Roald Dahl remains one of the most iconic writers for children books ever. But his creative genius was not limited to only children fictional series.
Combining the same power of imagination with a twisted thought process he wrote a series of adult stories that are definitely not for the faint-hearted – though they are for the connoisseur of good literature!
So, here are some of his finest adult novels that every fan of reading and Roald Dahl should definitely check out:
1. Man from the South
Like most of his works, this story is also narrated by a nameless narrator and leaves you contemplating the concept of ‘stranger danger’. A young boy and an old man meet for the first time at a Jamaican hotel. A brief discussion about the boy’s lighter and its capabilities leads to a strange bet, with life-threatening stakes and a bittersweet and slightly shocking end.
In this short story, Dahl turns into a master of suspense. However, the true genius of his writing is how he manages to bring out the inherent racism that affects his protagonist. Harry Pope – the protagonist – is caught in a peculiar situation where he thinks a snake has crept under him on his bed. Scared of being bitten, he seeks the help of Dr. Ganderbai – only to turn on the trusted doctor when he is questioned.
Mr. Schofield hosts a dinner party, and Mr. Pratt – a gourmet – is one of the regular guests. The two indulge in a long time bet where Mr. Pratt guesses the origin of the wine that Mr. Schofield serves – only this time the stakes are higher and the end is a revelation that is a relief for some of the guests and a rude awakening for Mr. Pratt. Though not as disturbing as the some of his other adult novels, this is still a fantastic tale to read – that perfectly highlights the patriarchal and classist setting of the time and society the story is set in.
4. The Way Up to Heaven
This is definitely not your average tale of couples in conflict. Mrs. Foster has an almost phobic fear of being late, and yet her husband can’t help but vex her. However, when his mischief almost gets her late to meet her daughter, there are deadly consequences for him.
5. William and Mary
Clearly, Mr. Dahl did not believe in marital bliss. But he definitely had a penchant for ghastly details and surprise (read shocking) endings as this story proves. The protagonist Mary is in for a surprise when she reads her dead husband’s will. Even though she is disgruntled at the fact that he is still trying to control her from beyond the grave, she follows his instructions – only to turn the tables and become the controller!
This is easily one of his most gruesome works ever – and one that may make even a hard-core non-vegetarian question his love for meat. An orphan, Lexington, is raised to be a strict vegetarian by an eccentric aunt. He grows up to be a wonderful cook, who tries pork for the first time after her death. Impressed by the taste, he goes on a journey to figure out how pork is made – but instead turns true the phrase, curiosity killed the cat.
7. Genesis and Catastrophe
Dahl proved with this story how wonderful an element irony really is. Klara has just delivered her third child – small in size but healthy. However, the death of her other two children has instilled in her a deep fear – leading her to pray hard for Adolph’s long life. And in a cruel twist, her child lives – only to let millions die.
8. Royal Jelly
If you love horror, then this is definitely a royal treat for you – especially because of Roald Dahl’s descriptive writing. The Taylor family are worried about their youngest daughter Mabel who is not eating or drinking anything. Albert – a fan of beekeeping – tries an ‘innovative’ way to help his daughter, and has miraculous results. But miracle soon turns to macabre when his wife discovers what exactly was his ‘magic cure’.
9. My Uncle Oswald
The novel is dedicated to “the greatest fornicator of all time”. Through the titular character, Dahl takes us through the life of a commercial sperm broker – and you believe in Nobel sperm bank and aphrodisiac powers of the Sudanese blister beetle just as easily as you believed in Oompa Loompas. The novel deals with erotic humor and the read is definitely worth the curiosity.
10. Lamb to the Slaughter
You have to give it to Roald Dahl – no one settles couples’ conflict like he does. Mary Maloney – the protagonist – is a dedicated wife and an expectant mother. However, when her husband tells her that he is leaving her, her dazed reactions lead to an unexpected crime – and a masterful cover-up.
If his children novels are the epitome of finding hope in the heart of adversity, his adult novels are a reflection of the darkest corners that dying humanity could reach. Clearly, Mr. Dahl was a genius like no other!