10 Novels That Will Disturb Even the Coldest of Hearts

[Editor’s note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we’re revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published May 18, 2011.] Jezebel-writer Anna North’s debut novel, America Pacifica, is out today. The story centers around an impoverished teenage girl who is struggling to survive on an increasingly toxic island in the Pacific Ocean after a future Ice Age sets in and freezes the mainland. Though the writing can be a little clunky — especially with respect to class issues — North provides good lens into the many ways an aggrieved soul can turn against the world, and how difficult it is to get back our dignity once we’ve lost it. With this in mind, we decided to run a post on books that expose the darker side of humanity — a roundup of the most disturbing novels and short stories through time, if you will.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

In this short story, a family gets in a car accident and encounters a godless trio led by an escaped convict known as “the Misfit.” Near the end of the story, the Misfit says, “Lady… there never was a body that give the undertaker a tip,” and every time we read this we can’t help but shiver a little.