top of page
  • Writer's pictureNovel Nest

Twisted Realities: 25 Surrealism Fiction Masterpieces, Leonora Carrington, Angela Carter, Vladimir N

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

What other books would you add to this list?


Welcome to the enchanting realm of Surrealism Fiction, where reality blurs with the fantastical, and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. In this curated list of 25 Surrealism Fiction Masterpieces, we embark on a journey through the minds of visionary authors who challenge conventions, unravel the boundaries of logic, and invite us to explore the depths of the subconscious. From whimsical tales to mind-bending narratives, each book on this list offers a unique and immersive experience that will leave you questioning the nature of reality itself.


Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.



1. The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe:


In this Kafkaesque and existential novel, Abe immerses readers in a nightmarish tale of entrapment and existential questioning. The protagonist, an entomologist, finds himself trapped in a sand dune village with a mysterious woman. Abe's evocative prose and allegorical narrative create an atmosphere of claustrophobia and dread, symbolizing the struggle of the individual against an indifferent and unforgiving universe. The Woman in the Dunes is a surreal meditation on the human condition, provoking deep introspection about the nature of freedom, purpose, and the boundaries of existence.




2. Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov:


Nabokov's brilliant and disturbing novel follows Cincinnatus C., a man condemned to death in a surreal totalitarian society. As Cincinnatus navigates the absurdities of his impending execution, Nabokov's intricate prose delves into themes of individuality, freedom, and the existential search for meaning. The novel's surreal setting serves as a metaphor for the absurdity of existence, as readers are taken on a cerebral rollercoaster ride that blurs the line between reality and delusion. Nabokov's artistry lies in his ability to craft a profoundly philosophical tale that lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned.




3. The Opposing Shore by Julien Gracq:


In this dreamlike and philosophical novel, Gracq presents a haunting tale of love, isolation, and the interplay of time and memory. Through mesmerizing imagery and introspective prose, Gracq invites readers to contemplate the complexities of human relationships and the transient nature of existence. The narrative flows like a haunting melody, transporting readers to a realm of poetic introspection that evokes a sense of timelessness. As readers become immersed in the elegant prose, they are swept away on a tide of emotions, drifting through a world where the boundaries of reality and imagination blur into one.




4. The Tenant by Roland Topor:


In this nightmarish and Kafkaesque tale, Topor immerses readers in the disintegrating psyche of an unnamed tenant, who becomes consumed by paranoia and delusions. With surreal and claustrophobic intensity, Topor explores themes of identity, alienation, and the thin line between sanity and madness. The novel's unnerving atmosphere intensifies as the protagonist's grasp on reality slips, drawing readers into a labyrinth of uncertainty. Topor's masterful storytelling leaves readers unsettled, questioning the fragility of the human mind and the disturbing truths lurking beneath the surface of everyday life.




5. Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars:


Cendrars takes us on a wild and unpredictable adventure across continents and through time, following the unpredictable and amoral character of Moravagine. This surreal and satirical novel challenges societal norms and embraces the absurdity of existence. The novel's whirlwind narrative weaves together historical events, dark humor, and biting social commentary, inviting readers to confront the chaotic and irrational aspects of human nature. As readers accompany Moravagine on his anarchic escapades, they are presented with a disorienting yet enlightening exploration of the human condition.




6. The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat:


In this haunting and existential masterpiece, Hedayat delves into the tortured psyche of an unnamed narrator plagued by madness and existential despair. The narrative weaves a nightmarish tapestry of obsession, delusion, and psychological disintegration, blurring the line between reality and hallucination. Hedayat's lyrical prose and haunting imagery draw readers into the dark recesses of the human mind, leaving them mesmerized and disturbed in equal measure. The Blind Owl is an exploration of the human condition and the search for meaning in a world that seems devoid of purpose.




7. Tonguecat by Peter Verhelst:


Verhelst's hypnotic novel transports readers to a surreal and fantastical world where a man named Tonguecat undergoes a metamorphosis after surviving a horrific accident. This magical realist narrative interweaves elements of mythology, folklore, and dreamlike sequences, creating an immersive reading experience. Verhelst's imaginative prose and evocative storytelling push the boundaries of reality, inviting readers to question the nature of identity and the intricate relationship between the self and the surrounding universe.




