Expert’s view

Rachel Kushner: my five best books

The US novelist chooses her favourite reads

The Hard Crowd, the first collection of essays by Rachel Kushner, is published by Jonathan Cape. She is speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 17 August (edbookfest.co.uk)

The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon (1967)

This masterpiece of “new photojournalism” portrays members of an outlaw motorcycle club from Chicago and gives a sense of their lives in a time of great upheaval. There’s an honesty and beauty in the moments Lyon captures, no doubt on account of his commitment to understand rather than judge. Also, the women in the Bikeriders are my attitude and fashion idols. Their hair is pretty good, too. Aperture £25.95

Angels by Denis Johnson (1983)

I write about Johnson in my latest book, and I say what I want to say about him and this dirty and perfect first novel, which continues to glow, outlasting its moment and joining the pantheon of “all time”. So I am hesitant to add much. Vintage £9.99

Practicalities by Marguerite Duras (1987)

This book of “life advice” by the queen of French letters was “told to” a friend of her son’s, then transcribed, edited and turned into a unique book. It includes bald confessions about her struggles with alcoholism and advice for other women: those who can’t do home repairs are “useless”. So, I’m useless, which leaves me more time to read Duras. Grove Press £14.47

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust (1919)

Reading the recently re-discovered early drafts where the character Marcel first spies Albertine – strutting with golf clubs, a “moderne” and exciting and vulgarly middle-class co-ed – reminded me how much I love this volume of Proust. Penguin £9.99

Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan (2004)

So, it’s pretty dumb that Dylan won a Nobel Prize, given that musicians get plenty of wealth and fame and it’s a prize for writers. But I really loved reading this and taking note of all the singers he admired. Word is he made a lot of it up. But that’s okay. When people lie they are telling you something. Simon & Schuster £10.99

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