The Best 99 Novels Since 1939 (According to Anthony Burgess)

Before There Was Buzzfeed, There Was Burgess

Author Anthony Burgess, whose name was actually John Anthony Burgess Wilson, was most famous for writing the dystopian satire classic "A Clockwork Orange". Being an avid reader in addition to being an author, he also felt the need to publish his own list of the best 99 novels "since 1939". The book was published in 1983, so obviously he missed a fair bit in the last 33 years, but still contains an excellent resource for starting a library or building a "To Be Read" list (TBR). Why did he start in 1939? Don't know. Why did he include "Finnegan's Wake"? Definitely don't know. Perhaps he'll put in an appearance this All Hallow's Eve and we'll be able to ask him.

In order to vet the list a bit and check that the titles have stood the test of time, they are listed below in descending order of their Goodreads ratings. Enjoy!

The Ninety-Nine Books:

1. Henry Williamson – A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (1951) - 4.52 Rating

2. James Baldwin – Another Country (1962) - 4.29 Rating

3. Alexander Theroux – Darconville's Cat (1981) - 4.26 Rating

4. Evelyn Waugh – Sword of Honour (1952) - 4.25 Rating

5. Raymond Chandler – The Long Goodbye (1953) - 4.22 Rating

6. Gore Vidal – Creation (1981) - 4.21 Rating

7. Herman Wouk – The Caine Mutiny (1951) - 4.21 Rating

8. Vladimir Nabokov – Pale Fire (1962) - 4.19 Rating

9. Olivia Manning – The Balkan Trilogy (1960) - 4.18 Rating

10. William Styron – Sophie's Choice (1979) - 4.18 Rating

11. Lawrence Durrell – The Alexandria Quartet (1957) - 4.17 Rating

12. W. Somerset Maugham – The Razor's Edge (1944) - 4.17 Rating

13. Alasdair Gray – Lanark (1981) - 4.14 Rating

14. George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) - 4.12 Rating

15. Budd Schulberg – The Disenchanted (1950) - 4.11 Rating

16. William Faulkner – The Mansion (1959) - 4.1 Rating

17. Christopher Isherwood – A Single Man (1964) - 4.1 Rating

18. Robertson Davies – The Rebel Angels (1982) - 4.09 Rating

19. T. H. White – The Once and Future King (1958) - 4.07 Rating

20. Len Deighton – Bomber (1970) - 4.06 Rating

21. Joyce Cary – The Horse's Mouth (1944) - 4.03 Rating

22. Russell Hoban – Riddley Walker (1980) - 4.03 Rating

23. Thomas Pynchon – Gravity's Rainbow (1973) - 4.03 Rating

24. Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory (1940) - 3.99 Rating

25. Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited (1945) - 3.99 Rating

