Great Novels: The World’s Most Remarkable Fiction Explored and Explained

DK Oct. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9780744060089. $35. REF
Lists books are fun, even if only for readers who enjoy scoffing at the author or editor’s choices. But the best of them also offer helpful and enjoyable information that leave the reader enriched and ready to find out more. This book is one of those. Featuring DK’s image and detail-rich format, essays are offered in chronological sections, ranging from before 1800 on up to the present, with 10 to 20 entries in each section (more in the sections on recent works). Coverage is indeed worldwide, as the title suggests, with examples including Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, but European works dominate. High school, community college, and early undergraduate students of literature will benefit from the accessible coverage of each work, which includes an engaging overview of the work at hand (not a Cliff Notes–type summary). They and general readers will appreciate a standout feature of this work, the context offered as to what was going on in the world when the work was written, details that are often illuminate the work’s genesis. Inset fact boxes and rich captions for the many colorful, historical context images and reproductions, authors’ photos, and book pages keep the work lively.
VERDICT A worthwhile purchase for public library, high school, community college, and undergraduate collections.
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