Novels featuring a Greek chorus have recently taken center stage on my reading list. If you’ll recall from your Lit 101 course, the Greek chorus is rooted in the traditions of early Greek drama where a group of masked players commented in unison on the events taking place on the main stage. Characterized by an often unnamed “we” narrator and recognized in contemporary literature as the “collective voice,” the Greek chorus provides a bewitching disembodied voice that, when layered with dramatic action, makes for a truly absorbing read. These ten novels inspired by the tradition do just that.
Written in magical language with visceral images, WE THE ANIMALS uses the collective narrator to portray the chaotic heart of one family and the lives of three close brothers tearing their way through childhood.
In this spellbinding novel of identity and loyalty, a collective narrator traces the extraordinary lives of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides”—from their arduous journeys by boat to their tremulous first nights as wives.
If you’re a fan of the “mockumentary” TV hit “The Office,” you’re going to love this wickedly funny read. The Greek chorus in this novel about office life copes with a business downturn through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.
When free-spirited Batsheva moves into a close-knit Orthodox community in Memphis, she shakes the already precarious relationship between the Ladies Auxiliary—the “we” in this novel—and their teenage daughters to the core. A profound, insightful look into the struggle between mothers and daughters—there’s no better way for this story to be told.
The ghostly victims of a bad batch of heroin pay homage to their friend whose body is found in an abandoned apartment. A chorus keeping vigil, they watch as his body is taken away, examined, investigated, and cremated.
Against a vividly imagined future, ON SUCH A FULL SEA tells the stunning and surprising story of a long-declining American society strictly stratified by class. Using a deeply ethereal voice, Chang-Rae Lee tells the story of Fan, a fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore) when the man she loves mysteriously disappears.
Can you imagine a world where the use of the word “I” is punishable by death? In perhaps a more literal use of the “we” narrator, Ayn Rand imagines a world characterized by irrationality, collectivism, and socialistic thinking and economics. “Twilight Zone” fans, conspiracy theorists, and everyone in between: make this classic your next read.