THE 100 BEST BOOKS 
IN THE 
HISTORY OF LITERATURE

 
The editors of The Norwegian Book Clubs asked 100 prominent authors to nominate ten books that, in their opinion, are the ten best and most central works in world literature: These are books that have had a decisive impact on the cultural history of the world and also left an individual mark on the authors own thinking and imagination. John Irving, Salman Rushdie, John le Carré, Nadine Gordimer, Milan Kundera, Christa Wolf, Carlos Fuentes, V.S. Naipaul, Paul Auster, A.S. Byatt, Ben Okri, Orhan Pamuk, Fay Weldon, Wole Soyinka, Bei Dao, Nawal El Saadawi, Yvonne Vera, Astrid Lindgren, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Norman Mailer... - and 80 other prominent authors attended the election.  The results as released in May 2002, showed Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra's Don Quixote as the first choice of the author's polled.  The 100 titles that gathered most votes are listed alphabetically in the table below.

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Chinua Achebe Nigeria b. 1930 Things Fall Apart
Hans Christian Andersen Denmark 1805-1875 Fairy Tales and Stories
Jane Austen England 17745-1817 Pride and Prejudice
Honore de Balzac France 1799-1850 Old Goriot
Samuel Beckett Ireland 1906-1989 Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable
Giovanni Boccaccio Italy 1313-1375 Decameron
Jorge Luis Borges Argentina 1899-1986 Collected Fictions
Emily Bronte England 1818-1848 Wuthering Heights
Albert Camus France 1913-1960 The Stranger
Paul Celan Romania/France 1920-1970 Poems
Louis-Ferdinand Celine France 1894-1961 Journey to the End of Night
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Spain 1747-1616 Don Quixote
Geoffrey Chaucer England 1340-1400 Canterbury Tales
Joseph Conrad England 1857-1924 Nostromo
Dante Alighieri Italy 1265-1321 The Divine Comedy
Charles Dickens England 1812-1870 Great Expectations
Denis Diderot France 1713-1784 Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
Alfred Doblin Germany 1878-1957 Berlin Alexanderplatz
Fyodor M. Dostoevsky Russia 1821-1881 Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Possessed; The Brothers Karamazov
George Eliot England 1819-1880 Middlemarch
Ralph Ellison United States 1914-1994 Invisible Man
Euripides Greece c480-406 BC Medea
William Faulkner United States 1897-1962 Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury
Gustave Flaubert France 1821-1880 Madame Bovary; A Sentimental Education
Federico Garcia Lorca Spain 1898-1936 Gypsy Ballads
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Columbia b. 1928 One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera
Gilgamesh Mesopotamia c 1800 BC  
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Germany 1749-1832 Faust
Nikolai Gogol Russia 1809-1852 Dead Souls
Gunter Grass Germany b. 1927 The Tin Drum
Joao Guimaraes Rosa Brazil 1880-1967 The Devil to Pay in the Backlands
Knut Hamsun Norway 1859-1952 Hunger
Ernest Hemingway United States 1899-1961 The Old Man and the Sea
Homer Greece c 700 BC The Iliad and The Odyssey
Henrik Ibsen Norway 1828-1906 A Doll's House
The Book of Job Israel 600-400 BC  
James Joyce Ireland 1882-1941 Ulysses
Franz Kafka Bohemia 1883-1924 The Complete Stories; The Trial; The Castle 
Kalidasa India c 400 The Recognition of Sakuntala
Yasnuri Kawabata Japan 1899-1972 The Spund of the Mountain
Nikos Kazantzakis Greece 1883-1957 Zorba the Greek
D.H. Lawrence England 1885-1930 Sons and Lovers
Halldor K. Laxness Iceland 1902-1998 Independent People
Giacomo Leopardi Italy 1798-1837 Complete Poems
Doris Lessing England b. 1919 The Golden Notebook
Astrid Lindgren Sweden 1907-2002 Pippi Longstocking
Lu Xun China 1881-1936 Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
Mahabharata India c 500 BC  
Naguib Mahfouz Egypt b. 1911 Children of Gebelawi
Thomas Mann Germany 1875-1955 Buddenbrooks; The Magic Mountain
Herman Melville United States 1819-1891 Moby Dick
Michel de Montaigne France 1533-1592 Essays
Elsa Morante France 1918-1985 History
Toni Morrison United States b. 1931 Beloved
Shikibu Murasaki Japan c 1011 The Tale of Genji
Robert Musil Austria 1880-1942 The Man Without Qualities
Vladimir Nabokov Russia/USA 1899-1977 Lolita
Njals Saga Iceland c 1300  
George Orwell England 1903-1950 1984
Ovid Italy 43 B.C.- 17AD Metamorphoses
Fernando Pessoa Portugal 1888-1935 The Book of Disquiet
Edgar Allan Poe United States 1809-1849 The Complete Tales
Marcel Proust France 1871-1922 Remembrance of Things Past
Francois Rabelais France 1495-1553 Gargantua and Pantagruel
Juan Rulfo Mexico 1918-1986 Pedro Paramo
Jalal ad-din Rumi Iran 1207-1273 Mathnawi (Daylight)
Salman Rushdie India/England b. 1947 Midnight's Children
Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi Iran c 1200-1292 The Orchard
Tayeb Salih Sudan b. 1929 Seasons of Migration to the North
Jose Saramago Portugal b. 1922 Blindness
William Shakespeare England 1564-1616 Hamlet; King Lear; Othello
Sophocles Greece 496-406 B.C. Oedipus the King
Stendhal France 1783-1842 The Red and the Black
Laurence Sterne Ireland 1713-1768 The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy
Italo Svevo Italy 1861-1928 Confessions of Zeno
Jonathan Swift Ireland 1667-1745 Gulliver's Travels
Leo Tolstoy Russia 1828-1910 War and Peace; Anna Karenina; The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories
Anton P. Chekhov Russia 1860-1904 Selected Stories
Thousand and One Nights India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt 700-1500  
Mark Twain United States 1835-1910 The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn
Valmiki India c 300 BC Ramayana
Vergil Italy 70-19 BC The Aeneid
Walt Whitman United States 1819-1892 Leaves of Grass
Virginia Woolf England 1882-1941 Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse
Marguerite Yourcenar France 1903-1987 Memoirs of Hadrian

 
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