In one of my recent posts, I grappled with the question what makes a classic and I thought that this week’s prompt of classic remarks hosted by the brilliant creators of PagesUnbound is a perfect extension to the discussion. The prompt is: What is a contemporary book you think might become a classic? Or should become a classic? I think this is a super interesting question and for my part, I didn’t have to think long about my answers. Without further ado, here are my top 3 future classics:
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985)
Margaret Atwood is an amazingly talented writer and I could probably write an entire post on works by Atwood that’ll become future classics. But if I had to pick one, it’d be The Handmaid’s Tale. This book has everything a good classic needs: it’s compelling, beautifully written and thought-provoking. It has you glued to the pages from the very beginning. You’re thrown into this dystopian world without explanations for a very important reason: We’re already familiar with the world of the story. In fact, Atwood herself is always keen to insist that what she’s writing is “speculative fiction” because everything she writes did or could happen. This is what makes the story both fascinating and terrifying. It asks you to consider what direction our world is heading towards. Are we moving towards or away from becoming Gilead? I guess only time will tell. To quote from The Testaments: ‘In times like ours there are only two directions: up or plummet.’ If this book doesn’t stand the test of time then I don’t know which one does.
Life of Pi (Yann Martel, 2001)
Life of Pi is a compelling story about a boy who survives more than 200 days on a small lifeboat in the open ocean … with a 350 pound Bengal tiger. Admittedly, the scenario sounds absurd, but Yann Martel manages to make you believe in his story. We come to laugh, cry and despair with Pi and his hairy companion as if we were ourselves on that very lifeboat. Besides being brilliantly written, the story also confronts us with essential questions. What do we really need in life? Are we, as humans, really superior to animals or do humans sometimes behave as animals as well? These are universal questions that never cease to be important, making this book a true classic.
Exit West (Mohsin Hamid, 2017)
Exit West is a story filled with poignant social commentary, but it’s also a remarkable story about universal themes, such as love, loss, courage and lasting friendship. It tells the story of two migrants who leave everything behind in search of a safe haven in the West. Hamid reminds us that somehow “we are all migrants through time,” that although we might not physically move places, everything around us constantly changes. Our world is going to become more and more globalized and so our environment will inevitably change. This is an issue that continues to be relevant and so I’m sure that this book will stand the test of time.
What do you think of my list? What books do you think will become future classics? Let me know in the comment section below!