More Experimental Thrillers

I was delighted that my ‘Top 10 Experimental Thrillers’ piece for Guardian Books during the holidays (27/12/2017) prompted much online discussion, both about the titles I discuss – by Robbe-Grillet, Duras, Burroughs, Headley, Perec, et al – and of course about the many other possible contenders for inclusion. I promised (rather rashly) to pull these suggestions together for ease of reference.

Firstly, here is my reserve list. The ten novels (and Michael Moorcock’s short story collection) that I considered, but that didn’t make it into my final Top 10 for Guardian Books:

  • Michael Moorcock, The Metatemporal Detective

  • Tom McCarthy, Men in Space

  • Roberto Bolano, 2666

  • Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller…

  • Gertrude Stein, Blood on the Dining Room Floor

  • Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

  • Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman

  • Antonio Tabucchi, Pereira Maintains

  • Samuel Beckett, Mallone Dies

  • M John Harrison, Nova Swing

And here (with no additional commentary from me) are the suggestions made by friends – mainly on Facebook – and in reader comments submitted on Guardian Books in response to my article. N.B. i) where readers suggested an author or a body of work, I have selected one illustrative title. N.B. ii) suggestions of novels that were merely ‘experimental’, or the various suggestions for alternative introductions to the oeuvre of William S. Burroughs – rather than experimental thrillers per se – have not been included here:

  • Ivan Vladislavić, 101 Detectives

  • Trevor Hoyle, Blind Needle

  • Sebastian Japrisot, The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun

  • Georges Simenon, The Man Who Watched Trains Go By

  • Boileu-Narcejac, The Living and the Dead

  • Friedrich Durrenmatt, Suspicion

  • Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

  • Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

  • Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley

  • John Franklin Bardin, The Deadly Percheron

  • Michel Houellebecq, The Map and the Territory

  • Richard Brautigan, Dreaming of Babylon

  • Kobo Abe, The Ruined Map

  • Norman Spinrad, Bug Jack Barron

  • Andrea Marie Schenkel, The Dark Meadow

  • Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

  • China Mieville, The City and the City

  • Jean Patrick Manchette, The Prone Gunman

  • Leonardo Sciascia, The Day of the Owl

  • Carlo Emilio Gadda, Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana

  • Cameron McCabe, The Face on the Cutting Room Floor

  • Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man

  • Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemens’ Union

  • Agatha Christie, The ABC Murders

  • Michel Butor, L’emploi du temps / Passing Time

With thanks to Chris Power, Aaron Williamson, Jason Bowman, Nicholas Royle, abkquan, Laurence Bury, stvkiley, renaultfloride, kushti, keithyd, Matthew Cobb, praxismakesperfec, andrew staines, referendum, Martin Silenus, proust.


Tony White, ‘Top 10 Experimental Thrillers’, Guardian Books

‘Under the Paving Stones’ — Faber Social and Tony White present a night of experimental fiction with Iphgenia Baal, Kirsty Gunn, Stewart Home, Joanna Walsh, Tony White and Eley Williams – 19 February 7:00 pm.

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