Not Your Usual Narrator

By Lukie Marriott

A narrator's point of view is a huge element in any story. But some narrators offer an especially unique perspective. Flush, by Virginia Woolf, is narrated by a cocker spaniel, and in Moo, by Jane Smiley, part of the novel is told from a pig's point of view. Take a look at this sampling of additional books with unconventional narrators.

  • Elizabeth Is Missing

    2014 by Emma Healey

    Would you believe a woman with dementia who insists that something nefarious has befallen her missing friend? Despite Maud’s mental confusion, her suspicions are convincing and creepy. My sympathies were with this poor woman who could barely find her way home, and I worried for her safety.

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  • Before I Go to Sleep : a novel

    2011 by S. J. Watson

    Recently made into a movie, this is psychological suspense narrated by an amnesiac. When Christine realizes that her amnesia is the result of a violent attack, things get dicey. Who can she trust and what will she remember next day? I did not know if her perceptions were accurate or the result of confusion and paranoia, making for a tense, gripping read. The movie’s good, too!

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  • The Bear : a novel

    2014 by Claire Cameron

    The narrator of this grisly tale is five years old, lost in the woods after a horrific bear attack , accompanied only by her toddler brother. The author does an amazing job of imagining what kind of sense such a young child would make of this gruesome and challenging situation, how she could possibly survive, and deal with a baby brother, too!

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  • Room : a novel

    2010 by Emma Donoghue

    Another very young child narrates, this time from the room where he and his mother have been held captive since he was born. To Jack, TV is where sky and cars and other people exist. “Outside” is a name for something for which he has no concept. I was riveted on multiple levels by this story that is too often reflected in the news. Horrible, hopeful and suspenseful.

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  • The character of rain : a novel

    2000 by Nothomb, Amélie

    Youngest narrator yet, this one is newborn and, at the completion of the novel, just turned three, observing Japanese culture with very fresh eyes. This novella is a uniquely creative, humorous, tongue-in-cheek bit of existentialism.

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  • Lila

    2014 by Marilynne Robinson

    After a childhood on the run and barely any schooling, Lila is a misfit in town, yet her unschooled questions about religion are enlivening to her minister husband. I was intrigued by her outsider’s perspective as well as the notion that her difficult, itinerant existence still called to her.

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  • Then We Came to the End : a novel

    2007 by Joshua Ferris

    Who is narrating this novel? “We” work in an advertising firm, eavesdropping on each other’s lives from behind cubicle walls. Funny, brash, insightful and truly original in style, we readers may find aspects of ourselves and our co-workers reflected here, especially if we work in an office setting.

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  • The Buddha In the Attic

    2011 by Julie Otsuka

    Another novel using the unusual first person plural, Otsuka manages to give both a personal and collective portrait of the experiences of Japanese immigrants in the U.S. The style is incantatory and hypnotic, the content beautiful and terrible and illuminating; really a powerful, albeit tiny, book.

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  • The Book Thief

    2006 by Markus Zusak

    Who better to narrate a novel about Nazi Germany than Death? Turning the perspective around, the omniscient narrator is haunted by the human capacity for cruelty and horror, and the sheer numbers of the dying. Death looks for beauty amidst the horrors of the Holocaust and finds it in the life of young Liesel.

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  • The Rosie Project

    2013 by Graeme C Simsion

    A scientist, who is vaguely aware that he cannot read social cues, designs a scientific method for finding his perfect mate. Miscommunications abound! Gradually, you'll see Don develop a greater understanding of social interactions and emotional attachment in this sweet, funny book. The sequel, The Rosie Effect, is now available.

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