8. Paris Peasant by Louis Aragon:


Aragon's poetic and surrealist prose takes readers on a poetic tour of Paris, where dream and reality intertwine in a mesmerizing collage of urban life. Through a series of vignettes and anecdotes, Aragon captures the essence of the city's soul, presenting a surreal and fragmented portrait of Parisian society. Paris Peasant is a celebration of the surreal, a love letter to the City of Lights, and an exploration of the subconscious as Aragon guides readers through the labyrinthine streets of the mind.




9. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington:


In this magical and eccentric novel, Leonora Carrington introduces us to 92-year-old Marian Leatherby, who receives a hearing trumpet and discovers a world of secret societies and strange occurrences. Carrington's surreal narrative blends humor, fantasy, and social commentary to create a thought-provoking and empowering exploration of aging and female identity. The book transcends traditional storytelling, taking readers on a whimsical journey that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and challenges societal norms with a touch of the absurd.




10. Blue of Noon by Georges Bataille:


Bataille's provocative and taboo-breaking novel thrusts readers into the decadent and chaotic world of 1930s Europe. As the rise of fascism looms, the narrative follows the nihilistic protagonist, who indulges in hedonism and debauchery. Bataille's poetic and surreal prose explores themes of violence, desire, and the dark underbelly of human nature. Blue of Noon is a scathing critique of societal norms and a radical exploration of the limits of morality, inviting readers to confront their own inner demons and the unsettling realities of the human psyche.




11. The Sufferings of Sternechholch by Ladislav Klíma:


Klíma's enigmatic and philosophical novel follows the journey of Sternechholch, a wanderer on a quest for self-discovery and meaning in a surreal and absurd world. The narrative unfolds as a series of allegorical vignettes, exploring themes of existential angst, the search for God, and the inherent absurdity of life. Klíma's surreal and thought-provoking prose challenges traditional notions of reality, inviting readers to embrace the uncertainty and complexity of existence.




12. Leg of the Lamb by Benjamin Péret:


Leg of the Lamb by Benjamin Péret is a captivating surrealistic journey that follows a group of revolutionaries entangled in bizarre and absurd circumstances. With imaginative prose and sharp social commentary, Péret challenges the norm and leads readers into a thought-provoking exploration of human nature and society's complexities. This surrealist gem invites readers to embrace the unpredictable and revel in its witty and satirical storytelling.




13. The Adventures of the Ingenious Alfanhui by Rafael Ferlosio:


Ferlosio's whimsical and enchanting novel takes readers on an extraordinary journey with the young Alfanhui as he embarks on a quest to find the mysterious source of life. The narrative unfolds as a fable-like tale, rich with symbolism and surreal encounters. Ferlosio's lyrical prose and vivid storytelling create a world that is both familiar and otherworldly, inviting readers to explore the profound mysteries of existence and the transformative power of imagination.




14. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien:


In this mind-bending and postmodern novel, O'Brien weaves a multi-layered narrative that blurs the lines between fiction and reality. The story revolves around a young student who writes a novel that begins to merge with the lives of its characters. O'Brien's inventive and playful narrative challenges the conventions of storytelling, inviting readers into a world where the boundaries of authorship and creativity dissolve. At Swim-Two-Birds is a surreal exploration of the nature of fiction and the limitless possibilities of the human imagination.




15. Hebdomeros by Giorgio de Chirico:


De Chirico's enigmatic and dreamlike novel follows the protagonist, Hebdomeros, on a surreal journey through a mysterious and shifting landscape. As he explores a dreamlike cityscape filled with bizarre and symbolic imagery, the boundaries between reality and illusion blur, leaving readers in a state of both wonder and bewilderment. De Chirico's painterly prose captures the essence of his iconic artwork, creating a narrative that feels like an ever-changing surrealist painting. Hebdomeros is a captivating exploration of the subconscious mind and the complexities of human perception.




16. The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman by Angela Carter:


In this dazzling and provocative novel, Carter crafts a fantastical and sexually charged narrative that explores desire, power, and the boundaries of reality. Dr. Hoffman, a sinister scientist, creates surreal machines that unleash uncontrollable desires upon the world. As chaos ensues, the protagonist becomes entangled in a web of passion and manipulation. Carter's lush and imaginative prose weaves a mesmerizing tapestry of pleasure and peril, challenging societal norms and traditional notions of identity. The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman is a daring and subversive work of surrealism that pushes the boundaries of literature and the human psyche.




17. The Skewed Tales by H.C. Artmann:


Artmann's collection of surreal and absurd tales invites readers into a world of whimsy and wonder, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary and the familiar is twisted into the bizarre. With his playful and inventive storytelling, Artmann explores the absurdity of everyday life, embracing the unexpected and the irrational. Each tale is a delightful and thought-provoking journey into the realms of the imagination, celebrating the beauty and complexity of the human experience.




