1. Ice by Anna Kavan
Kavan creates a world that is the stuff of nightmares, blending reality, dreams, and fantasy in an uncanny, unsettling way. Kavan certainly deserves a much wider audience.
2. Zazen by Vanessa Veselka
A truly prescient novel that taps into many political, social, and personal anxieties prevalent in America today. Veselka’s prose is raw, unflinching, poetic: Zazen is a truly remarkable debut novel. Veselka has said that Zazen arose from her inability to process the 2004 school hostage crisis in Beslan; as an analysis of our culture of violence, her novel is eerily relevant and a necessary read in the wake of the recent Newtown, CT tragedy.
3. Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
A maddening, prophetic book: Krasznahorkai is a master at plumbing the depths of humanity as well as despair. See my review of Satantango in the LARB: http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=738
4. The Walk by Robert Walser
W. G. Sebald called Walser “a clairvoyant of the small,” and The Walk is a tremendous, wide-ranging meditation on life in microcosmic scenes.
5. The Plains by Gerald Murnane
Both ars poetica and an analysis of cultural identity, Murnane’s The Plains is perhaps the best place to begin with this enigmatic and often elusive author.