Satiric novels make some of the most engaging reads because they have several layers of meaning attached to them. There is the surface meaning of the actual plot, and then comes the deeper meaning which is an indictment against a part of society. This can either be humorous or angry – either way, it’s a blast to read. Here are 10 satirical books you should read, for their content as well as structure is wonderful.

Pale Fire: Vladimir Nabokov

10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels - Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels – Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

This book, in the form of a book of poetry by a deceased author and accompanying commentary by an unreliable narrator, the editor, is highly experimental. Both the author as well as the editor characters are parodic, and serve to lightly and humorously critique the concept of utopia.

Gulliver’s Travels: Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

This classic follows the four voyages of Lemuel Gulliver – to the land of the Lilliputians, the Brobdingnag, Laputa islands and Houyhnhnms. The first is a land of dwarfs, the second of giants, the third of flying islands and the last of talking horses and disgusting Yahoos. In these voyages, Swift satirizes human condition, offering insights to the nature of man.

Animal Farm: George Orwell

10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels - Animal Farm by George Orwell
10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels – Animal Farm by George Orwell

This book takes place on an animal farm, where all animals unite to overthrow the oppressive humans and establish democracy. But eventually, the most intelligent animals, the pigs, establish control and descend into dictatorship worse than humans. This novella is a sharp indictment of authoritarianism, with allegories to totalitarian Soviet regimes.

Slaughterhouse Five: Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This antiwar book is structured in the form of Billy Pilgrim’s story. Without a conceivable plot or structure that adheres to the norm, this book is notoriously difficult to explain. Billy, dealing with the monsters of war, experiences delusions like alien abductions. His temporal narrative shifts back and forth, revealing Vonnegut’s criticism of war.

The Master and Margarita: Mikhail Bulgakov

10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels - The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels – The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

This bewildering Menippean satire follows Satan and his crew, including a naked witch and a cat with a penchant for chess and vodka, descent on earth. During their stay in Russia, they experience life in a city that believes in neither God nor Satan. But they also bring joy into the lives of the Master, a writer of a daring novel and Margarita, who loves him.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

In this cruel dystopian satire on sexism, Offred enters into a sort of sexual servitude to Fred and must perform just one function – breeding and repopulating earth. If she refuses to do so, she must meet her death. When she is unable to get pregnant by Fred, she sleeps with Nick, the driver. This quickly turns into a passionate affair with far-reaching consequences.

Oreo: Fran Ross

10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels - Oreo by Fran Ross
10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels – Oreo by Fran Ross

This hilarious satire is special because it comes from an African American woman. At its heart lie the relations between Jews and African Americans. The protagonist, Oreo is the child of a Black mother and Jewish father. As she sets out to discover her father, she realizes there are many in the city with the same name as her father. This turns into a satire on race.

Noir: Christopher Moore

Noir by Christopher Moore
Noir by Christopher Moore

Here, a smitten barkeeper and a fixer for higher hunt for the former’s sweetheart amidst absurd events like a UFO and a mysterious plane crash. This is a sharp satire on love, normalcy and the powerful elite.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Mark Twain

10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
10 Satirical Books You Should Read | Great Satiric Novels – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Twain’s classic follows a young boy in a 19th century Mississippi town. He recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave. This is a coming of age story and a wildly humorous read in and of itself, but it is also a subtle yet impactful satire on racism too.

The Sellout: Paul Beatty

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
The Sellout by Paul Beatty

In this book, a young man engages with the court to draw attention to his hometown. This is because authorities take it off the map of California. In the process, he ends up with a case in the supreme court, which becomes racially charged. This is a thought provoking satire on race.

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