William Gaddis

William Gaddis was an American novelist known for his complex, satirical style of writing. He is often cited as one of the foremost innovators of the 'maximalist' trend in fiction. His notable works include 'The Recognitions' and 'J R', the latter of which won the National Book Award. Gaddis's work is characterized by its dense, allusive prose and the critique of American capitalism and culture.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. The Recognitions

    The novel is a complex and lengthy examination of authenticity and forgery. It tells the story of a young man who becomes a master forger of Old Masters paintings, while exploring themes of identity, religion, and art. As the plot unfolds, the protagonist grapples with his own authenticity in a world obsessed with appearances and material success. The narrative is interspersed with philosophical and religious discussions, making it a challenging yet thought-provoking read.

  2. 2. JR

    The novel is a satirical critique of capitalism, narrating the story of an 11-year-old boy who builds a vast financial empire from his school's payphone. Using the adults around him as pawns, he manipulates the system to his own advantage, turning junk bonds into high profits. The narrative unfolds almost entirely through dialogue, making it a challenging but rewarding read. The book is a commentary on the American dream, exploring themes of greed, exploitation, and the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.

  3. 3. A Frolic of His Own

    The novel explores the complex and often absurd world of American law and litigation. The protagonist is a retired law professor who is embroiled in multiple lawsuits, including one against himself. The narrative is filled with legal documents, depositions, and court transcripts, which serve to critique the convoluted and often nonsensical nature of the legal system. The book also satirizes the American obsession with wealth and property, and the lengths people will go to protect their own interests.