Novels of millennial ennui

You’ve read Normal People, you’ve marvelled at its distillation of the millennial experience, and now you want more. These books are all perfect encapsulations of being ‘this age’.

No One is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood

No One is Talking About This is like no book we have ever read and is (genuinely) laugh-out-loud hilarious as well as quite serious. Also probably the most accurate representation of the experience of being on the internet that has been rendered in fiction.

The New Me, by Halle Butler

If you enjoyed My Year of Rest and Relaxation, this one is for you. If you haven’t read My Year of Rest and Relaxation, why not read both? The New Me is a dry and darkly comic novel for the “precariat”: 20- and 30-somethings with little to no job security. Millie, an eternal temp worker, is both dissatisfied with moving from job to job and also not particularly keen on “the endless abyss of perm”.

Luster, by Raven Leilani

Painfully true and funny dissection of what it is to be a black woman in this day and age. This is no ordinary romcom, this is a bitter and sardonic portrait of modern relationships gone terribly wrong, all written in the most gorgeously careworn style that perfectly and savagely hits all targets.

Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

The sheer amount of heart-clenchingly awkward confrontations in this book is stunning – each microaggression, each faltering attempt at allyship, each painful explanation of why each character didn’t mean it to sound like that… it’s exhausting, but brilliant. A perfectly accessible way into some of the thorniest societal problems we’re currently encountering.

Boy Parts, by Eliza Clarke

In a more just world, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho would have been erased from the catalogue simultaneously with the publication of this remarkable and affronting debut about a young woman who’s compulsion for photographing unremarkable men sets her on a destructive path.

Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams

So much more than ‘the black Bridget Jones’, as it was so often described on its release – breezy and approachable but deft in its handling of some very modern problems, CCW’s debut novel is a classic in the making.

little scratch, by Rebeca Watson

Written in a tumbling stream of consciousness that literally spills acros the page, little scratch will retrain your brain to read backwards and simultaneously, while simultaneously relaying its tale of modern sexual trauma in lucid, frank and daringly, darkly funny prose. Anyone who’s worked in an office will redden at the cheeks.

Real Life, by Brandon Taylor

Luxuriously written deep-dive into one man’s weekend as he deals with multiple pains and traumas: racial microaggressions, sexual confusions, professional misdemeanours, personal failures – all rendered with truth, sympathy and a necessary quiet rage.

The Idiot, by Elif Batuman

Rarely have we read a more accurate depiction of the crippling ennui of being ‘that age’, when relationships are so desperately difficult that it can paralyse your brain, debilitate your emotions and generally turn you into a confusing mess of a person. This deadpan and hilarious campus novel has an undercurrent of melancholy so specific it slightly hurts.

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