One Northport friend said Anna Karenina was the most depressing book she’d ever read. Oh, surely not! My own candidates for that honor would be John Updike’s In the Beauty of the Lilies, Richard Wright’s Native Son (both great American novels) or anything at all by Joyce Carol Oates. Another friend chose Kafka’s The Trial as the most depressing novel he’d ever read, and then one of the younger generation chimed in with Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser. We will never have consensus, but it's fascinating to see the roster of candidates take shape.
How about you? What is the most depressing novel of your lifetime's reading so far, and are you glad you read it, despite the feeling you had during and after the experience? Do depressing novels seem more literary? Literary novels more depressing? What's the best novel you've ever read that had a happy ending? Can a novel be both depressing and happily ended?
I need to stop! My head is spinning, and the questions are proliferating like wire coat hangers in an empty closet!