Books by Doris Lessing

ALFRED AND EMILY by Doris Lessing
Released: Aug. 5, 2008

"At age 89, the author may be slowing down a trifle, but the best parts here are as bracing and engaging as anything she's written in the past 30 years."
In her first post-Nobel book, Lessing (The Cleft, 2007, etc.) imagines what her parents' life—and England—would have been like if World War I had never happened. Read full book review >
THE CLEFT by Doris Lessing
Released: Aug. 2, 2007

"A dark parable, powerful yet baffling."
One of postcolonial fiction's brightest lights makes mythic the battle of the sexes. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 4, 2006

"It is Lessing's ability to summarize a complex behavior in a sentence rather than the haphazard plot that compels our interest here."
A sequel to Mara and Dann (1999), this book employs a similar terse narrative style, appropriate to people who for centuries have been adrift in a world of primitive technology and thought and violent social structures. Read full book review >
TIME BITES by Doris Lessing
Released: Dec. 1, 2005

"While this collection of random journalism—some dating back to 1974, but most from the past decade—has the inevitable repetitions and a rather scattershot feel, it still gives a nice sense of Lessing's character and commitments in vigorous old age."
Agreeable ephemera—book reviews, forewords to reissues, personal essays, etc.—illuminating the distinguished novelist's nonfictional preoccupations. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 9, 2004

"When you're dealing with an author whose track record spans a half-century and paradigm-altering works like The Golden Notebook, it's too easy to simply praise another excellent effort. Where is this woman's Nobel Prize?"
Four novellas demonstrating that 84-year-old author (The Sweetest Dream, 2002, etc.) still boasts a range and power few writers half her age can muster. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 10, 2002

"Lessing's best in years. She remains, in vigorous old age, one of the world's essential writers."
The dream of a perfect society is the ironic center of Lessing's absorbing new novel: her 24th, published in her 82nd year. Read full book review >
BEN, IN THE WORLD by Doris Lessing
Released: Aug. 10, 2000

"Isn't it about time this woman received serious Nobel Prize consideration? Few, if any, living writers can have explored so many forbidding fictional worlds with such passion and conviction."
Far from resting on her laurels, Lessing—who has been publishing for 50 years, and goes from strength to strength—offers this bleak monitory sequel to her harrowing The Fifth Child (1988). Read full book review >
MARA AND DANN by Doris Lessing
Released: Jan. 8, 1999

"She isn't a stylist, and she takes no prisoners, but this writer remains one of contemporary fiction's genuine thinkers and visionaries, and it would be folly to ignore her."
Lessing's 22nd novel, a dystopian allegory set in "Ifrik" (formerly Africa) thousands of years hence, is a ponderous, hectoring, fascinating second cousin to her Memoirs of a Survivor (1975) and The Four-Gated City (1969) (and quite reminiscent, incidentally, of Norman Mailer's similarly forbidding Ancient Evenings). Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

"Further proof, if it were needed, of Lessing's remarkable ability to look reality in the face and not blink."
Lessing, as this second installment of her autobiography again proves, is one of those rare writers who has lived the examined life and is willing to share what she has learned and done, even if it is not to her credit. Read full book review >
LOVE, AGAIN by Doris Lessing
Released: April 1, 1996

"Love, Again is a triumphant vindication of her literary method."
A probing and provocative examination of the experience of love as the mind and body approach old age, by the eminent British author best known for The Golden Notebook, her classic depiction of woman's fate (which this new novel intermittently evokes and resembles). Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 1994

"Refreshingly, not a self-indulgent mea culpa, but a brutally frank examination of how Lessing became what she is — a distinguished writer, a woman who has lived life to the full, and a constant critic of cant."
As is to be expected from Lessing (The Real Thing; 1992, etc.), whose clear and always intelligent no-nonsense writing has explored subjects that transcend the commonplace, this first volume of her autobiography reflects all her remarkable strengths. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 21, 1992

