Intellectual Fiction

Fictional reads for your intellectual appetite.

  • The Critics’ Take

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  • 151 Reviews
    • The Narrow Road to the Deep North

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Readers interested in historical fiction set in a Japanese POW . Lovers of forbidden love stories. Fans of fiction that jumps between the past and the present in Australia.


    • The History of Love

        Book Dumpling Recommends For: Fans of strong, smart writing. Readers interested in an intellectual novel about an old man reminiscing about his greatest love, a woman who inspired a book he thinks is lost forever. Fans of novels that touch the heart without the cheese.


    • Homegoing

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Lovers of international fiction. Readers looking for a sweeping epic that follows the descendants of two half-sisters in Ghana, whose lives take vastly different turns. Anyone interested in African culture and history.


    • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Lovers of graphic novel memoirs Readers who enjoy the true story of a father’s death soon after he comes out of the closet. Anyone wondering what it would be like to grow up in a funeral home.


    • The Girls

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Readers looking for strong writing that delivers a poignant coming-of-age story set in 1969. Anyone interested in the horrific murders committed by Charles Manson's followers, and what could have led young, American teen girls to partake in them. Lovers of disturbing-yet-insightful intellectual fiction that examines the...


    • Fifteen Dogs

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Lovers of parables and allegorical fiction Readers interested in what happens when fifteen dogs are granted human intelligence Fans of clever, thought-provoking literature


    • The Year of the Runaways

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Lovers of Indian immigrant fiction. Readers interested in the past lives of four major characters who then meet up in the present. Anyone wondering what it's like to come to England illegally.


    • A Little Life

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Readers looking for a story of four college friends moving to New York City. Lovers of disturbing, intellectual fiction. Anyone interested in the life of an up-and-coming artist in the city.


    • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Fans of investigative journalism that meets medical mystery. Those interested in a memoir, written by a 24-year-old New York Post reporter, and her descent into psychosis. Anyone looking for a page-turning read that investigates a rare medical condition.


    • Three Day Road

      Book Dumpling Recommends For: Lovers of historical fiction or Native Canadian stories circa World War 1. Readers interested in a story about a woman living off the land and a young man scarred by war. Anyone looking for a touching page-turner about family bonds, nature conservation, and indigenous issues.


    • All Our Names

      Told between Helen, a white social worker in America, and a would-be writer from Ethiopia, living in Uganda and then the U.S., the narrative explores best friends who drift apart during The African Revolution, interracial relationships and what it’s like to be an immigrant in the U.S. Among other storylines....


    • The Unamericans: Stories

      In this beautiful collection exploring the intersection between Old and New worlds, Antopol jumps between Israel and the States, with characters who come from Moscow, Kiev, Prague and more. Perfect for: Lovers of intellectual, short fiction. Book clubs looking for much fodder for discussion. Fans of globe-trotting stories that cover...


    • The Bone Clocks

      1984: Holly Sykes lives in England. After a disagreement with her mother, she runs away from home left with only the voices in her head as company. As Holly closes the door, the narrative switches to other characters, all moving forward through time, all of whom lead us further into...


    • Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1)

      Humanity has succumbed to a plague. Genetically engineered perfection surrounds Snowman (formerly Jimmy) in the form of Children of Crake. Through his recollections, we learn about the demise of humanity, the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the love they both shared for Oryx. We travel with him through...


    • Family Life

      An Indian family moves to the States. Tragedy (and some hilarity) ensues. Read more here. Perfect for: Lovers of immigrant fiction centred on an Indian family. Fans of books with a troubled teen as protagonist. Readers of lyrical, page-turning fiction that is accessible-yet-complex.


    • Fourth of July Creek

      Pete Snow is a social worker in a small town in Montana. When he tries to help 11-year-old Benjamin Pearl, a young boy with a religious fanatic for a father, he gets pulled into an F.B.I. investigation. A gorgeous story about a broken man trying to help broken children, including...


    • Redeployment

      In this stunning collection of short stories, Phil Klay (veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps) offers a heart-stopping look into the realities of the war in Iraq and the difficulties for everyone involved. Perfect for: • Those interested in gaining a new perspective on the war in Iraq. • Lovers...


