The BBC Arts on Tuesday unveiled its list of the most inspiring novels that have shaped our world, as chosen by a panel of experts that includes writers, curators and critics.
Revealing the English-language list, which will also feature in a BBC Two three-part series Novels That Shaped Our World, BBC Arts director Jonty Claypole said he wanted the list to be “provocative, spark debate and inspire curiosity.” Over the course of months of “enthusiastic debate,” said Claypole, the panel of Radio 4 Front Row presenter and Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell, broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, authors Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal and Alexander McCall Smith, and Bradford Festival Literary Director Syima Aslam had chosen a list “more diverse” than any he’d seen before.
Ranging from modern works such as Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding to classics of literature such as Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, the list has been organized into themed categories, such as identity, adventure and love, sex and romance, life, death and other worlds.
From Pakistan, three authors made the cut. In the category of Crime and Conflict, Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist were featured. While Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire made the list in the category of Politics, Power and Protest.
Other authors from South Asia include Arundhati Roy for her debut novel The God of Small Things, and Khaled Hosseini for his A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Director Claypole said the list included “neglected masterpieces, irresistible romps as well as much-loved classics.”
“Best of all,” he told the BBC, “it is just the start of a year of documentaries, author profiles, podcasts and outreach events all designed to do one thing and inspire everyone, whoever they are, to read more novels because of the proven life-enhancing benefits it brings.”
The wide-ranging list includes graphic novels, children’s classics, and even young adult literature. Some of the popular featured works include Beloved by Toni Morrison; The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye; Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin; The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman and a host of co-artists; V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd; Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens; The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling; The Witches by Roald Dahl; Psmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse.