10 Works of Transgressive Fiction

This week’s post is devoted to ten works of Transgressive Fiction by ten different authors. Click on the links to read the reviews.

Definition: Transgressive Fiction is a genre that focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual and/or illicit ways.

The following books are presented in chronological order:


Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

Tropic of Cancer

About: Sexuality, freedom and the human condition are themes in this groundbreaking semi-autobiographical account.

My Review: Set in the late 1920s and early 30s, Tropic of Cancer is a semi-autobiographical first-person account of a young, struggling American writer living in Paris, and for a short period Le Havre. His is a seedy existence, characterised by a shortage of money…(more)


Novel with Cocaine by M. Ageyev (1934)

Novel with Cocaine

About: Novel with Cocaine is a nihilistic and philosophical novel about adolescence and addiction that could be described as Dostoyevskian.

My Review: Set in the years immediately before and after the Russian Revolution, Novel with Cocaine follows the life of Vadim, a Moscow adolescent and student. Vadim is prone to self-loathing and disdainful of others, none more so than his mother, whose…(more)


Junky by William S. Burroughs (1953)

About: Junky is a record of its protagonist’s drug abuse that in addition to heroin includes a plethora of other substances.

My Review: Set in 1950s America and Mexico, Junky is a confessional novella about drug addiction. Its protagonist Bill Lee chronicles his drug-centred existence, which entails searching for his daily fix, scoring, and intravenous drug consumption…(more)


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)


AboutThe story is about a man named Humbert Humbert, who falls in love with a twelve-year-old girl, Lolita, the daughter of his landlady.

My Review: The protagonist, Humbert Humbert, is an intellectual with an all-consuming craving for young girls, or nymphets as he refers to them.  After his wife leaves him for another man, Humbert Humbert becomes a live-in tutor for the Hazes, a family consisting of a…(more)


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

About: First published in 1962, A Clockwork Orange is a ground-breaking and controversial book with an intriguing and intelligent narrator. 

My Review: Alex is an eccentric 15-year-old delinquent with a penchant for classical music and drinking milk. He and his fellow ‘droogs’ assault, rob and rape with impunity, that is until a serious incident sees him arrested and incarcerated. Our anti-hero is anticipating…(more)


Pop.1280 by Jim Thompson (1964)

About: Pop.1280 is a first person work of noir fiction set in a sordid, rural Texas backwater. It is written in the author’s trademark stark, pulp prose style.   

My Review: Sheriff Nick Corey’s problems are mounting. There are the troublesome pimps, the nagging wife and mistress, and the forthcoming election that could see him replaced as sheriff. Intent on avoiding conflict at all costs, the seemingly slow-witted and…(more)


Post Office by Charles Bukowski (1971)

About: Utilising a brutal, blunt and fast-paced narrative, this  iconic work is about the banality, hardship and dehumanisation of unskilled drudgery.

My Review: Henry Chinaski is a heavy drinking, womanising, race track frequenting low-life, who works at the post office. The story follows his menial existence of twelve-hour night shifts, sorting post, delivering mail, observing his fellow colleagues and facing countless…(more)


Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis (1985)

About: Less Than Zero is about a privileged group of L.A. youngsters, who appear on the surface to have an idealistic life, but in reality live unrewarding existences.

My Review: Set in nineteen-eighties Los Angeles, the story follows eighteen-year-old Clay, returned home for Christmas from college in New Hampshire. Clay immediately falls back into the L.A. social scene, spending his time hanging-out with various wealthy teenagers…(more)


Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (2001)

About: Choke is in essence a social commentary about our innate craving for attention and the fundamental nature of addiction. The book utilises an episodic narrative.

My Review: The protagonist, Victor Mancini, is a sex addict employed at an eighteenth-century historical re-enactment park. Victor attends various sexual addiction support groups, where he meets many of his sex partners. It was at one…(more)


Necropolis by Guy Portman (2014)

About: Brutal, bleak and darkly comical, Necropolis is a savage indictment of the politically correct, health and safety obsessed public sector. Its sequel, Sepultura, is due for release in January.

Review: Dyson Devereux’s life appears to be on track. He has a way with the ladies, impeccable good taste, and as the recently promoted head of Burials and Cemeteries at Newton Borough Council, a job that demands respect. But Dyson is becoming annoyed with his drug-addled…(more)


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