    • My Brilliant Friend (L’amica geniale #1)

      In this first in this much-lauded trilogy, Elena, now an older woman, recounts her tormented-yet-essential friendship with the captivating Lila Cerullo. She takes us back (with raw, beautiful prose) to their tough neighbourhood in Naples and traces the beginning of their arduous attachment up until their late teens. Perfect for:...


    • The Martian

      Astronaut Mark Watney is on Mars. The problem? He’s been stranded there for six days and has no contact with earth. In this gripping, clever tour de force, Weir brings us into a lonely world in which Mark must use his ingenuity before giving up completely. Perfect for: Lovers of...


    • White Teeth

      Smith’s wit and lyrical mastery is on display in this gorgeous narrative of two families living in North London during the years approaching the millennium. Spanning three generations, the novel surveys Samad and Archie’s friendship through issues of identity, gender, and race, while exploring the importance of both genetics and...


    • The Golem and the Jinni

      In this whirlwind, fantastical story, Chava (a Golem from Jewish mysticism) and Ahmad (a Jinni from Arab folklore) are stranded, separately, in turn-of-the-century New York City. The ensuing story is too delicious to put here. You know if you’re interested in this kind of book. And if you are, just...


    • The Round House

      In her trademark, gorgeous prose, Erdrich introduces us to Geraldine Coutts, a member of an Ojibwe reservation in South Dakota. After experiencing a brutal attack, Coutts evades everyone from the police to her husband to her son as they all try and piece together what happened on that day back...


    • The Yellow Birds

      An emotional account of friendship during times of war, Powers delivers a gripping story of two soldiers (eighteen-year-old, Private Murphy, and twenty-one-year-old, Private Bartle) fighting in Iraq. To say more would ruin this powerful narrative of war and its horrific consequences on the human psyche. Perfect for:  Lovers of intellectually-written...


    • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

      In this bone-chilling novel of war and endurance, 8-year-old Havaa lives in a small town in Chechnya. After the disappearance of her father, she travels with her neighbour, Akhmed, to the hospital where they meet Sonja, the remaining doctor in a world obliterated by cruelty and violence. These three characters,...


    • Coming up For Air

      George “Fatty” Bowling, a middle-aged, English insurance salesman, uses his winnings from the racetrack for a nostalgic trip. Bowling reminisces about his childhood, but, upon returning to his hometown, he’s disappointed by its transformation. Set right before WWII, the dreadful anticipation of the war looms large. Written in a conversational...


    • A Single Man

      Wise and full of insight on the human condition, this novella contemplates the experience of loss from the perspective of an outsider: George is a British gay man living in 1960s California. We follow him through one day in his life after the sudden death of his partner. Perfect for:...


    • Annabel

      An intersex baby is born in rural Labrador in 1968. Raised as a boy (Wayne) his female side (Annabel) aches to break free. This quiet, gorgeous novel will change how you think about identity, gender constructs, and judgment. Perfect for: Those who like subtle, beautifully-written novels. Fans of Canada’s Giller...


    • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

      Two very different magicians attempt to revive English magic during the Napoleonic wars. The scholarly and cautious, Mr. Strange, takes on the flashier, Mr. Norrell, as a pupil, but the two are too combative to get along. With a leisurely pace and a discursive style (yes, there are footnotes) –...


    • Inherent Vice

      If you like the idea of a sort-of-noir story about a pot-smoking, private investigator in the hippy trippy Los Angeles of (around) 1970, then this is your book. Perfect for: Fans of the psychedelic era. Readers of unconventional mysteries. Anyone who enjoys a counterculture, detective story.


    • Dear Committee Members

      This is one for the English aficionados: Jay Fitger, formerly acclaimed writer, is an overworked professor of creative writing, now suffering the indignities of his English Department’s setbacks. Told entirely through brilliant letters of recommendation, Fitger exposes the oddities, absurdities and, ultimately, precious nuggets of the world of academia. Perfect...