18. Dark Spring by Unica Zürn:


Zürn's haunting and surreal novel delves into the psyche of a young girl as she navigates the turbulent waters of adolescence and womanhood. The narrative blurs the line between reality and fantasy, with dreamlike sequences and unsettling imagery that linger in the mind long after the book is closed. Zürn's poetic and introspective prose captures the emotional turmoil of the protagonist, drawing readers into a world of raw emotion and psychological intensity. Dark Spring is a surreal exploration of identity and the struggles of the human soul.




19. Valerie and Her Weeks of Wonders by Vitezslav Nezval:


In this poetic and phantasmagorical novel, Nezval weaves a surreal and hypnotic tale of adolescence and awakening sexuality. Valerie, a young girl, embarks on a dreamlike journey through a world filled with vampires, ghosts, and magical transformations. Nezval's evocative and lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of enchantment and mystery, drawing readers into a world where innocence and darkness intertwine. Valerie and Her Weeks of Wonders is a surreal meditation on the transition from childhood to adulthood and the complexities of human desire.




20. Motorman by David Ohle:


Ohle's offbeat and surreal novel takes place in a dystopian world populated by mutant creatures and bizarre landscapes. The protagonist, Moldenke, works as a "motorman," traversing the strange terrains and encountering eccentric characters. Ohle's unconventional narrative and absurdist humor subvert traditional storytelling, creating a unique and immersive reading experience. Motorman is a surreal journey into a world of eccentricity and satire, challenging readers to question the absurdity of the human condition.




21. Edition 69 by Jindrich Styrsky:


Edition 69 is a striking and provocative surrealist collage created by Jindrich Styrsky, a Czech artist and writer. Blending eroticism, symbolism, and the bizarre, Edition 69 is a visual and literary exploration of desire and the unconscious. Styrsky's innovative and experimental approach to art challenges conventional notions of reality and beauty. Edition 69 is a surreal and evocative masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of artistic expression.




22. Aurelia and Other Writings by Gerard de Nerval:


Nerval's poetic and introspective writings delve into the realms of the subconscious and the mysteries of the human soul. Aurelia, a prose poem, takes readers on a surreal and dreamlike journey through the psyche of the narrator. Nerval's lucid and imaginative prose captures the essence of dreams and the ethereal beauty of the mind's inner landscape. Aurelia and Other Writings is a surreal exploration of the human condition and the enigmatic realms of the imagination.




23. Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe:


In this metaphysical and mind-bending novel, Abe introduces readers to a surreal world where the protagonist finds himself transformed into a kangaroo. As he navigates this absurd and dreamlike reality, he encounters a series of bizarre and enigmatic characters. Abe's surreal and allegorical narrative challenges readers to question the nature of identity and the fluidity of existence. Kangaroo Notebook is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience and the mysteries of the self.




24. Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian:


Vian's tragicomic and surreal novel follows the love story of Colin and Chloe, a couple whose idyllic romance takes a surreal turn when Chloe falls ill with a mysterious and deadly condition. Vian's inventive and playful narrative blends absurd humor with heart-wrenching emotion, creating a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of love, loss, and the fragility of life. Froth on the Daydream is a surreal and whimsical masterpiece that captures the beauty and tragedy of the human experience.




25. Nadja by André Breton:


Breton's autobiographical novel is a poetic and surreal exploration of love, desire, and the subconscious mind. The protagonist encounters Nadja, a mysterious and enigmatic woman who becomes the embodiment of his dreams and desires. As he delves deeper into the complexities of their relationship, reality and fantasy merge in a mesmerizing and dreamlike narrative. Nadja is a surreal meditation on the power of love and the mysterious workings of the human heart and mind.



Conclusion:


Twisted Realities: 25 Surrealism Fiction Masterpieces is a journey into the realm of the bizarre, the fantastical, and the enigmatic. From the dreamlike landscapes of Paris to the dystopian worlds of mutant creatures, these surreal novels challenge our perceptions of reality and invite us to explore the depths of the human imagination. Each book in this collection offers a unique and mind-bending experience, pushing the boundaries of literature and provoking deep introspection. Surrealism fiction is a genre that celebrates the unconventional, the mysterious, and the absurd, and these masterpieces exemplify the power of storytelling to transport us to uncharted territories of the mind. So, dive into these surreal worlds and prepare to be captivated by the twisted realities that await.

bottom of page