The 1980s was a wild decade, a time of serious cultural alterations all around the globe, a time when the world was already quite similar to what we see around today but also different in a number of ways. While the US has been going through some rebellious times in terms of culture, Europe has been going through revolts with many countries of Central and Eastern Europe rebelling against the communist rule and splitting from the USSR. With global events such as the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Chernobyl Disaster, and other critical events, people grew more and more disenchanted with the world around them. This, of course, found its representation in literature.
Today, we are going to take a look at some of the best books published between 1980 and 1989 and see what made then so good.
Let's get our list going with a graphic novel by Alan Moore that spawned a cult following and still remains one of the author's all-time masterpieces. A dark superhero story that tells the readers about a group of flawed heroes being dragged into a global conspiracy to stop the Cold War by killing millions of people. The novel explores such themes as what it means to be a hero, what it means to be human, what would it feel to be a literal god, what is a necessary sacrifice, and what is the price of the fragile peace. Clearly, the novel is inspired by the fear of the nuclear war as well as the desire to show what superheroes would be like if they were real. A must-read for anyone who enjoys dystopian scenarios and dark superhero stories. The novel was also made into an awesome movie called Watchmen, so you can watch it too.
Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of those books you've got to feel rather than understand. If you are not used to this kind of literature, you might be confused by it and feel kind of awkward after finishing it because that is not your classic love story. This book is about love that lasts no matter what, a love that stays in one's hard regardless of where they are and how much time goes by. Florentino and Fermina fall in love but then Fermina chooses to marry a wealthier man, so it took Florentino 50 more years and 622 affairs to get back to Fermina and confess his love once again. As said, this is not your usual love story, rather it is a statement to undying love that stays in our hearts no matter what.
It, the novel by the greatest master of horror Stephen King, is one of the most popular horror books out there, and with recent screen adaptations, its popularity has surged once more. Authored by the National Book Award and the Book Award Distinguished Contribution Medal Winner, Stephen King, the book tells us about a group of kids in a small town of Derry haunted by the ancient evil spirit that feeds on fear. The frightening being often called It haunts children while their parents remain blind to the terrifying truth. The '80s were a prolific decade for horror literature and cinema, so you might want to read more of King's works.
V for Vendetta
Another graphic novel by Alan Moore made it in our list, and for a good reason. Though it was published back in the '80s, this great book has never been more relevant than it is now. Similar tothe Handmaid's Tale book, V for Vendetta gives us a chilling picture of life in a dystopian society. V is the anti-hero whose goal is to avenge the cruelty against himself and challenge the totalitarian government by a series of terrorist attacks. Inspired by the image of Guy Fawkes, V puts on the mask and rebels against the government by destroying its property and eliminating its most ruthless leaders. An ingenious work by Alan Moore gives us yet another dark twist on what the actual hero would look like in real life.
The Remains of the Day
This book by Kazuo Ishiguro tells us a story of a man who served as a butler for most of his life, a man whose life was filled with events that reshaped the entire planet and did not only change his own life but the lives of everyone else around him. Stevens, the main character, takes a trip to have some rest, and a short story of one vacation turns into a story of a spiritual journey into one's past and a story of self-exploration. Stevens, a survivor of two world wars, reflects on his past and his true self. This is a kind of a meditative read, so you should approach it in the right mood.
The House on Mango Street
This collection of short stories about the life of a Latino girl growing up in Chicago, written by Sandra Cisneros is a really versatile read that would be suitable for children and adults alike. This is a magnificent book, different parts of which will resonate in the hearts of most readers regardless of their age. Some of these stories are deeply heartbreaking, the others are filled with childlike joy and happiness. If you've been craving an emotional read for some time, The House on Mango Street is the right thing for you.
The Joy Luck Club
The story of four Chinese immigrants mothers and their four daughters told by Amy Tan is as old as the world - the tale of loss, departure from home, decline of traditions, and change of values. The four immigrant women put all of their hopes and all of their joy into their daughters, and it is only with time that the daughters start to understand the struggles their mothers have been through.
The literature of the 1980s is much more than the books we listed here and you should totally read some of the European authors who birthed the post-post-modernism as well as the authors from all the other parts of the earth. The world has been through serious events back then, and it surely found its representation in literature. Apart from the impending breakdown of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, the Vietnam War failure, and all the major events, there also were many serious events happening on a local scale. These events influenced national literature significantly, so you might want to get deeper into your exploration of world literature.