Which Picador Classic is for you?

03 November 2016

The Picador Classic series mines Picador's backlist of glimmering voices from the past and gives some of our favourite books a new lease of life.

Each Picador Classic includes an introduction – a personal recommendation, if you will – from a well-known writer or public figure with a particular affection for the work. Why not take your next book recommendation from Martin Scorsese, Zadie Smith or Irvine Welsh?

 
Shusaku Endo
 
'It has given me a kind of sustenance that I have found in only a very few works of art.'
- Martin Scorsese 
 
Shusaku Endo's story of an idealistic Jesuit priest's journey to Japan, and into the hands of those who would crush his faith, has been called one of the twentieth century's finest novels. Silence is an astonishing exploration of faith and suffering. 
 
 

American Psycho
Bret Easton Ellis

'One of the greatest novels of our time' - Irvine Welsh


One of the most controversial and talked-about novels of all time, Bret Easton Ellis’ violent black comedy about a wealthy New Yorker leading a double life as a serial killer feels no less shocking and relevant a quarter of a century after it was first published. 

 
 
Alan Hollinghurst
 
'Attains a music rarely heard - or attempted...masterful' - Sebastian Faulks
 
Alan Hollinghurst's Man Booker Prize-winning masterpiece about class, politics and sexuality in Margaret Thatcher's 1980s Britain. It is a novel that defines a decade, exploring with peerless style a young man's collision with his own desires, and with a world he can never truly belong to.
 
 
 
Edward St Aubyn
 
‘Nothing about the plots can prepare you for the rich, acerbic comedy of St Aubyn’s world’ - Zadie Smith
 
Acclaimed for their searing wit and their deep humanity, this magnificent cycle of novels - in which Patrick Melrose battles to survive the savageries of his childhood and lead a self-determined life - is one of the most important series of literary novels of our time.
 
 
 

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Helen Fielding

‘There’s a reason why Bridget Jones’s Diary sold fifteen million copies, and it’s not solely because it’s incredibly quotable and classically funny. Fifteen million women found their stories here and nowhere else.’ - Caitlin Moran

Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?).

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The World’s Wife
Carol Ann Duffy

‘The poems in The World’s Wife are hybrids; first-person, dramatic situations, intimate and theatrical all at the same, as you’d expect from a monologue, but with the authority of a ballad – a legend being told’ - Jeanette Winterson

That saying? Behind every famous man . . . ? The wives of the great, the good, the not so good, and the legendary are given a voice in Carol Ann Duffy’s sparkling and inventive collection.

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Plainsong  
Kent Haruf

‘Kent has that quality which I, for one, would desire in any novelist: a huge imaginative and empathetic reach that embraces all sentient life.’ - Peter Carey

A story of simple lives told with extraordinary empathy, Plainsong is an undeniable classic that explores the grace and hope of every human life and mankind's infinity capacity for love.

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Trumpet
Jackie Kay

‘Funny and visceral, rhythmic, terribly moving, this book about marriage, family, death, loss and grief, song and above all love, whose “scandalous revelation” is a cleansing, empowering and beautiful one, celebrates expansiveness and imaginative shapeshift.’  - Ali Smith

The death of legendary jazz trumpeter Joss Moody exposes an extraordinary secret. Unbeknown to all but his wife, Joss was a woman living as a man. A beautiful modern classic about the lengths to which people will go for love.

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Essays in Love
Alain de Botton

‘It’s a philosophical novel in which love is shown to be the site of greatest paradox: where we become ourselves and lose ourselves . . . where we lose everything and gain everything.’ - Sheila Heti

A unique love story and a classic work of philosophy, Alain de Botton uncovers the mysteries of the human heart. An iconic book - one that should be read by anyone who has ever fallen in love.

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The Long View
Elizabeth Jane Howard

‘Dismay at the human condition ripples beneath a style that sparkles and fizzes’ - Hilary Mantel

Elizabeth Jane Howard's uncannily authentic portrait of a very middle-class marriage traces the lives of Antonia and Conrad Fleming through the eyes of Antonia, as she looks back on her married life and unravels her choices - good and bad - and the motivations behind them.

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The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

‘Sebold makes us believe, just for a little while, in a story about the way we wish it were instead of the way it is.’  - Karen Thompson Walker

In heaven, Susie Salmon can have whatever she wishes for – except what she most wants, which is to be back with the people she loved on earth. An astonishing novel about life and death, memory and forgetting, and finding light in the darkest places.

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Four Letters of Love
Niall Williams

‘From the moment I read the first lines, I was hooked, tumbling headlong into this sweeping, magical tale.’-  John Hurt

Nicholas Coughlan and Isabel Gore are meant for each other – they just don't know it yet. Though each has found both heartache and joy, their paths are yet to cross. A classic love story, seminal work of Irish literature and a testament to romance, magic and the power of true love.

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Quartet in Autumn
Barbara Pym

‘Surely the finest recorder of lives lived on the margins of a shabby and fading England.’ - Alexander McCall Smith

Perhaps Pym’s finest work, Quartet in Autumn follows the lives of Edwin, Norman, Letty and Marcia who work in the same office in 1970s London and suffer the same problem - loneliness.

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A Boy’s Own Story
Edmund White

‘A masterpiece in the literature of adolescence and a pivotal book in the history of gay writing, opening up the landscape of teenage homosexuality with revelatory frankness.’ - Alan Hollinghurst

The story of a young boy growing up in the fifties in an American town. Beset by aloof parents, a cruel sister, and relentless mocking from his peers, our unnamed narrator struggles with his sexuality, seeking consolation in art and literature, and in his own fantastic imagination.

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The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

‘It is a gem of a book, a beautiful and elegiac philosophical story of love and friendship, a reflection on how to distinguish what matters and what does not’ - Kate Mosse

After crash-landing in the Sahara Desert, a pilot encounters a little prince who is visiting Earth from his own planet. Their strange and moving meeting illuminates for the aviator many of life's universal truths, as he comes to learn what it means to be human from a child who is not.

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The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Oliver Sacks

‘At the core of Sacks there is, one feels, a deep reservoir of that quality – so hard to define, yet so often and so speciously valorised – ‘humanity’.’ - Will Self

In his most extraordinary book, Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients with inexplicable and often inescapable neurological disorders. A classic work of psychology and a fascinating exploration of the mysteries of the human mind.

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The Liars’ Club
Mary Karr

‘We are lucky that Mary had the words to unlock her truth, the words to make it sing, the weapons of precision and skill; because her feat allows other stories to sing too.’ - Lena Dunham

Mary Karr grew up in a swampy East Texas refinery town in a volatile and defiantly loving family. In this funny, devastating, haunting memoir Karr paints a harsh world redeemed by her warmth, intelligent humour and finely spun prose.

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