The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Want more deftly-told tales of outsiders? Try these next…

Taipei by Tao Lin for an urban, super-original story by a young male author

We Need New Names by NoViolet Buweylo for a strong, new (award-winning) voice in immigrant fiction that will both devastate and uplift you

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart for a true story about a boy who’s unlucky in love, trying to fit into capitalist America

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende for a sweeping saga about dictatorships, family and love in Latin America

This post was guest edited by Lex Hirst, an editor at Random House. She blogs about books at Beautiful & Necessary.

Though if love was an animal, Garret knew, it would probably be the Loch Ness Monster. If it didn’t exist, that didn’t matter. People made models of it, put it in the water, and took photos. The hoax of it was good enough. The idea of it. Though some people feared it, wished it would just go away, had their lives insured against being eaten alive by it.
—  Tao Lin
There was an enjoyment to being alive, he felt, that because of an underlying meaninglessness–like how a person alone for too long cannot feel comfortable when with others; cannot neglect that underlying the feeling of belongingness is the certainty, really, of loneliness, and nothingness, and so experiences life in that hurried, worthless way one experiences a mistake–he could no longer get at.
—  Tao Lin, Eeeee Eee Eeee

‘Ryan Gosling’

I am becoming increasingly hostile and unsympathetic
social interaction makes me tired and irritated
I have alienated myself
I don’t have meaningful relationships
I don’t have romantic relationships
I read a lot of depressing books
I like being alone
I am a bland person
I am an afterthought
I am a bag of unsalted pretzels
I don’t know
I am constantly reaching toward some nebulous goal
I am not a mean person
I am not a bad person
I am only okay

—  Mira Gonzalez, from her book ‘i will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together’