20 books that rocked the English-language universe

Captain Corelli's mandolinA panel of literary experts has compiled a list of what they think are the top novels released over the last 20 years. It’s being done to  mark the 20th anniversary of the Independent Bath Literature Festival.

The books had to have been deemed to have ‘transformed the literary landscape’ to make the list. Every novel shortlisted for a prize in the past 20 years was included, as well as some the panel believed had been overlooked. Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, recently adapted for TV by BBC Two, was picked out as the overall winner.

Commentator John Walsh, who sat on the panel, said: ‘We think the final top 20 represents the books that most conspicuously rocked the English-language universe in the last 20 years.’

Here they are in date order:

  1. 1995 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Louis de Bernieres)
  2. 1996 Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood)
  3. 1997 American Pastoral (Philip Roth)
  4. 1998 England, England (Julian Barnes) (reordering this)
  5. 1999 Disgrace (JM Coetzee)
  6. 2000 White Teeth (Zadie Smith)
  7. 2001 Atonement (Ian McEwan)
  8. 2002 Any Human Heart (William Boyd)
  9. 2003 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)
  10. 2004 Small Island (Andrea Levy)
  11. 2005 We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
  12. 2006 The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
  13. 2007 Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
  14. 2008 The Outcast (Sadie Jones)
  15. 2009 The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters)
  16. 2010 Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)
  17. 2011 A Visit From the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
  18. 2012 State of Wonder (Ann Patchett)
  19. 2013 Life After Life (Kate Atkinson)
  20. 2014 The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt)