6 Best Postmodern Novels [2023]

If you are excited and intrigued by the fragmentation, paradoxes and unreliable narrators of postmodern literature, then you’ll love our top ten list. Not only do all the novels in our list feature challenging ideas, they weave these themes around exciting and humorous tales.

Here we take a look at the top six best postmodern novels and review the best three.

Things to Consider

When you’re considering a postmodern novel for your next book purchase you should consider these common themes.

  • Irony. This is one of the most recognizable aspects of postmodern literature and a key component to making these novels interesting and unique. Some readers call this sort of humor ‘black humor’ for it’s often dark nature.
  • Intertextuality. This centers around the idea that individual works are not isolated. This may appear as a fictional story that draws characters or tells a different side of the story to other well-known novels, often fairy tales.
  • Pastiche. This refers to ‘pasting’ together different ideas and elements from other novels into a new story. Like intertextuality, this technique aims to combine different genres and situations into unique stories.

Top 6 Postmodern Novels Comparison

Picture Name Storyline Price Rating (1-5)
1. Cat’s Cradle: A Novel Satirical commentary on modern man $
  • 4.3/5
2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel Detective story, disintegrating marriage and uncovering WWII secrets $$
  • 4.2/5
3. Breakfast of Champions: A Novel Satirical view of war, sex, racism, success and politics $$
  • 4.2/5
4. Player Piano: A Novel An engineer must learn to live in a world dominated by supercomputers $
  • 4.2/5
5. Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) Search for meaning. $
  • 4.2/5
6. The White Castle: A Novel Historical fiction outlining the identity and relationships between east and west. $$
  • 3.6/5

Buying Information

Buying the best postmodern novels requires learning a little about what makes them special to readers. We’ve already discussed some of the primary elements that authors use to create postmodern works, and here we delve even deeper.

  • Metafiction. This is a slightly complicated technique whereby authors deliberately challenge the idea of themes. The author might challenge the fictionality of a fictional character or event. In general, the author willingly suspends the reader’s disbelief.
  • Magic Realism. Is used to make fictional and seemingly unreal events more lifelike and challenge your opinions of what’s real and what’s made up. Authors who focus on these techniques have stories that range from the fantastic to the bizarre.
  • Paranoia. Is a common theme amongst postmodern novels. The authors weave in a belief that there is a controlling power behind the chaos of the world. Paranoia often walks the line between delusion and insight.

Top 3 Best Postmodern Novels Reviews

1. Cat’s Cradle: A Novel

Cat’s Cradle: A Novel

By far the most Vonnegut novel we’ve even come across. Blending the author’s wry sense of humor with acute social insights in an absurd but wonderful fantasy world. This novel tells an exceptional story of love, lies and the self-destruction of mankind.

Centering around the narrator, Jonah, who begins writing his story from the first day an atomic bomb hit Japan. Through a series of adventures, our lead character finds himself on an impoverished island where he becomes president. He also finds religion and falls in love, this by itself makes for an entertaining novel. Yet, Cat’s Cradle shines with brilliantly insightful views on religion, politics and science – the key institutions that society relies on.

Cat’s Cradle is one of the most absurd and frightening novels you’ll ever read.

2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

This is one novel where it is best not to know anything about the story line in advance. It is not a book that a reader can simply rationalize and explain in a few sentences; it is much deeper than that and such analysis would only take away from the experience.

Reading through this novel is like figuring out how to fold a delicate and intricate origami crane for the first time. From the beginning, you have so many questions and so few answers, with few means of obtaining them. Yet, you persist and slowly but surely everything begins to unfold in front of you. That’s exactly what the mysteries of this novel do as you read through it.

This magical book explores ideas like actions having deeper meanings, discovering the mysterious nature of life and questioning how well we can ever understand other people. The sheer depth of questions this novel raises and begs you to answer for yourself is profound, as is this novel’s text.

3. Breakfast of Champions: A Novel

Breakfast of Champions: A Novel

Following on from other oddball novels that this author has written, Breakfast of Champions explores childhood melancholy through to the sleazy city life of New York City. We loved how many of the pages were filled with Vonnegurt’s own quirky illustrations.

This novel is sometimes harsh, often cruel but at times tender and compassionate. There is a range of emotions that make you laugh-out-loud on one page and then tear up on another. For a highly entertaining and perhaps tragic narrative of modern life, this is a one of a kind novel. It’s one of the best postmodern novels we’ve ever read.