Image: Katie Noble
[Katie Noble | Entertainment Editor]
Here’s the deal – the end of Freshers’ is right around the corner and the threat of the university reading list is looming. But if you’re not quite ready to jump in to any serious academic lark, we’ve got a tidy list of gripping campus-based novels to get you in the mood…
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith is undeniably a power-house in British contemporary literature and On Beauty is another genius exemplification of her talents. Howard Belsey is an Englishman abroad in New England, USA. As a busy academic with a slowly failing marriage, Howard is struggling in this new location; surrounded by temptation. As his children are seeking their own passions, Howard falls into an affair that almost certainly will end in disaster. Two families collide in this gorgeous novel, set amongst the backdrop of academia and clashing cultures.
Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov
And back to the classics. You may have heard of Nabokov’s more famous Lolita, but he does have a considerable backlog of other brilliant works. Pnin follows Professor Timothy Pnin, a ‘haplessly disorientated Russian’ working in an American college during the 1950s. We observe as Pnin unfortunately experiences many sad (and slightly comic) misunderstandings during his stint in the USA. Classic Russian literature with a lovable and funny main character, ‘Americana’ setting, and an unreliable narrator? Count us in.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
At number three we have arguably the greatest campus novel ever written. Donna Tartt’s best-known novel, The Secret History is an intense emotional romp following a group of Classics students with a secret (as the name suggests). This particular group of students fall under the influence of an eccentric professor who introduces them to a curious new way of thinking and living. However, things seem to go a little close to the edge and as the students’ concept of morality falls away, an even bigger secret is revealed. If you haven’t read this yet, you really must.
Do you have any favourite campus novels? Let us know @TridentMediaUK