Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Seven novels about family members making each other miserable

Stacey Swann holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a contributing editor of American Short Fiction. She is a native Texan.

Swann's debut novel is Olympus, Texas.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven novels about very dysfunctional families, including:
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley takes one of Shakespeare’s dysfunctional families, mad King Lear and his daughters, and updates them to modern Iowa in this 1991 novel. Instead of his kingdom, father Larry is dividing one thousand acres of farm land between his three daughters. Caroline, like Cordelia, questions her father’s plans and is cut out, and a chain of events leads us to a secret hidden in the family even darker than the themes found in Shakespeare. There are complicated ambiguities in how our narrator, Ginny, sees her and her sister Rose’s lives...
Read about another entry on the list.

A Thousand Acres is among Robert McCrum's ten top Shakespearean books, Rachel Mans McKenny's eleven books about midwesterners who aren’t trying to be nice, Hannah Beckerman's top ten toxic families in fiction, Brian Boone's five books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works, Edward Docx's top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, Emma Donoghue's six best books, Anne Tyler's six favorite books, Sally O'Reilly ten top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, and John Mullan's top ten twice-told tales.

--Marshal Zeringue