Challenge yourself with these 10 genre bending books

by |February 10, 2017

Alan Moore: “My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky.”

Not all fiction sits snugly within a certain genre: crime, romance, or fantasy. Sometime sci-fi gets splashed with a little fantasy, crime may be peppered with a few paranormal elements, and romance may get a dollop or two of horror.

Lucky for us, there are authors who love catering to us hybrid readers, trailblazing authors who take sledgehammers to genre rules and traditions and create mesmerizing works of fiction in the process.

Below you’ll find a selection of our favourite genre bending books. Which ones have we missed?

 Genre Bending Fiction

All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai

Tom has just 20 seconds to save the world. But which world will he choose?

You know the future that people in the fifties imagined we’d have? Flying cars, food pills and moon bases? Well, it happened. And it’s just as great as we hoped it would be. Except, in this world, a series of heartbreaks leaves Tom alone. So he hijacks his father’s time machine, and goes back to where it all began – the moment when the world as we know it, and the world as Tom lives it, parted ways, due to a ground-breaking experiment.

Only, thanks to Tom’s accidental intrusion, the experiment fails and he returns ‘home’ to find his world erased and replaced with our own 2016 – by comparison, a chaotic mess. In our world, however, Tom discovers vastly improved versions of his family, his career, and – best of all – his soulmate, Penny. So. Should he fix the flow of history, bringing back into existence his old utopian reality, or to try to forge a new life in our messy one? Learn more about All Our Wrong Todays.

4 3 2 1
by Paul Auster

Review by Ilse Scheepers: Auster’s latest novel is an absolute thumper that will cause anyone foolish enough to carry it around in a shoulder bag a permanent crick in the neck.

The novel follows the life of Archibald Ferguson – in fact, it follows four parallel lives of the same Archibald Ferguson – exploring the roads taken, not taken, taken by someone else, and dare I say it, roads that never existed in the first place but that still bare considering.

This is a novel that requires the reader to contort and stretch their reading minds in new ways, keeping track of four different iterations of the one man, while also pausing to bask in the undeniable musicality of Auster’s prose. Complex and deliberately difficult at times, Auster plays with his readers and challenges them to keep up while he riffs on the page…  Learn more about 4 3 2 1


Hag-Seed (The Tempest Retold)
by Margaret Atwood

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, revenge and second chances leads us on an interactive… Learn more about Hag-Seed.

The Passion
by Jeanette Winterson

Henri had a passion for Napoleon and Napoleon had a passion for chicken. From Boulogne to Moscow Henri butchered for his Emperor and never killed a single man. Meanwhile, in Venice, the city of chance and disguises, Villanelle was born with the webbed feet of her boatman father – but in the casinos she gambled her heart and lost.  As the soldier-chef’s love for Napoleon turns to hate he finds the Venetian beauty, and together they flee to the canals of darkness.

“It’s a fantasy, a vivid dream…inventive and brilliant”. (Guardian).

“As moving and funny as it is skilful, and reflects the author’s formidable appetite for life.” (Sunday Times).

“A book of great imaginative audacity and assurance…brilliantly physical (and funny) detail”. (Times Literary Supplement)…  Learn more about The Passion.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty.

Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s passionate love for each other with grace and humour. Their struggle to lead normal lives in the face of a force they can neither prevent nor control is intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. Learn more about The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Death Comes To Pemberley
by P.D. James

P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, in this number one bestselling crime story.

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, as the guests are preparing to retire for the night a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth’s younger, unreliable sister – stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement… Learn more about Death Comes To Pemberley.

Browse more Genre Bending Fiction here


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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


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