White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s first novel is a comic take on life in North London. Follow WWII friends Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, an unlikely pair, as they navigate marriage, parenthood, religion and more among the racially charged backdrop of late-20th-century London.
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Go back to university with Professor Dixon, a history lecturer in the English Midlands, as he pursues tenure, attempts to publish his first scholarly article and struggles with his love life.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Dive into the immigrant neighborhoods of East London where Nazneen has been transplanted from a Bangladeshi village after an arranged marriage to a much older man. Nearly imprisoned in a city housing project, Nazneen finds escape in an affair as her daughters struggle to find their place in a multicultural world.
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Alan Hollinghurst’s social satire revolves around 20-year-old Nick Guest, who has moved into the attic of a wealthy, conservative Notting Hill MP and his family. Follow Nick as he learns about politics, money, love (or lust, we’ll let you decide), beauty and power — bookended by two general elections.
The English: A Portrait of a People by Jeremy Paxman
In this nonfiction exploration, journalist Jeremy Paxman attempts to answer the question: Who are the English? Through fascinating anecdotes, Paxman paints a portrait of English culture and attitudes with humor and wit.
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
This piece of historical fiction takes readers back to 1940s London, following the lives of three women and a young man and their secrets, loyalties and demons. The thrilling novel takes unexpected twists with WWII as its backdrop.
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson
This is a list of modern English literature, but we thought adding an exploration of England from the point of view of an American and a professional traveler may help give some special context to your adventure. Join Bill Bryson on his quirky and hilarious travels off the beaten track in England.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Take the shotgun seat on a motoring trip through the countryside of 1950s England with Stevens, a career butler as he reflects on his decades of service, an unrealized love, two world wars and the time he has left.
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
This semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel follows the adolescence of Jeanette, an orphan who has been adopted by evangelists in central England, her religious journey and its juxtaposition to her sexuality.
Waterland by Graham Swift
Waterland tells the family history of four generations and the haunting past of Tom Crick, a 52-year-old history teacher being forced into retirement, through his fragmented narrative.
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Described as “enchanting, provocative and original,” this comic novel full of colloquialism begins in an English suburb in the wake of Thatcherism. Nearly autobiographical, it follows the teenage life of Karim, born to English and Indian parents, as he navigates life in suburbia, New York and London in the 1970s.
The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell
This mystery begins in 1944 with a group of children who play in a network of underground tunnels they’ve discovered in Loughton, Essex, England. Seventy years later, construction workers discover that same network of tunnels, along with some skeletal remains. The children are reunited to help uncover the truth behind the buried bones.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
This captivating novel alternates between the points of view of Little Bee, an illegal refugee and victim of the Nigerian oil conflict, and Sarah O’Rourke, a recent widow, as Sarah harbors Little Bee in her home.
More authors to check out:
Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Peter Robinson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, William Shakespeare, Henry Fielding, George Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Anthony Powell, Muriel Spark, Iris Murdoch, Hilary Mantell, John Galsworthy, E.M. Forster, Henry Fielding, Ben Aaronovitch, Joseph Conrad, Ian McEwan, George Orwell, Charlotte Bronte, Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Emily Bronte, Pat Barker, Colin Dexter, Alan Hollinghurst, Kingsley Amis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Colin Dexter, Julian Barnes and Graham Greene