11 Artfully Interwoven Episodic Tales

These eleven episodic novels do not follow traditional linear storylines, but don't think of them as short story collections either. Read as a whole, these narratives illuminate in their content and structure how we're more connected than we think.
01/02/2016 02:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Certain books redefine the way we think about storytelling. These eleven episodic novels do not follow traditional linear storylines, but don't think of them as short story collections either. Read as a whole, these narratives illuminate in their content and structure how we're more connected than we think.
 

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
At times stern, at times patient, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge is one of literature's most complex characters in recent years. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel offers profound insight into the human condition--its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
 

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Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
In this moving collection of interrelated stories, Ohio-born Sherwood Anderson subtly portrays the inner lives of many of Winesburg's inhabitants. With its deeply moving poetic realism, this slim volume has endured as a classic portrait of American life.

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The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman
In exquisite prose, Alice Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters' lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions.
 

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A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals the pasts of two music industry veterans in this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. With music pulsing on every page, this masterpiece is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
 

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The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro
In this series of interwoven stories, Alice Munro investigates the evolving bond between two wildly different women, a stepmother and stepdaughter, over the course of almost forty years.
 

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Our Kind by Kate Walbert
Kate Walbert masterfully conveys the dreams and reality of a group of women who were once country-club housewives, and are now divorced, independent, and breaking the rules. This brilliant, thought-provoking novel opens a window into the world of a generation of women caught in a cultural limbo.
 

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This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz turns his pen to the haunting, impossible power of love and the story of the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness.
 

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The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
This series of artfully interwoven tales chronicles a community of Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles who work as cleaners, gardeners, and day laborers as they chase the American dream. Eye-opening and deeply human, it illuminates an often hidden segment of American life.
 

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Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
Having survived a life-threatening illness, Kate is challenged by six close friends to go white-water rafting down the Grand Canyon. Though Kate is reluctant, she agrees when each woman says she'll do one thing in the next year that scares her. Their stories interweave to form a seamless portrait of the power of female friendships.
 

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
This wildly creative tale about second chances and alternate histories follows the many lives of one woman who lives her life over and over, instantly returning to where her former life left off each time she dies.
 

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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
In this groundbreaking novel about reality and identity, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for philosophical and scientific speculation.
 

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