiscences from Thurber’s boyhood in Columbus, Ohio is in fact a fake (or at least exaggeration-filled) memoir, full of tales about charmingly addled characters and unlikely incidents. The chapter entitled “The Dog that Bit People” is my personal favorite.

By James Thurber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life and Hard Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Bantam Classic, published in 1961. Cover and spine a little rough. Book appears to be unopened (unread). Pages lightly tan with age. Clean, bright used copy with tight binding. NEVER a library book./jl


Book cover of Zazie in the Metro

James W. Morris Author Of Rude Baby

From my list on literary fiction to laugh out loud.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I wrote a series of plays with my family as characters. Everyone (even the dog and cat) had lines that demonstrated their quirks, except me—the sane and reasonable one. When I performed these playlets for my mother (performing all parts, since no one else would co-operate) she laughed so hard she cried, and it’s fair to say my subsequent writing career has been an attempt to recapture the feelings that experience generated. Beginning as a joke writer (including a stint working for Jay Leno), I now focus on literary fiction, though humor is always a part of my work.

James' book list on literary fiction to laugh out loud

James W. Morris Why did James love this book?

I bought an English version of this French novel about Paris while actually in that city as a starving backpacker, and have forever associated the wacky joyfulness of the book with the pleasures of that trip. Originally written in a high-energy, idiomatic, slangy, bawdy version of French that scandalized many conservative readers, the plot involves a young country girl named Zazie, obsessed with the Parisian subway system called the Metro, though she’s never seen it. Finally allowed to visit her uncle in the city, she is outraged to find the Metro closed, its workers on strike. She runs away, roaming the crowded city streets, her hilarious extended tantrum not only upsetting her befuddled uncle’s safe and settled lifestyle, but also spreading a generalized craziness throughout Paris. 

By Raymond Queneau, Barbara Wright (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zazie in the Metro as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Impish, foul-mouthed Zazie arrives in Paris from the country to stay with Gabriel, her female-impersonator uncle. All she really wants to do is ride the metro, but finding it shut because of a strike, Zazie looks for other means of amusement and is soon caught up in a comic adventure that becomes wilder and more manic by the minute. In 1960 Queneau's cult classic was made into a hugely successful film by Louis Malle. Packed full of word play and phonetic games, Zazie in the Metro remains as stylish and witty as ever.


Book cover of Dearest Josephine

Hope Bolinger Author Of Dear Hero

From my list on experimental prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I write a book, I try to write it differently from what I’ve seen. I love high concept ideas and always want to give something different. Readers are shifting in their tastes and want to see something fresh, and so I hope I can always give them something new and exciting.

Hope's book list on experimental prose

Hope Bolinger Why did Hope love this book?

Not only does this have a ton of timelines and things to keep track of, but it’s a beautiful love story that you can’t help but turn the pages quickly. It’s the perfect match for someone who likes all things Jane Austen and are wanting something with a little bit more of a modern feel to that.

By Caroline George,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dearest Josephine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Love arrives at the most unexpected time . . .

1821: Elias Roch has ghastly luck with women. He met Josephine De Clare once and penned dozens of letters hoping to find her again.

2021: Josie De Clare has questionable taste in boyfriends. The last one nearly ruined her friendship with her best friend.

Now, in the wake of her father's death, Josie finds Elias's letters. Suddenly she's falling in love with a guy who lived two hundred years ago. And star-crossed doesn't even begin to cover it . . .

"Dearest Josephine is the type of story that becomes…


Book cover of In Country

Alice K. Boatwright Author Of Collateral Damage

From my list on the Vietnam War and what it all meant.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alice K. Boatwright has lived in the US, England, France, and India – and her career as a writer about public health, education, and the arts has taken her around the world. She began writing short stories when she was young and holds an MFA in Writing Fiction from Columbia University. Her award-winning book about the Vietnam War era, Collateral Damage, was inspired by her own experiences during the war years in the US and the time she spent working on a project in Vietnam in 1993 and 1997. She is also the author of a short story chapbook, Sea, Sky, Islands; numerous stories published in journals, such as Calyx, Mississippi Review Online, America West, Penumbra, Stone Canoe, and Amarillo Bay; and the popular Ellie Kent mysteries, based on her experiences as an ex-pat living in an English village.

