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!

32 thoughts on “Books That May Become Future Classics

  1. I only read Atwood’s story from your list and I agree that it has high chances to become a classic for future generations. Another writer that I think might become a classic is Haruki Murakami and his 1Q84 masterpiece (also one my favourite books of all times) 🙂

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      1. He writes mostly stories in the realm of magical realism, and I think it’s the kind of author that you either like it or not 🙂 If you want to try reading one of his books, I recommend shorter books first (eg. Kafka on the Shore, The Wild Sheep Chase). Hope you’ll enjoy it!

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  2. I certainly agree with ‘Handmaid’ – possibly already at classic status? It’s aimed at children, but I’d add ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’. Amazing book and quite rightly has been adapted for stage. I think it will be appreciated for many, many years.

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  3. I would would, or maybe argue? that A Handmaid’s tale is already considered a modern classic. It’s starting to be taught in schools, and considered in the AP literature curriculum, so I think that one is already well on its way lol. I do also agree with you about Life of Pi (even if I didn’t’ enjoy it lol)

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    1. Yes you’re right, I think some publishers have also marketed it as a ‘modern classic’ already. So with readers, publishers and educational institutions supporting it I’m sure that it’ll stand the test of time.
      I totally get why not everyone might like Life of Pi. I also felt it was rather slow-moving at some points, especially in the second part, but theme-wise it’s definitely a candidate for a future classic 🙂

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  4. Definitely The Handmaiden’s Tale, that was really unnerving yet powerful.
    And I have heard loads about The Life of Pi, will be adding it to my TBR! Looking forward to a weird plot with deep themes. 😊

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  5. the handmaiden’s tale and life of pi are definitely on their way to become classics, if they aren’t considered as them already!! i havent heard of exit west though, and it sounds pretty interesting, so i think i might give it a shot sometime soon!! great post, linda!!

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