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Fiction in the First Person

Time's Arrow
Martin Amis (also on audiocassette)
This novel is told not only in the first person but also backwards, as the deathbed-to-womb story of an Auschwitz doctor hiding in America. Readers will find themselves challenged by this sophisticated experiment in narrative technique.

Flanders: A Novel
Patricia Anthony
Anthony, best known for her powerfully original science fiction and speculative fantasy, gives us a World War I novel with just an edge of the supernatural. A young American describes the squalor, horror, and spiritual exhaustion of life in the trenches in letters home to his younger brother in Texas.

The Hiding Place
Trezza Azzopardi
Dol was the youngest of an impoverished, Maltese immigrant family in Cardiff, Wales, in the early 1960s. Fostered out at an early age, she is only now reconstructing her childhood memories. A stunning - and heartbreaking - example of the first-person novel with a child narrator.

Dirty Tricks
Michael Dibdin
The wonderfully nasty narrator of this confessional satire has just returned to Thatcher's England after years abroad. He's miffed to find that English society no longer has much use for threadbare academics like him. So if a little deviousness, a little crime, can get him the money and status he's sure he deserves - well, why not?

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
Jim Fergus
Fergus creates a historical event that might have happened. In 1854, a Cheyenne chief asked for one thousand white women as brides for his warriors, in order to promote peace between their peoples. The women's imagined westward journey and the tragic results of this never-made experiment are told through the journal of one of the women.

A Landing on the Sun
Michael Frayn
Novelist and dramatist Michael Frayn is a master of the first-person narrative, and this is one of his most dazzling experiments. Story within story within story is told in the first person as a minor British civil servant gathers memos, tapes, and reports to investigate the unexplained death of another bureaucrat.

Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
This classic science fiction story is told by Charlie, a man with an IQ of 68. An experimental drug is administered to him to increase his intelligence. His journal records the change as he eventually surpasses the scientists who have altered him, and as he faces the certainty that the improvement is only temporary.

Motherless Brooklyn
Jonathan Lethem
An orphan with Tourette's syndrome, Lionel Essrog was recruited by minor hoodlum Frank Minna; now, as an adult, he's investigating Minna's murder. Lethem reimagines the noir novel with an unforgettable narrator in this bravura linguistic depiction of a Tourettic consciousness.

Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter
J. Nozipo Maraire
Maraire, who herself is from Zimbabwe and is Harvard-educated, writes this first novel in the form of letters from a Zimbabwean mother to her daughter who has just gone off to Harvard. The letters shine, both with their humorous details of a family story and with their impassioned plea to the exiled young not to forget Zimbabwe and its struggle for independence.

An Instance of the Fingerpost
Iain Pears (also in large print)
Pears' massive, erudite novel is set in seventeenth-century England in the turbulent days of Charles II's restoration. Four different men tell the story of the death of an Oxford theologian, but only one of the accounts can be true. Pears constructs a hypnotically complex mystery through this experiment in narrative point of view.

The PowerBook
Jeanette Winterson
Here's a first-person narrative for the new millennium. An e-mail writer spins multiple identities for herself and those who choose to become caught up in her stories. Fictional and virtual identities multiply in this inventive, strange, and sensual tale about the freedom - and cost - of pretending to be someone else.