"Always the fair-minded realist, Leasing isn't overly optimistic about the future, but her sympathetic account of Zimbabwe's struggle to forge a common destiny is most worthwhile."
Leasing, once a "Prohibited Immigrant" barred from her childhood homeland of Rhodesia by its white minority government, returns to what is now Zimbabwe—and in inimitably forthright style records her impressions. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1992

"No warm and fuzzy feelings here, only bracing truths—but then that's what Lessing has always done best."
In a new collection, Lessing (The Fifth Child, 1988, etc.) again demonstrates the formidable intelligence and lucid vision that make her writing so distinctive. Read full book review >
THE FIFTH CHILD by Doris Lessing
Released: March 25, 1988

"But, despite echoes of pop-fiction (Rosemary's Baby, etc.) and TV-movie case-histories (damaged child, valiant mum), the plain story itself—fine-tuned with ordinary-life details yet also insidiously fable-like—is stark, relentless, and memorably harrowing."
Ever unpredictable, Lessing now offers a rather cryptic yet uncommonly accessible tale of psycho-social horror: a variation on the classic "changeling" formula—here marbled, subtly and disturbingly, with such Lessing themes as apocalyptic doom, the rough dignity of society's outcasts, and the dark underside of human nature. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 14, 1987

"Lesser Lessing."
Many of Lessing's (Shikasta; The Good Terrorist, etc.) novels have dealt with the particular confusions and complexities of modern life. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 25, 1985

"Altogether, this is a book which is strong as a diagnostic study of political motivation—and stronger still as an uncannily authentic character-study."
In her first signed novel since the mythical Canopus in Argos series, Lessing returns to reality—and to her considerable gifts for social observation and vivid characterization. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 17, 1981

"So: perhaps the least ambitious or demanding of Lessing's visionary parables—but one with moments of great, dirge-like, roughly poetic power."
The fourth novel in Lessing's Canopus in Argus series is the shortest, the simplest, and (though frequently given over to long, lyric/philosophical monologues) the most fable-like. Read full book review >
Released: April 4, 1980

"But there is a sweetness and generosity about this work not quite like anything she has done; like the difficult but moving Shikasta, it seems to encompass and summarize dozens of her previous concerns with a sort of piercing magnanimity."
This brief fable, the second work in the science-fiction series begun with Shikasta (1979), is bound to be read as a return to the portrayals of sexual politics responsible for Lessing's initial vogue. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 5, 1980

"Demanding and uningratiating, then, but—like previous Canopus volumes—worth the effort of readers attuned to the very biggest questions."
After a digression into sexual politics (The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five), Lessing's science-fiction cycle returns to the broad sociological preoccupations of Shikasta (1979)—in which we learned of the Canopean Empire's benevolent, triumphant, yet doomed experiments with primates on Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta. Read full book review >
SHIKASTA by Doris Lessing
Released: Oct. 22, 1979

Lessing's latest project, a series entitled Canopus in Argos—Archives, will (if this first volume is any indication) firmly pull together and extend all the most controversial elements of her recent work. Read full book review >
STORIES by Margaret Drabble
Released: May 22, 1978

"An appropriately austere package for the only very occasionally sentimental Mrs. Lessing."
Thirty-five short fictions by the author of The Golden Notebook: principally the entire contents of The Temptation of Jack Orkney and Other Stories (1972) and A Man and Two Women (1963). Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1975

"True, the Lessing name and perhaps more hold a certain initial inductive curiosity but somehow no matter how many doors are opened, unease, antipathy, 'cold and silence' are there along with Her."
After touching down on common ground In The Summer Before the Dark, Doris Lessing has written another didactic, apocalyptic briefing which she has described elsewhere as "an attempt at autobiography." Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 26, 1974

