Dhalgren by Samuel R. DelanyRead about another entry on the list.
Why It’s Weird: It opens with a man making love to a woman who turns into a tree. It ends with this:
“But I still hear them walking in the trees: not speaking. Waiting here, away from the terrifying weaponry, out of the halls of vapor and light, beyond holland into the hills, I have come to”
Dhalgren takes place in a burning, dilapidated, extra-dimensional city named Bellona, and it’s famous for its non-linear narrative, which requires multiple readings to get a lot of meaning out of.
Why It’s Required: Dhalgren is full of mythological references, and layers of meaning. It’s also a fascinatingly contentious book. The novel has drawn praise from Umberto Eco: “I consider Delany not only one of the most important SF writers of the present generation, but a fascinating writer in general who has invented a new style.” It’s become a stage play and a MOO, and it’s been compared to Pynchon. The original edition sold more than a million copies.
Dhalgren is a book Junot Díaz always returns to and one of William Gibson's six favorite books.