26. Graham Greene – The Heart of the Matter (1948) - 3.98 Rating

27. Joseph Heller – Catch-22 (1961) - 3.97 Rating

28. Patrick White – Riders in the Chariot (1961) - 3.97 Rating

29. Colin MacInnes – The London Novels (1957) - 3.96 Rating

30. Vladimir Nabokov – The Defense (1964) - 3.96 Rating

31. William Cooper – Scenes from Provincial Life (1950) - 3.95 Rating

32. Ernest Hemingway – For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) - 3.95 Rating

33. Anthony Powell – A Dance to the Music of Time (1951) - 3.94 Rating

34. Norman Mailer – The Naked and the Dead (1948) - 3.93 Rating

35. Flann O'Brien – At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) - 3.92 Rating

36. Walker Percy – The Last Gentleman (1966) - 3.92 Rating

37. Paul Mark Scott – Staying On (1977) - 3.91 Rating

38. Mervyn Peake – Titus Groan (1946) - 3.9 Rating

39. Flannery O'Connor – Wise Blood (1952) - 3.89 Rating

40. Nevil Shute – No Highway (1948) - 3.88 Rating

41. John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) - 3.88 Rating

42. Bernard Malamud – The Assistant (1957) - 3.87 Rating

43. Chinua Achebe – A Man of the People – (1966) - 3.86 Rating

44. Saul Bellow – Humboldt's Gift (1975) - 3.86 Rating

45. Aldous Huxley – Island (1962) - 3.86 Rating

46. John Fowles – The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) - 3.85 Rating

47. Iris Murdoch – The Bell (1958) - 3.85 Rating

48. J. B. Priestley – The Image Men (1968) - 3.85 Rating

49. James Plunkett – Farewell Companions (1977) - 3.83 Rating

50. Alan Sillitoe – Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) - 3.83 Rating

51. Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man (1952) - 3.82 Rating

52. Ian Fleming – Goldfinger (1959) - 3.8 Rating

53. Malcolm Lowry – Under the Volcano (1947) - 3.8 Rating

54. Paul Theroux – The Mosquito Coast (1981) - 3.8 Rating

55. Kingsley Amis – Lucky Jim (1954) - 3.79 Rating

56. John Barth – Giles Goat-Boy (1966) - 3.78 Rating

57. Robert Nye – Falstaff (1976) - 3.78 Rating

58. J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye (1951) - 3.78 Rating

59. R. K. Narayan – The Vendor of Sweets (1967) - 3.77 Rating

60. Brian Moore – The Doctor's Wife (1976) - 3.76 Rating

61. V. S. Naipaul – A Bend in the River (1979) - 3.76 Rating

62. Aldous Huxley – Ape and Essence (1948) - 3.75 Rating

63. Doris Lessing – The Golden Notebook (1962) - 3.75 Rating

64. William Sansom – The Body (1949) - 3.75 Rating

65. Aldous Huxley – After Many a Summer (1939) - 3.74 Rating

66. David Lodge – How Far Can You Go? (1980) - 3.74 Rating

67. Bernard Malamud – Dubin's Lives (1979) - 3.74 Rating

68. John O'Hara – The Lockwood Concern (1965) - 3.73 Rating

69. C. P. Snow – Strangers and Brothers (1940) - 3.73 Rating

70. J. G. Ballard – The Unlimited Dream Company (1979) - 3.7 Rating

71. John Braine – Room at the Top (1957) - 3.7 Rating

72. Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea (1952) - 3.7 Rating

73. Keith Roberts – Pavane (1968) - 3.7 Rating

74. Philip Roth – Portnoy's Complaint (1969) - 3.69 Rating

75. James Joyce – Finnegans Wake (1939) - 3.66 Rating

76. Muriel Spark – The Girls of Slender Means (1963) - 3.65 Rating

77. Rex Warner – The Aerodrome (1941) - 3.64 Rating

78. Malcolm Bradbury – The History Man (1975) - 3.62 Rating

79. Erica Jong – How to Save Your Own Life (1977) - 3.59 Rating

80. Henry Green – Party Going (1939) - 3.57 Rating

81. Michael Frayn – Sweet Dreams (1973) - 3.56 Rating

82. Nadine Gordimer – The Late Bourgeois World (1966) - 3.53 Rating

83. William Golding – The Spire (1964) - 3.52 Rating

84. Muriel Spark – The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) - 3.52 Rating

85. Saul Bellow – The Victim (1947) - 3.5 Rating

86. Richard Hughes – The Fox in the Attic (1961) - 3.49 Rating

87. Ivy Compton-Burnett – The Mighty and Their Fall (1961) - 3.48 Rating

88. Wilson Harris – Heartland (1964) - 3.47 Rating

89. Elizabeth Bowen – The Heat of the Day (1949) - 3.44 Rating

90. John Updike – The Coup (1978) - 3.43 Rating

91. Kingsley Amis – The Anti-Death League (1966) - 3.41 Rating

92. Angus Wilson – Late Call (1964) - 3.41 Rating

93. Angus Wilson – The Old Men at the Zoo (1961) - 3.4 Rating

94. Norman Mailer – Ancient Evenings (1983) - 3.39 Rating

95. L. P. Hartley – Facial Justice (1960) - 3.37 Rating

96. Mary McCarthy – The Groves of Academe (1952) - 3.31 Rating

97. Pamela Hansford Johnson – An Error of Judgement (1962) - 3.25 Rating

98. Mordecai Richler – Cocksure (1968) - 3.24 Rating

99. Brian Aldiss – Life in the West (1980) - 3.03 Rating

How many have you read? Are there any on the list that make you want to dig up Burgess and make him remove it