8 Books with Unreliable Narrators

Jane Harris wonders: can you trust what they say?

I’m very fond of the unreliable narrator in fiction: the kind of novel that creeps up on us readers and makes us begin to question what we are being told. We become obliged to look for subtext. There are all sorts of unreliable narrator, from those who simply lack self-awareness (one of my favourite character flaws, very evident in users of social media!) to those who are downright evil. This list  - in no particular order - contains a broad spectrum from the simply self-deluding to the criminally insane.

Listen to our Book Talk discussion of Gillespie & I by Jane Harris

Pale Fire cover

1. Pale Fire

Vladimir Nabokov
Debt to Pleasure cover

2. The Debt to Pleasure

John Lanchester

List created by

Jane Harris

Jane Harris is the author of Gillespie and I and The Observations, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her screenplays have also garnered awards and nominations, including two BAFTA nominations in 1999 and 2000.