Anti-Hero Novels

These novels have heroes that aren’t completely likable or moral, antiheroes who lack conventional good qualities or possess some undesirable qualities.

Novels with Antiheroes

Gone with the Wind | Margaret Mitchell

Scarlet O’Hara is a young, spoiled Southern belle living at Tara, her family’s plantation. She is in love with Ashley Wilkes, who is interested in her friend Melanie. Rhett Butler is a handsome gentleman but a bit of an outcast, with some scandal around him. He takes an interest in Scarlett, and they have a hostile relationship. Eventually, the Civil War reaches Tara, disrupting Scarlett’s life and plans.

Read “Gone with the Wind”

Moll Flanders | Daniel Defoe

Moll is born in a London prison and is raised first by gypsies and then a woman who trains orphans for a life of service. Moll is determined not to be a servant; she wants to make money and rise in the world. She is drawn to men who can offer her money, and she schemes to marry them. She also steals to support herself.

Read “Moll Flanders”

The Maltese Falcon | Dashiell Hammett

A beautiful woman, Miss Wonderly, goes to the Spade & Archer Detective Agency and asks Miles Archer to follow a man named Floyd Thursby. His partner, Sam Spade, is informed that night that Archer has been shot. The police question him. He goes looking for Miss Wonderly. Shortly after, Joel Cairo come to see Spade and offers him five thousand dollars to find a bird statue.

Read “The Maltese Falcon”

The Godfather | Mario Puzo

Vito Corleone is the head of America’s most powerful crime family. After he refuses to get involved with drugs, an assassination attempt is made on him. This prompts his youngest son, Michael, who has heretofore stayed out of the family business, to seek revenge.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Philip K. Dick

After a war the earth is covered with radioactive dust and many plants and animals are extinct. Lots of people have moved to Mars. Real and artificial animals are expensive. Androids are given to the Mars colonists to serve as slaves, and sometimes they rebel and flee to earth. A bounty hunter, Rick Deckard, is assigned to find and “retire” six escaped androids.

Read “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love | Oscar Hijuelos

Cesar Castillo stays at a hotel, drinking and listening to his band’s music. Cesar and his brother, Nestor, formed the Mambo Kings, building slowly until 1955 when they filmed a spot on I Love Lucy as Ricky’s cousins. There was a lot of drama in their relationships and personal lives.

The Last King of Scotland | Giles Foden

Garrigan is a Scottish physician who goes to Uganda to work at a small clinic. It is reported that Major-General Amin has taken over the presidency. There is civil unrest as rebels who support the former president make raids. Garrigan is called to the scene of an accident involving President Amin; he asks Garrigan to become his personal physician.

Schindler’s List | Thomas Keneally

Oskar Schindler is a Czech-born factory owner, charming, and a womanizer. When the reality of the Holocaust becomes evident, he risks everything to try to save the lives of his Jewish workers. Interspersed thru this narrative are stories about various people before, during, and after the war.

On the Road | Jack Kerouac

Sal Paradise, a young man working on his first novel, and Dean Moriarty, a charismatic con man who lives in the moment, travel across America seeking pleasures and rebelling against society’s standards.

Seize the Day | Saul Bellow

Tommy Wilhelm is in his mid-forties. Years earlier he had tried to become a movie star, but now he is unemployed, poor, and separated from his wife. He argues with his father, who is ashamed of him. Tommy put his last bit of money into stocks, and he’s worried about losing it.

The Sea-Wolf | Jack London

Humphrey Weyden gets pressed into service aboard the Ghost, a schooner captained by Wolf Larsen, a brutish fighter who also reads philosophy and poetry. Humphrey is a gentleman, not used to physical work. He adjusts to the rough environment, and has some thought provoking conversations with Larsen. The ship’s mission is to hunt seals for their skins.

Read “The Sea-Wolf”