World Book Day, first observed on April 23, 1995, aims to honour and venerate great writers such as William Shakespeare, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and Miguel Cervantes. As a homage to the three literary titans who died on this day, UNESCO commemorates World Book Day on April 23.
Every year on April 23, World Book Day is observed to instill the habit of reading books and to develop writing, translating, and publishing abilities.
Also Read | World Book Day 2022: History and Significance
To celebrate this occasion, here are some of the best novels of the 21st century for all the bibliophiles out there.
1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), by Junot Díaz
Junot Díaz narrates the tale of Oscar, a Dominican-American boy enamoured with science fiction, fantasy, and finding love, whose family is afflicted by a generational curse. This is only the second novel by a Latino author to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. This novel by Junot Díaz expands on a short story initially published in the New Yorker about Oscar Wao, a lonely, overweight Dominican who lived in New Jersey and fell madly in love with a woman who never reciprocated his sentiments. It also tells the stories of Oscar’s sister, mother, and grandfather, who, by defying the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, wreaked havoc on the family’s future generations.
2. The Known World (2003), by Edward P. Jones
In the novel The Known World, Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave, falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Townsend handles his business with exceptional enthusiasm, ensuring he never breaks the law. When he dies suddenly, Caldonia, his widow, is unable to keep the estate in order, and chaos follows. Jones has turned a historical footnote into an epic that examines slavery in all of its moral intricacies. The Known World, a bold and ambitious work by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones, is one of the most critically lauded books in recent memory.
Also Read | Earth Day 2022: 5 ways to celebrate this day
3. Wolf Hall (2009), by Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel is the author of several best-selling novels, including Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Wolf Hall is situated in the 1520s in England. If the king dies without a male successor at that time, the country may be on the verge of civil war. The plot revolves around Henry VIII, who wishes to terminate his twenty-year marriage and marry Anne Boleyn. He is opposed by the Pope and the majority of Europe. But Henry is fickle: one day he’ll be gentle, the next he’ll be murderous. In this perfect read, Thomas Cromwell bewitcher and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, helps Henry break the opposition.
4. Gilead (2004), by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead is a long-awaited second novel by one of our best writers Marilynne Robinson. Reverend Ames is the central character in Gilead.
Reverend John Ames begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forefathers, in 1956, near the end of his life. Ames is the son of an Iowa preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to fight for abolition. He became a chaplain in the Union Army at the age of fifty, losing his right eye in battle.
Reverend Ames writes to his son about the conflict between his father, a devout pacifist, and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody clothing, hidden behind an army blanket, may be relics of the war between abolitionists. In 1956, near the end of his life, the Reverend wanted Kansas to join the union as a slave state. And he narrates a story about the sacred relationships between fathers and sons, which are put to the test in his own tender and tense relationship with his namesake, his best friend’s wayward son, John Ames Boughton.
Also Read | Earth Day 2022: Google doodle shows climate change impact on earth
5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012), by Ben Fountain
Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk is a biting comedy set in Texas during America’s Iraq war. It investigates the chasm that exists between the realities of the war at home and the war overseas.
The surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad are followed through one gruelling stop on their media-intensive “Victory Tour” at Texas Stadium, the football paradise of the Dallas Cowboys, their fans, promoters, and cheerleaders in Ben Fountain’s stunning debut novel. The National Work Critics Circle Award was given to this book.