Alice's book list on the Vietnam War and what it all meant

Alice K. Boatwright Why did Alice love this book?

This classic 1985 novel is a favorite because it broadens the focus to the impact of the war on the families. Set in 1984, the protagonist Samantha Hughes never knew her father, who was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Her uncle, who survived the war, is living with PTSD from his experiences there, and teenage Sam is trying to make sense of it all. The expression “in country” refers to time served at the site of a military operation (in this case, metaphorically, in Vietnam). The Los Angeles Times called this novel "A moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."

By Bobbie Ann Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bobbie Ann Mason’s debut novel—"a brilliant and moving book... a moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."  —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“How Ms. Mason conjures a vivid image of the futility of war and its searing legacy of confusion out of the searching questions or a naïve later generation is nothing short of masterful.” —Kansas City Star

Samantha “Sam” Hughes is in her senior year of high school in rural Kentucky. Her father, whom she never knew, was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Sam lives with her uncle Emmett, a veteran who appears to be…


Book cover of A Journal of My Father

Milena Michiko Flašar Author Of Mr Kato Plays Family

From my list on diving into modern Japan from someone half Japanese.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone half-Japanese who grew up in Austria, I've spent the last few years making sense of my relationship to my mother’s homeland. My mother spoke Japanese to us children from an early age, and we spent many childhood summers with our grandparents in Okayama. Because of this, my mother's home feels intimate and familiar to me. But it is also distant and foreign, and it is precisely this unknown, the seemingly exotic and mysterious, that I hope to approach through reading. For me, Japan is a kind of poetic space I set my characters in. In my last three books Japan was both the setting and the secret protagonist.

Milena's book list on diving into modern Japan from someone half Japanese

Milena Michiko Flašar Why did Milena love this book?

Now, I am no friend to graphic novels. As a novelist I prefer a story told in long strokes. For Taniguchi Jiro, however, I make an exception.

When I stumbled across A Journal of My Father, I was initially skeptical. Page after page, however, with an almost cinematic panorama laid out before me, I found myself in complete awe of the fine power of observation that Taniguchi brings to the small things in life. The simple and still finds artistic expression in his work, the every day suddenly seems notable, and anyone who – like me – often finds themselves reaching for a handkerchief, consider yourself warned: this touches you, though without a show of sentimentality.

After the death of his father, a man travels to his hometown and, through various conversations and encounters, pursues memories that have stayed with him since childhood. That doesn’t sound all that exciting. But…

By Jiro Taniguchi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Journal of My Father as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

KNOW THY FATHER The book opens with some childhood thoughts of Yoichi Yamashita spurred by a phone call at work informing him of his father’s death. So, he journeys back to his hometown after an absence of well over a decade during which time he has not seen his father. But as the relatives gather for the funeral and the stories start to flow, Yoichi’s childhood starts to resurface. The Spring afternoons playing on the floor of his father’s barber shop, the fire that ravaged the city and his family home, his parents’ divorce and a new ‘mother’. Through confidences…


Book cover of Ghana Must Go

Vibhuti Jain Author Of Our Best Intentions

From my list on father-daughter relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a debut novelist writing stories that peel back the layers of complex and often fraught relationships with those who are closest to us, family relationships being among the most intriguing to me. I wrote a novel focused on a single father and his daughter in part as a tribute to my own incredible father, who has dedicated his life to bettering life for my mother, my brother, and me. I also think father-daughter stories go largely unwritten and uncelebrated, so Our Best Intentions is my attempt to fill that void.

Vibhuti's book list on father-daughter relationships

Vibhuti Jain Why did Vibhuti love this book?

This is the story of the relationships and legacy of surgeon Kweku Sai, who passes away of a heart attack in his garden in Ghana in the opening pages of this page-turning family drama. The novel explores Kweku’s relationships with each of his four children and how each makes sense of and mourns his death.

