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15 Morbidly Depressing Novels

Scientists agree: this is the most depressing time of the year. Now is the time to hunker down with a soul-destroying novel. To follow is a list of the fifteen most depressing novels ever written, as determined in a scientific survey of my Facebook friends.

  • The Apes of God by Wyndam Lewis: A simpleton is mocked by the Bloomsbury Group.
  • Cruddy by Lynda Barry: An ugly girl takes a road trip with her monstrous father and eventually kills herself.
  • Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys: A morose, drunk, middle-aged English woman stumbles aimlessly around Paris.
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy: A stonemason rebukes marriage, sires a murderer, goes mad, and dies alone.
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.: A young prostitute rolls sailors, gets gang-raped.
  • Lithium for Madea by Kate Braverman: A miserable wife tries affairs, then cocaine.
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov: A grandiose pedo finds and loses perfect love.
  • Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West: A drunk newspaperman writes an advice column and beds the wife of a cripple, who shoots him.
  • The Painted Bird by Jerry Kosinski: A boy escapes the Holocaust, witnesses inhumanity, indulges in deviance, and is reunited with his parents.
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates: A bored suburban couple dreams of moving to Paris, drinks instead.
  • The Surrendered by Chang Rae Lee: Refugees lose limbs, get raped, withstand torture, endure hunger; one lives.
  • Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante: A  middle-aged woman returns to Naples to determine who drowned her downtrodden mother.
  • The Tunnel by William Gass: A self-pitying historian digs a tunnel, sleeps with his students, and kills his wife’s cat.
  • The Unnameable by Samuel Beckett: A limbless trunk weeps under a tarpaulin.
  • The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas:  An hysterical opera singer seeks treatment only to die in the Holocaust.  
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  • Jenna S. said:

    I'd add "1984" to this list. I can't think of a denouement that left me feeling more completely depressed.

    January 18, 2011 6:32 PM

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15 Morbidly Depressing Novels
Boston Phoenix
15 Morbidly Depressing Novels
Published 1/18/2011 by Eugenia Williamson
Scientists agree: this is the most depressing time of the year. Now is the time to hunker down with a soul-destroying novel. To follow is...

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