Penguin Modern Classics

.

Join the Penguin Classics newsletter

New and forthcoming

The Blizzard

Vladimir Sorokin

A darkly comic dystopian odyssey, from one of Russia's leading contemporary novelists

Garin, a country doctor, is desperately trying to reach the village of Dolgoye, where a mysterious epidemic is transforming the villagers into zombies. He has with him a vaccine which will prevent the spread of this epidemic, but a terrible blizzard turns his journey into the stuff of nightmare. A trip that should take hours turns into a metaphysical odyssey, in which he encounters strange beasts, apparitions, hallucinations and dangerous fellow men. Trapped in this existential storm, Sorokin's characters fight their way through a landscape that owes as much to Chekhov's 19th-century Russia as it does to near-future, post-apocalyptic literature. Fantastical, comic and richly drawn, The Blizzard at once answers to the canon of Russian writers and makes a fierce statement about life in contemporary Russia.

Day of the Oprichnik

Vladimir Sorokin

Haunting, terrifying and hilarious, The Day of the Oprichnik is a dazzling novel and a fierce critique of life in the New Russia

Moscow 2028: Andrei Danilovich Komiaga, oprichnik, member of the czar's inner circle of trusted courtiers, rouses himself from a drunken stupor and prepares for another day of debauchery, violence, terror and beauty. In this New Russia, futuristic technology combine with the draconian world of Ivan the Terrible to create a dystopia chillingly akin to reality. Over the twenty-four-hour span of the novel, Komiaga will rape, pillage and torture, in the name of the czar he fears and adores. Shimmering with invention, fierce social commentary and razor-sharp wit, Day of the Oprichnik imagines a near future too disturbing to contemplate and too close to reality to ignore.

Absolute Friends

John le Carré

The friends of the title are Ted Mundy, a British soldier's son born in 1947 in a newly independent Pakistan, and Sasha, the refugee son of an East German Lutheran pastor and his wife who have sought sanctuary in the West.

The two men meet first as students in riot-torn West Berlin of the late Sixties and again in the grimy looking-glass of Cold War espionage. When they meet once more, in today's unipolar world of terror, counter-terror and the war of lies, they become involved in clandestine activities - with lethal results.

Absolute Friends is a superbly paced novel spanning fifty-six years, a theatrical masterstroke of tragi-comic writing, and a savage fable of our times.

The Constant Gardener

John le Carré

Tessa Quayle has been horribly murdered on the shores of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has disappeared.

Her husband, Justin, a career diplomat and amateur gardener at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive. His quest takes him to the Foreign Office in London, across Europe and Canada and back to Africa, to the depths of South Sudan, and finally to the very spot where Tessa died.

On his way Justin meets terror, violence, laughter, conspiracy and knowledge. But his greatest discovery is the woman he barely had time to love.

Single & Single

John le Carré

A corporate lawyer from the House of Single & Single is shot dead in cold blood on a Turkish hillside. A children's entertainer in Devon is hauled to his local bank late at night to explain a monumental influx of cash. A Russian freighter is arrested in the Black Sea. A celebrated London financier has disappeared into thin air. A British customs officer is on a trail of corruption and murder. The logical connection of these events is one of the many pleasures of this extraordinary new novel of love, deceit and the triumph of humanity. Single and Single is a thrilling journey of the human heart - intimate, magical and riotous, revealing le Carré at the height of his dramatic and creative powers.

The Naive and Sentimental Lover

John le Carré

Aldo Cassidy is the naive and sentimental lover. A successful, judicious man, he is wrenched away from the ordered certainties of his life by a sudden encounter with Shamus, a wild, carousing artist and Helen, his nakedly alluring wife.

Cassidy, plunged into a whirlpool of recklessness and spontaneity, becomes a man bewildered and agonised as he is torn between two poles of a nature more complex than he had ever imagined.

The Honourable Schoolboy

John le Carré

It is a beleaguered and betrayed Secret Service that has been put in the care of George Smiley. A mole has been uncovered at the organisation's highest levels - and its agents across the world put in grave danger. But untangling the traitor's web gives Smiley a chance to attack his Russian counterpart, Karla. And part-time spy Jerry Westerby is the weapon at Smiley's disposal.

The Honourable Schoolboy is remarkable and thrilling, one of three books (together with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People) to feature the legendary clash between Smiley and Karla, two brilliant spymasters on opposite sides of the Cold War.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

John le Carré

George Smiley, who is a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy.

The scene which he enters is a Cold War landscape of moles and lamplighters, scalp-hunters and pavement artists, where men are turned, burned or bought for stock. Smiley's mission is to catch a Moscow Centre mole burrowed thirty years deep into the Circus itself.

A Perfect Spy

John le Carré

Magnus Pym, ranking diplomat, has vanished, believed defected. The chase is on: for a missing husband, a devoted father, and a secret agent. Pym's life, it is revealed, is entirely made up of secrets.
Dominated by a father who is also a confidence trickster on an epic scale, Pym has from the age of seventeen been controlled by two mentors. It is these men, racing each other, who are orchestrating the search to find the perfect spy.

Described by the author as his most autobiographical work, John le Carré's eleventh novel masterfully blends wit, compassion and unflagging tension with the poignant story of an estranged father and son.

Smiley's People

John le Carré

The murdered man had been an agent - once, long ago. But George Smiley's superiors at the Secret Service want to see the crime buried, not solved. Smiley will not leave it at that, not when it might lead him all the way to Karla, the elusive Soviet spymaster . . .

Smiley's People is a thrilling confrontation between one of the most famous spies in all fiction and his Cold War rival, Karla. Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy, it is as tense and unforgettable as only le Carré's novels can be.

The Mission Song

John le Carré

At a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and Congolese warlords, an interpreter finds his conscience re-awakening.

Bruno Salvador has worked on clandestine missions before. A highly skilled interpreter, he is no stranger to the Official Secrets Act. But this is the first time he has been asked to change his identity - and, worse still, his clothes - in service of his country.

Whisked to a remote island to interpret a top-secret conference between no-name financiers and Congolese warlords, Salvo's excitement is only heightened by memories of the night before he left London, and his life-changing encounter with a beautiful nurse named Hannah.

Exit suddenly, the unassuming, happily married man Salvo believed himself to be. Enter in his place, the pseudonymous Brian Sinclar: spy, lover - and perhaps, even, hero.

A Most Wanted Man

John le Carré

A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa.

Poignant, compassionate, peopled with characters the reader never wants to let go, A Most Wanted Man is alive with humour, yet prickles with tension until the last heart-stopping page. It is also a work of deep humanity, and uncommon relevance to our times.

You can never have enough books…

Sign up for news on our latest and greatest reads