Books that made their authors famous posthumously

Not every author, while they are alive, receive the glory and recognition that their work deserves. But, words also transcend death itself. These are the books that transcended death for their writers.
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A Confederacy of Dunces

by John Kennedy Toole

About the book:  Released by Louisiana State University Press in April 1980, A Confederacy of Dunces is nothing short of a publishing phenomenon. Turned down by countless publishers and submitted by the author's mother years after his suicide, the book won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Today, there are over 1,500,000 copies in print worldwide in eighteen languages. Set in New Orleans, A Confederacy of Dunces outswifts Swift, one of whose essays gives the book its title. As its characters burst into life, they leave the region and literature forever changed by their presences - Ignatius and his mother; Miss Trixie, the octogenarian assistant accountant at Levy Pants; inept, wan Patrolman Mancuso; Darlene, the Bourbon Street stripper with a penchant for poultry; Jones, the jivecat in space-age dark glasses. Satire and farce animate A Confederacy of Dunces; tragic awareness ennobles it. Louisiana State University Press celebrates A Confederacy of Dunces' twentieth year with this anniversary edition, which includes a new introduction by Andrei Codrescu that examines the relationship of this modern-day classic to the city whose pulse it so brilliantly captures.

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The Diary of a Young Girl

by Anne Frank

About the book:  The Diary of a Young Girl started two days before Anne Frank's thirteenth birthday. In 1942, the Nazis had occupied Holland, and her family left their home to go into hiding, as they were Jews. Anne Frank recorded daily events, her personal experiences and her feelings in her diary for the next two years. Cut off from the outside world, she and her family faced hunger, boredom, claustrophobia at living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. One day, she and her family were betrayed and taken away to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she eventually died. It is a record of a sensitive girl's tragic experience during one of the worst periods in human history. This diary is so powerful that it leaves a deep impact on the mind of its readers.

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The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

About the book:  The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under--maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experiece as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

by Stieg Larsson

About the book:  “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a striking novel. Just when I was thinking there wasn't anything new on the horizon, along comes Stieg Larsson with this wonderfully unique story. I was completely absorbed.” —Michael Connelly "I doubt you will read a better book this year.” —Val McDermid Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone from her own deeply dysfunctional family. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to investigate, but he quickly finds himself in over his head. He hires a competent assistant: the gifted and conscience-free computer specialist Lisbeth Salander, and the two unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

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You Can't Go Home Again

by Thomas Wolfe

About the book:  Now available from Thomas Wolfe’s original publisher, the final novel by the literary legend, that “will stand apart from everything else that he wrote” (The New York Times Book Review)—first published in 1940 and long considered a classic of twentieth century literature. A twentieth-century classic, Thomas Wolfe’s magnificent novel is both the story of a young writer longing to make his mark upon the world and a sweeping portrait of America and Europe from the Great Depression through the years leading up to World War II. Driven by dreams of literary success, George Webber has left his provincial hometown to make his name as a writer in New York City. When his first novel is published, it brings him the fame he has sought, but it also brings the censure of his neighbors back home, who are outraged by his depiction of them. Unsettled by their reaction and unsure of himself and his future, Webber begins a search for a greater understanding of his artistic identity that takes him deep into New York’s hectic social whirl; to London with an uninhibited group of expatriates; and to Berlin, lying cold and sinister under Hitler’s shadow. He discovers a world plagued by political uncertainty and on the brink of transformation, yet he finds within himself the capacity to meet it with optimism and a renewed love for his birthplace. He is a changed man yet a hopeful one, awake to the knowledge that one can never fully “go back home to your family, back home to your childhood…away from all the strife and conflict of the world…back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.”

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Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition

by Ernest Hemingway

About the book:  Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. Since Hemingway's personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined and debated the changes made to the text before publication. Now this new special restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published. Featuring a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's sole surviving son, and an introduction by the editor and grandson of the author, Seán Hemingway, this new edition also includes a number of unfinished, never-before-published Paris sketches revealing experiences that Hemingway had with his son Jack and his first wife, Hadley. Also included are irreverent portraits of other luminaries, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ford Madox Ford, and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. Sure to excite critics and readers alike, the restored edition of A Moveable Feast brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

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A Death in the Family

by James Agee

About the book:  Forty years after its original publication, James Agee's last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. For in his lyrical, sorrowful account of a man's death and its impact on his family, Agee painstakingly created a small world of domestic happiness and then showed how quickly and casually it could be destroyed. On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly. Dancing back and forth in time and braiding the viewpoints of Jay's wife, brother, and young son, Rufus, Agee creates an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss that should be read aloud for the sheer music of its prose. "An utterly individual and original book...one of the most deeply worked out expressions of human feeling that I have ever read."--Alfred Kazin, New York Times Book Review "It is, in the full sense, poetry....The language of the book, at once luminous and discreet...remains in the mind."--New Republic "People I know who read A Death in the Family forty years ago still talk about it. So do I. It is a great book, and I'm happy to see it done anew."--Andre Dubus, author of Dancing After Hours and Meditations From A Moveable Chair

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The Master and Margarita

by Mikhail Bulgakov

About the book:  "I fell in love with it. . . . I reread it often . . . for me it's one of those magical books that hits you with something new every time." —Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife Suppressed in the Soviet Union for twenty-six years, Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece is an ironic parable of power and its corruption, good and evil, and human frailty and the strength of love. Featuring Satan, accompanied by a retinue that includes the large, fast-talking, vodka drinking black tom cat Behemoth, the beautiful Margarita, her beloved—a distraught writer known only as the Master—Pontius Pilate, and Jesus Christ, The Master and Margarita combines fable, fantasy, political satire, and slapstick comedy into a wildly entertaining and unforgettable tale that is commonly considered one of the greatest novels ever to come out of the Soviet Union.

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Suite Francaise

by Irene Nemirovsky

About the book:  Transcendent, astonishing, Suite Française, which might be the last great fiction of the war, provides us with an intimate recounting of occupation, exodus, and loss. Its staggering power is that it affirms the idea that art can offer a path to salvation.

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The Trial

by Franz Kafka

About the book:  The Trial is a novel written by Franz Kafka from 1914 to 1915 and published in 1925. One of his best-known works, it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. Heavily influenced by Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, Kafka even went so far as to call Dostoevsky a blood relative. Like Kafka's other novels, The Trial was never completed, although it does include a chapter which brings the story to an end. After Kafka's death in 1924 his friend and literary executor Max Brod edited the text for publication by Verlag Die Schmiede. The original manuscript is held at the Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar, Germany. The first English language translation, by Willa and Edwin Muir, was published in 1937. In 1999, the book was listed in Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century and as No. 2 of the Best German Novels of the Twentieth Century.

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