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Dear Life by Alice Munro
There’s a reason Cynthia Ozick called her “our Chekhov.” No one excavates the inner lives of their characters the way she does. An entire novel is contained in each of these stories.
The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
In case Flannery O’Connor and Martin Amis haven’t convinced you that first-rate fiction doesn’t require likable characters, read Edward St. Aubyn, whose Patrick Melrose Novels—the first four collected in a single volume, to accompany the publishing of the fifth, At Last—feature not a likable character in the bunch. The books are brilliant.