"All in all, both controversially and reconcilably, a stimulus, an illumination, a pleasure."
Assorted insights and opinions dom assorted book reviews, essays, interviews including a new preface to The Golden Notebook which redefines Doris Lessing's best known book from several facets (which she claims eluded most critics) and not necessarily as a pro-feminist statement (even if Anna did say — did she not — that the real revolution of our time is that of "women against men"). Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1973

"Who can remain exempt?"
With what tenacity, as well as shattering effectiveness, has Doris Lessing functioned as the cartologist of women in our time scanning their various intellectual, biological and emotional binds ali the way beyond reality. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 27, 1972

"The stories have the virtues of their diversity and ease and, on the whole, a gentleness which suggests an accommodation and acceptance one might never have expected."
It is almost ten years since Doris Lessing's last collection of short stories and in this form she is less identifiably herself — there is none of the militance, both personal and political, which has intensified the thrust of her novels. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1971

"Perhaps only the primary message of the book that the individual is only a small part of humanity which is in turn only a small part of that grand design."
The briefing, one of a very few fixed points in Miss Lessing's self-styled "inner space fiction," takes place well above the clouds at a conference where Minna Err and Merk Ury (oh dear) decide to send some delegates to Hell, or Earth, to reclaim the planet from aggressiveness and irrationality and "separativeness." Read full book review >
THE FOUR-GATED CITY by Doris Lessing
Released: May 16, 1969

"But it does have the self-propelled continuity of The Golden Notebook, a kind of flaying, furious, obsessive momentum which should assure much of the same audience."
This is the fifth and last installment of Doris Lessing's Bildungsroman—Children of Violence—which began with Martha Quest, published in England in 1952. Read full book review >
Released: May 9, 1967

"Particularly cat lovers."
Novelist Doris Lessing can recall "a hundred incidents involving cats, years and years of cats"—and does so in a memoir that reaches across continents and the years, and extreme feline states. Read full book review >
AFRICAN STORIES by Doris Lessing
Released: Oct. 15, 1965

"It is an impressive collection, confirming the stringent sympathies of this writer which consistently represent protest and commitment."
Doris Lessing spent most of her first thirty years in South Africa, the "tough, sunburnt, virile, positive country contemptuous of subtleties and sensibility" described thus on the first page of this 700 page collection of shorter and longer stories. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 11, 1964

"Her story is a consistently interesting audit of experience, and full of the emotional energy, integrity, and clear if sometimes wrongheaded intelligence which has validated and distinguished earlier books."
Doris Lessing's glittering Golden Notebook (1962) was five books in one; Children of Violence is made up of the first two books of a prospective quintet. Read full book review >
A MAN AND TWO WOMEN by Doris Lessing
Released: Oct. 9, 1963

"Nineteen stories in all, which pinpoint and needle the anxieties, collisions, betrayals of emotional experience in disabused terms."
This is Doris Lessing's first collection of short stories in some time and it is to be hoped that her audience in this country (she has always commanded considerable attention in England) will now, since The Golden Notebook, be more alert. Read full book review >
THE HABIT OF LOVING by Doris Lessing
Released: Jan. 1, 1957

"An audience- while deserved- may be difficult to assure."
A collection of short stories, always able and sometimes notable, range from England to Africa to the continent, from lighter sketches to soberer commentaries on beaten, broken lives, and are distinguished by their quietly perspicacious view of human existence and experience. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 11, 1950

"The deadening atmosphere here, the external pressures which combine with inner weaknesses, all blend into a saddening and often compelling portrayal of deterioration."
In monotones, this is a tragic story of emotional immaturity as it retreats to the borderline of madness, effectively projected against the sultry, faded, bleak country of the South African farming country. Read full book review >

"Others will find it a painful, revelatory, fascinating book, and while Doris Lessing is not as glittering a writer as Simone de Beauvoir, some of her concerns may occasion the comparison and suggest a market."
Doris Lessing has been established in England, rather than here, as one of the most interesting writers since the '40's and this remarkable book, unquestionably her major work to date, reflects a savage intelligence which does not exclude passion. Read full book review >