Essay Collections from Literary-Fiction Authors

Literary-fiction authors tackle big ideas like love, death, and politics in their work, but they don’t approach these themes solely through the characters they create. They ruminate and explore them personally, through essays. We have five revelatory collections to start with:

 

Blue Nights
Author: Joan Didion
Read By: Kimberly Farr

Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, these essays examine Didion’s thoughts, fears, and doubts about having children, illness, and growing old.
Listen to an excerpt Blue Nights

Discontent and its Civilizations
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Read By: Mohsin Hamid

This collection of essays displays intimate and sharply observed commentary on life, art, politics, and the “war on terror.”
Listen to an excerpt Discontent and Its Civilizations

The Ecstasy of Influence

Jonathan Lethem muses on sex in cinema, drugs, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, book touring, and Marlon Brando, as well as his literary models and contemporaries. And in writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, he sheds light on himself.
Listen to an excerpt The Ecstasy of Influence

Feel Free

Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work and already-classic essays, Zadie Smith surveys important recent events in culture and politics, as well as her own life.
Listen to an excerpt Feel Free

Other Colors
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Read By: John Lee

Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk has not only produced three decades worth of fiction, but has also produced a lot of nonfiction. This collection features his best nonfiction essays, offering different perspectives on his lifelong obsessions with loneliness, contentment, and the books and cities that have shaped his experience.
Listen to an excerpt Other Colors