While slightly different than the other selections in this list in that it doesn’t focus on a single father-daughter relationship, the novel nonetheless explores the complexity of Kweku’s estranged relationships with each of his children, including his daughters Taiwo and Sadie. 

By Taiye Selasi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghana Must Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "buoyant" and "rapturous" debut novel (The Wall Street Journal) about the transformative power of unconditional love

Electric, exhilarating, and beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go introduces the world to Taiye Selasi, a novelist of extraordinary talent. In a sweeping narrative that takes readers from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, it is at once a portrait of a modern family and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are.

A renowned surgeon and failed husband, Kweku Sai dies suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of his death…


Book cover of Pure Colour

Liz Jensen Author Of The Rapture

From my list on psychic powers, consciousness, and the numinous.

Why am I passionate about this?

From when I first learned to read, books opened a whole new world, which has given me vast pleasure ever since. I think it’s made me wiser, too. But it wasn’t until the sudden death of my younger son in 2020 that I began to read about the edges of the known world, and to discover that by opening my mind I could re-learn what I instinctively knew as a young child: that we come from somewhere else. Even before encountering tragedy, I’d been fascinated by the dividing line between what science can prove, and what still remains conjecture: it’s a theme I have returned to again and again in my fiction. 

Liz's book list on psychic powers, consciousness, and the numinous

Liz Jensen Why did Liz love this book?

The moment Mira’s father dies, Mira experiences an epiphany and becomes transformed into a being that can be anything and go anywhere. Inhabiting this metaphysical space in the form of a leaf on a tree, the grieving but “awakened” Mira contemplates consciousness, the divine, and the nature of the afterlife. Heti is always an intriguing, left-field kind of writer and this slim novel is a quirky, deceptively simple exploration of some of life's most intriguing paradoxes.

By Sheila Heti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Beautiful and impossible to put down. Sheila Heti is a genius.' Avni Doshi

'This one-of-a-kind novel... feels nothing less than vital.' Observer

'Pure Colour is an original, a book that says something new for our difficult times.' Anne Enright, Guardian

'A treat to read.' Stylist

*A Guardian, Financial Times, New Statesman, Daily Mail, AnOther and Cosmopolitan Books for 2022 pick*

What if this world is just a first draft, made by some great artist in order to be destroyed?

In this first draft, a woman named Mira leaves home to study. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira's…


Book cover of Hope and Glory

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn Author Of Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?

From my list on that pay homage to south London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up and gone to school in south London, it will always have a special place in my heart. Call me biased, but I think it’s the best place in the capital. Hands down. I love that it’s home to many Afro-Caribbean families and how its cultural presence can be felt by just walking down any street. From the bustling markets selling plantain, yams, and hard dough bread to the throng of aunties wearing brightly-coloured, patterned lace as they make their way to church. With south London being so atmospheric, I knew I had to include it as a setting in my novel. It will always be my first home.  

Lizzie's book list on that pay homage to south London

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn Why did Lizzie love this book?

Hope and Glory has to be one of the most relatable books I’ve ever read, and not just because it’s set in my old stomping ground, Peckham. It follows Hope, a twenty-something British Nigerian who, after returning to London for her dad’s funeral, discovers a life-shattering family secret. What I loved about this book was that I felt as though the author was writing a love letter to those individuals who didn’t have it easy growing up and whose stories are not often told in mainstream fiction. I feel as though Hope and Glory will provide a sigh of relief for so many readers; I, for one, certainly felt seen. Beautifully observed, heartfelt and authentic, I felt a xylophone of emotions while reading this exquisite novel, but in the end, very hopeful.

By Jendella Benson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'So deliciously South London.' - Yomi Adegoke, author of SLAY IN YOUR LANE

'A sweeping, rich tale that explores family, secrets, loss, love and redemption within the context of a tessellation of cultures - written with a beautiful texture, Benson pulls you in to a deftly-woven story with tautly-written sentences, and before you know it you find yourself in too deep to get out, too deep to want to get out, wanting to know more.'
- Bolu Babalola, author of LOVE IN COLOUR

'Jendella Benson has drawn such a compelling world that Hope and Glory, the book and the characters…


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