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Book awards: The Observer's 100 Greatest Novels of All Time

Book awards by cover

Works (101)

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra1
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan2
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe3
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift4
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding5
Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson6
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne7
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos8
Emma by Jane Austen9
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley10
Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock11
The Black Sheep by Honoré de Balzac12
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal13
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père14
Sybil, or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli15
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens16
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë17
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë18
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray19
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne20
Moby Dick by Herman Melville21
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert22
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins23
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll24
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott25
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope26
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy27
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot28
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky29
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James30
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain31
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson32
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome33
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde34
The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith35
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy36
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers37
The Call of the Wild by Jack London38
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad39
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame40
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust41
The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence42
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford43
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan44
Ulysses by James Joyce45
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf46
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster47
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald48
The Trial by Franz Kafka49
Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway50
Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline51
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner52
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley53
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh54
U.S.A. by John Dos Passos55
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler56
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford57
The Plague by Albert Camus58
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell59
Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett60
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger61
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor62
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White63
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien64
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis65
Lord of the Flies by William Golding66
The Quiet American by Graham Greene67
On the Road by Jack Kerouac68
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov69
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass70
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe71
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark72
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee73
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller74
Herzog by Saul Bellow75
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez76
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor77
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré78
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison79
The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge80
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer81
The Golden Notebook, book 2 by Doris Lessing81
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino82
A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul83
Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee84
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson85
Lanark by Alasdair Gray86
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster87
The BFG by Roald Dahlnot in English Common Knowledge88
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi89
Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis90
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro91
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey92
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera93
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie94
L. A. Confidential by James Ellroy95
Wise Children by Angela Carter96
Atonement by Ian McEwan97
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman98
American Pastoral by Philip Roth99
Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald100

Award description

Original list in The Observer, 12 Oct. 2003.


"If lists are a guilty pleasure, then book lists are a sinful addiction. That's an observation for which the Observer can adduce empirical evidence. Ten years ago, on 12 October 2003, in a headline-grabbing stunt, writing as literary editor, I compiled (with a lot of help from colleagues) a list, provocatively entitled "The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time". Say what you like about lists, but this one rapidly developed a life of its own, like a sci-fi alien. Once the initial furore – why no Updike? How on earth could we exclude PG Wodehouse? – had died down, the creature we had created continued to circulate in cyberspace, sponsoring a rare mixture of rage and delight, apparently without rhyme or reason. Every now and again, some particular group would tangle with the Observer list. And it would drive them mad (in good and bad ways) all over again. For reasons I have yet to fathom, it excited special notice in Australia."

Robert McCrum in The Observer, 22 Sep 2013.


Not to be confused with The Observer's 100 Best Novels started in 2013, which excludes the translations that are such a feature of this 2003 list.


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