A good couple of books to start this post are two Damon Runyon collections. As I wrote previously, Runyon was “best known for his short stories celebrating the world of Broadway in New York City that grew out of the Prohibition era. To New Yorkers of his generation, a "Damon Runyon character" evoked a distinctive social type from the Brooklyn or Midtown demi-monde.”
His style is very individual and he is very quotable, for instance this one:
“I came to the conclusion long ago that all life is six to five against.”
Baltasar and Blimunda by Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago is a magic realist historical novel set in the 18th Century. It is many years since I have it, but I recall being charmed by the story at the time it was purchased.
And now for something completely different, not fiction at all, but Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth – a chilling description of the consequences of nuclear war. The cover is understandably stark and bleak.
On a lighter note The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin and The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, by Persian writer Idries Shah, are humorous collections of folklore, featuring Nasrudin, “a fictional legendary satirical Sufi figure who is believed by some to have existed during the Middle Ages (around 13th century), in Akşehir, and later in Konya, under the Seljuq rule. Nasreddin was a populist philosopher and wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.” - from Wikipedia.
Finally, for this entry, a multi-generational mystery by American writer Lee Smith, Family Linen.
The final Picador post will feature various ‘T’ to ‘Z’ authors including Emma Tennant, D M Thomas, Sigrid Undset and Monique Wittig.