“Cult fiction” is a difficult term to define. Often, cult fiction books contain bilge enough to make even the bravest to cringe. However, books that change people’s philosophy and life can also become cult classics. One thing is for sure – a cult fiction book is not forgotten with time. Here are the top ten cult fiction bestsellers arranged by their publishing year:
1. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by JD Salinger
The main protagonist of the novel Holden Caulfield became an iconic figure for the teenage rebellion after the book was published. The narrative follows Caufield’s stay and experiences in New York city after he elopes from fictional city of Aferstown, Pennsylvania.
2. The Alexandria Quartet – a series of four books (1957-60) by Lawrence Durrell
This is a series of four books: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive and Clea. Each book provides a different perspective about the same event that happened before, during and after World War II. In Durrell’s own words, the novels are an exploration of relativity, continuum and subject-object relation; the subject being modern love.
3. Catch-22 (1961) by Joseph Heller
A satirical and historical novel, Catch 22 actually introduced the ‘catch-22’ dilemma to the world. The novel is set during the later part of the World War II. The distinguishing thing about this novel is that there is no chronological sequence to the story as such. The time-line becomes apparent only from character’s point of view at different events.
4. The Bell Jar (1963) by Sylvia Plath
A semi-autobiographical story about a woman suffering from a mental disorder at a time when only little was known about mental disorders and shock-therapy was still in use for troubled people. The story revolves around a young woman who arrives in New York for working opportunities. The woman is a talented writer but succumbs to her mental illness.
5. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut
The author is a comic sage who has survived firebombings of Dresden as well as many tragedies in the family and defined a whole new genre: science-fiction satire. It is an anti-war novel belonging about World War II experiences and time-travel experiences of a soldier – Billy Pilgrim.
6. The Dice Man (1971) by Luke Rhinehart
This is a story of a psychiatrist who takes decisions based on roll of a die. This book is loosely based on the author’s own life. Since it contains chapters based on sexual experimentation, murder and rape, this novel has been banned in several countries.
7. Crash (1973) by JG Ballard
This is one of the classics of underground literature. The book is so gory that a reader suggested the publisher that the author is beyond psychiatric help. The story revolves around a TV Scientist who experiments sexual atrocities among crash victims.
8. Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson
One of the most influential sci-fi novels, this novel was the inspiration behind the film ‘The Matrix’. The concept of Cyberspace and Virtual Reality were introduced by this book.
9. American Psycho (1991) by Bret Easton Elis
The main protagonist Patrick Bateman is a Harvard alumnus. He works on the Wall Street at day and spends the nights doing ghastly things to young women. The book was very controversial when published and continues to be so, no wonder it has a cult following.
10. The Celestine Prophecy (1993) by James Redfield
This is the journey of a person to unravel nine spiritual insights on an ancient manuscript in Peru. The story is seen through the narrator’s point of view as he goes through a spiritual transition. The author’s intention originally was to write a parable but he made it a novel eventually.