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75. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1857)
Emma Bovary rebels against the rules of society and the mediocrity of her marriage — but her quest for more than one kind of satisfaction ends up being her downfall. Flaubert's brave heroine remains an exquisite portrait of a lady.
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73. John le Carré, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963)
Le Carré's classic stands as the finest spy novel of all time. Shocking in its revelation of government amorality in the name of greater good, this highstakes tale of espionage follows Alec Leamas, a marvelously gritty British agent in early Cold War Berlin.
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70. William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)
Groundbreaking seems too confining a word for Gibson's Orwellian novel about a superhacker whose talents play into the plans of a shadowy group of conspirators. A cautionary tale in the form of a kinetic action thriller, it shook and resettled the sci-fi genre.
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69. Martin Amis, Money (1985)
The place to start if you've never read Amis — and the place to return to if you have. Money is a savagely funny novel about a disgusting director, a passel of damaged stars, and the question of whether society is destroying our souls, or vice versa.
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67. Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000)
The fictional tale of two early comics creators whose personal lives mirror that of their character, the Escapist. The novel delves into the founding role Jewish writers had in comics, creating supermen with moral convictions to combat the fascists arising overseas.
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62. Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Huck Finn tends to get written off for its offensive language. That's a mistake: Twain's greatest novel isn't just a rippingly great adventure yarn — one of the best about the American frontier — it's also a profound and important antiracist classic.
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61. Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (1988)
A 50-year-long passion illuminates this sublime story of love in all its forms — unrequited, all-consuming, thwarted, devastating, and insane.
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60. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Hurston's novel is a cornerstone of women's literature, black literature, and American literature as she describes, in vivid country vernacular, the shifting fortunes and love affairs of fortysomething Janie Crawford.
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58. Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (1981)
More than a thousand babies are born near midnight on the first day of India's independence from Britain — and all are endowed with supernatural powers. One of them tells his story, as well as his country's, in this heartrending novel.
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56. William Styron, Sophie's Choice (1979)
Like tiny, exquisite boxes, stories nestle within stories in Styron's masterpiece, a tale of war, madness, and unspeakable cruelty narrated by a young Southern writer who finds himself diving into the psyches of the other occupants of his Brooklyn rooming house.
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54. Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012)
The Iraq war finally gets its great novel. Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn and his squadmates — instant celebrities after prevailing in a firefight — are being paraded around the country on a ''victory tour,'' culminating in an appearance at a Dallas Cowboys game. Fountain refracts the raw reality of the battlefield through a gauzy filter of football and Hollywood.
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53. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind (1936)
In the only novel she ever wrote, Mitchell introduced us to Clayton County, Ga., a genteel cotton-plantation society about to get eaten up by the Civil War. She also gave us the grand house Tara, not to mention mercurial Scarlett O'Hara and dashing Rhett Butler.
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