14 Disturbing Novels That’ll Leave You Feeling Filthy

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Some great novels are either admired and loved by readers or are just hated. Most of the time that is because the pornographic elements or the use of violent language make us too uncomfortable to “enjoy” them. However, they certainly have a special place in literature. Here are 14 novels to make you, to say the least, a bit disturbed.

1. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory is the first novel by Scottish writer Iain Banks, published in 1984. The Wasp Factory is written from a first person perspective, told by 17-year-old Francis Cauldhame ("Frank"), describing his childhood and all that remains of it. Frank observes many shamanistic rituals of his own invention, and it is soon revealed that Frank killed three children before he reached the age of ten. Frank occupies his time with rituals and maintaining an array of weapons (a small catapult, pipe bombs, and a crude flamethrower) for killing small animals around the island and the coastline, and building dams. He goes for long walks to patrol the island, and occasionally gets drunk with his only friend, a dwarf named Jamie, in the local pub. Otherwise Frank has almost no contact with the outside world. He is haunted by the memory of a dog attack in his youth, which resulted in the loss of his genitalia. He resents others for his impotence, particularly women...

2. The 120 Days of Sodom - Marquis de Sade

The 120 Days of __Sodom, or the School of Libertinage is a novel by the French writer Marquis de Sade. Described as both pornographic and erotic, it was written in 1785. It tells the story of four wealthy male libertines who resolve to experience the ultimate sexual gratification in orgies. To do this, they seal themselves away for four months in an inaccessible castle in the heart of the Black Forest, with a harem of 46 victims, mostly young male and female teenagers, and engage four female brothel keepers to tell the stories of their lives and adventures. The women's narratives form an inspiration for the sexual abuse and torture of the victims, which gradually mounts in intensity and ends in their slaughter. The work went unpublished until the early twentieth century. In recent times it has been translated into many languages, including English, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, and German. It remains a highly controversial book, having been banned by some governments due to its explicit nature and themes of sexual violence and extreme cruelty, but remains of significant interest to students and historians.

3. Pet Sematary - Stephen King

Pet Sematary is a 1983 horror novel nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1984.

Louis Creed, a doctor from Chicago, is appointed as the director of the University of Maine's Campus Health Service. He moves to a large house near the small town of Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their two young children, Ellie and Gage, and Ellie's cat, Church. From the moment they arrive, the family runs into trouble: Ellie hurts her knee after falling off a swing, and Gage is stung by a bee. Their new neighbor, an elderly man named Jud Crandall, comes to help. He warns Louis and Rachel about the highway that runs past their house; it is constantly used by speeding trucks...

4. The Sea of Fertility - Yukio Mishima

The Sea of Fertility is a tetralogy of novels written by the Japanese author Yukio Mishima. The four novels are Spring Snow (1969), Runaway Horses (1969), The Temple of Dawn (1970), and The Decay of the Angel (1971). The series, which Mishima began writing in 1964 and which was his final work, is usually thought of as his masterpiece. Its title refers to the Mare Fecunditatis, a lunar mare.
The main timeline of the story stretches from 1912 to 1975. The viewpoint of all four books is that of Shigekuni Honda, a law student in Spring Snow who eventually becomes a wealthy retired judge in The Decay of the Angel. Each of the novels depicts what Honda comes to believe are successive reincarnations of his schoolfriend Kiyoaki Matsugae, and Honda's attempts to save them from the early deaths of which they seem to be condemned by karma.

5. The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosiński

The Painted Bird is a controversial 1965 novel by Jerzy Kosinski which describes World War II as seen by a boy, considered a "Gypsy or Jewish stray," wandering about small towns scattered around Poland.

The book describes the wandering boy's encounters with peasants engaged in all forms of sexual and social deviance such as incest, bestiality and rape, and in other forms of extreme violence exciting lust.

6. Snuff - Chuck Palahniuk

Cassie Wright, the porn priestess, intends to cap her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication on camera, with six hundred men. Snuff unfolds through the perspectives of Mr. 600, Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Perrell's personal assistant, Sheila. With his satirical narrative and thorough research, Chuck Palahniuk reveals through these four characters the little-known facts and histories of not only pornography and sexual deviance, but also acting and life in and out of the spotlight, and throughout the novel shows the rarely acknowledged presence of pornography in modern America.

7. Story of the Eye - Georges Bataille

Story of the Eye is a 1928 novella by Georges Bataille that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers. It is narrated by the young man looking back on his exploits.

Story of the Eye consists of several vignettes, centered around the sexual passion existing between the unnamed late adolescent male narrator and Simone, his primary female partner. Within this episodic narrative, two secondary figures emerge Marcelle, a mentally ill sixteen-year-old girl who comes to a sad end, and Lord Edmund, a voyeuristic English émigré aristocrat. Simone and the narrator first consummate their lust on a beach near their home and involve Marcelle within their activity. The couple are exhibitionists, copulating within Simone's house in full view of her mother. During this second episode, Simone derives pleasure from inserting hard and soft-boiled eggs for her vaginal and anal stimulation; she also experiences considerable enjoyment from the viscosity of various liquids.

8. Animal Rights and Pornography - Eric Miller

J. Eric Miller grew up in a cabin in the woods of Colorado. That experience of silence, darkness, and depth is evident throughout the stories in this book. Typical is "Invisible Fish," in which a night clerk in a mall pet store tortures the animals at night. Dumbfounded, the store owners bludgeon to death a chimpanzee, the only animal in the store they imagine is capable of such atrocities.

9. In the Miso Soup - Ryū Murakami

It is just before New Years, Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is, in fact, the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.

10. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert - scholar, aesthete and romantic - has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady's gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs. Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heartbreaking, and full of ingenious wordplay, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion, and lust.

11. Naked Lunch - William S. Burroughs

Naked Lunch (sometimes The Naked Lunch) is a novel by William S. Burroughs originally published in 1959. The book is structured as a series of loosely connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the US to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone. The vignettes (which Burroughs called "routines") are drawn from Burroughs' own experience in these places, and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, "Majoun"—a strong marijuana confection—as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently).

The novel was included in Time magazine's "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005". In 1991, David Cronenberg released a film of the same name based on the novel and other Burroughs writings.

12. The Torture Garden - Octave Mirbeau

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Following the twin trails of desire and depravity to a shocking, sadistic paradise - a garden in China where torture is practiced as an art form - a dissolute Frenchman discovers the true depths of degradation beyond his prior bourgeois imaginings. Entranced by a resolute Englishwoman whose capacity for debauchery knows no bounds, he capitulates to her every whim amid an ecstatic yet tormenting incursion of visions, scents, caresses, pleasures, horrors, and fantastic atrocities.

13. Battle Royale - Koushun Takami

Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan - where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller - Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the English language.

14. Wetlands - Charlotte Roche

Partly autobiographical, it was first published in German in 2008 and was the world's best-selling novel in March 2008. For supporters it is a piece of erotic literature; for critics, it is cleverly marketed pornography. It was published in English as Wetlands by Grove Press in April 2009. The title, which might be translated as "wetlands" or "damp areas," here refers to a woman's genitals.

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