Beyond Literary Landscapes—Post-War Novels

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


In this week’s column, I focus on—what have been termed—post-war novels.

These novels focus on the lives of characters following various types of catastrophic wars that left the geographical areas devastated, as well as negatively affecting individuals.  Indeed, many of the characters in these novels were left feeling a sense of disconnect, apathy, bleakness, and fear.

Authors well known for post-war novels include Michael Ondaatje, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Heller, J.D. Salinger, and Khaled Hossieni.


Novels focusing on post-war experiences include The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, Mrs.  Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.


These novels are set throughout the United States, Great Britain, Italy, and Afghanistan.


These works are set in the 19, 20, and 21-centuries.


Post-war novels may appeal specifically to ENGL students who are also taking or interested in POLI, SOCI, PSYC, and HIST courses.  These novels may be of particular interest to learners who would like to learn about the historical, political, and sociological causes—and aftermath of war—as well as its effects on the human psyche.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to the post-war experience are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these specific courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in HIST 367: The Second World War, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “provide[s] a fuller understanding of the events and attitudes of the war years and of some of the arguments that are very much alive today concerning what really happened in that vital decade of 1937 to 1947.” (Please note that while this course does not require prerequisites, HIST 202: The West from the Enlightenment to the 21st Century and HIST 216: Europe, 1618-1939: From the Thirty Years’ War to the Age of Dictators are both recommended.  At the time of publication, this course was currently closed for revision).

In addition, student may consider SOCI 339: Sociology of War & Armed Conflict, another senior-level, three-credit course, which “is the study of war as a social process involving social institutions, social structures, and the socially learned behaviour of individual social actors.”  While this course does not require perquisites, SOCI 287: Introduction to Sociology I is recommended.  Happy reading!