Nuclear fallout, the Holocaust, government oppression, poverty, mental illness and the savage nature of humanity itself - all topics covered in some of the most depressing books.
The Road, a heart-breaking novel of unending post-apocalyptic horror including cannibalism and violence, easily topped the list and that was no surprise.
Three Oprah Winfrey Book Club picks make the list – The Road, Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust novel, Night, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye – a novel of racism, incest and cruelty. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged has undergone a massive revival over the past 12 months with many critics relating the book’s collapsing society to the world’s current economic woes – it is also one of five books on the list published in the 1950s (along with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four from 1949). Was the 1950s really such a depressing period for authors?
On the Beach by Nevil Shute is a true product of its time. Published in 1957, this end-of-the-world novel reflected the nuclear arms race of the period. One of the book’s many bleak themes is government-sponsored suicide in the face of radiation.
Sylvia Plath’s own suicide shortly after the publication of her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, adds a depressing note of realism to the appearance of this particular book on the list.