William Faulkner Best Books 📚

William Faulkner uses a stream-of-consciousness style to give perspectives to the stories he tells in his books.

William Faulkner

American writer

William Faulkner is one of the foremost pioneers of modernism and the Southern Gothic style of writing. His works primarily center around the fictional Yoknapatawpha County based in his hometown of Mississippi.

The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner Digital Art
The Sound and the Fury Digital Art

William Faulkner wrote the modernist book ‘The Sound and the Fury,’ which was first published in 1929. The Compson family, a once illustrious, aristocratic Southern dynasty that has started to disintegrate and collapse, is the subject of the book. The narrative takes place in Jefferson, Mississippi, a fictional town created by Faulkner, in the early 20th century. Three of the Compson brothers and an omniscient third-person narrator each contribute a perspective to the story.

‘The Sound and the Fury’, which was ranked sixth on the Modern Library’s 1998 list of the top English-language novels of the 20th century, is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature. The book is renowned for its discontinuous, non-linear narrative structure and writing in the first person.

‘The Sound and the Fury’ has four separate narrators at four different moments in time, arranged into four parts or chapters.

Benjamin “Benjy” Compson, the youngest and most mentally handicapped of the Compson children, narrates the first section of The Sound and the Fury. Benjy’s portion has significant and somewhat jarring time and location leaps, spanning the years 1898 to 1928. Benjy’s condition prevents him from having a sense of time. Because of this, even though the majority of the first portion is composed of Benjy’s memories from various periods in the past, it is narrated as if the action is now taking place the entire time.

Quentin Compson, the eldest of the Compson children, narrates the second section of the book. The narrative in Quentin’s segment is non-linear and switches between the present and Quentin’s memories of the past, similar to Benjy’s piece.

Jason Compson, the third child of the Compson family, provides the narration for Part 3. After Mr. Compson’s passing, Jason became the family’s head. He works at a farm supply store and has a near-obsession with material wealth.

‘The Sound and the Fury’s’ conclusion is told from the perspective of an omniscient third person. Easter Sunday and Part 4 mostly focus on Dilsey Gibson, the black cook and servant for the Compsons.

As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner’s Southern Gothic, Modernist book ‘As I Lay Dying’ was first published in 1930. One of Faulkner’s most well-known works, it is frequently cited as one of the greatest books of the 20th century.

Like many of Faulkner’s books, this one is set in the fictitious Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi. To fulfill their mother’s dying wish to be buried in her hometown, the dysfunctional Bundren family travels for nine days with their wife and mother’s decaying bodies. The Bundrens struggle through a variety of setbacks along the way, such as floods, fires, and injuries, all while attempting to manage their complex family dynamics.

The book has fifty-nine chapters and is narrated by fifteen different people. ‘As I Lay Dying’s’ inner-monologue, first-person narration contributed to Faulkner’s reputation as a forerunner of modernist, stream-of-consciousness literature.

The phrase “As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyelids as I fell into Hades” is taken from a line in Homer’s ‘Odyssey.’ The traditional tale of a quest, which ‘As I Lay Dying‘ mocks by describing the Bundren family’s ultimately selfish and meaningless mission to bury Addie, is the most obvious comparison that this title makes between ‘As I Lay Dying‘ and ‘Odyssey.’

Absalom, Absalom!

American author William Faulkner published his book ‘Absalom, Absalom!’ in 1936. The main story, which takes place in 19th-century Mississippi, follows Thomas Sutpen, a poor white man from the West Virginian mountains who rebels against his family and his alcoholic father, endures a life-changing insult from a black servant, migrates to Haiti, and works as a plantation overseer, marries but finds out that his wife (and consequently their son, whom he rejects), are of mixed race, and then relocates to the Deep South in 1833 to transcend his lowly origins by building and running his own “Sutpen’s Hundred” empire, which was based on slavery.

The book received criticism from critics of the day for its difficulty, turgid language (which had some of the longest lines in literary history), and complicated, repetitive narration that provided varying levels of detail. Multiple narratives’ gaps and inconsistencies raise epistemological issues on how we know what we know about historical events.

Despite its complexity, this is regarded as Faulkner’s masterwork and one of the best pieces of American literature.


In his book ‘Sanctuary’, American novelist William Faulkner describes the rape and kidnapping of Temple Drake, a well-bred college student from Mississippi, during the Prohibition era. The subject of rape makes it one of his more contentious pieces.

The plot uses several subplots to investigate the characters’ relationships with one another and the rural cultures of Tennessee and Mississippi during Prohibition.

Light in August

The work, which is set in the author’s time in the interwar years, revolves around two strangers: a pregnant white woman and a white guy who passes for a white person but thinks he is of mixed race. The story illustrates how these two people are tied to another man who has profoundly influenced both of their lives through a sequence of flashbacks.

Faulkner addresses themes of race, sex, class, and religion in the American South in a free, unstructured modernist narrative style that borrows from Christian allegory and oral storytelling. He depicts the conflict between alienated people and a Puritanical, prejudiced rural society by focusing on characters who are misfits, outcasts, or otherwise excluded in their community.


Which of William Faulkner’s books is the best?

It is hard to say as he has a lot of brilliant masterpieces in his oeuvre. However, The Sound and the Fury is the consensus best according to critics.

Which of William Faulkner’s books is best to start with?

William Faulkner is notorious for writing in a very inaccessible and convoluted style. His short stories such as ‘A Rose For Emily’ are more accessible reads.

What is William Faulkner’s most critically acclaimed work?

It is ‘The Sound and the Fury’. It was ranked sixth in a list of the best English language books of the twentieth century.

Charles Asoluka
About Charles Asoluka
Charles is an experienced content creator, writer, and literary critic. He has written professionally for multiple reputable media organizations. He loves reading Western classics and reviewing them.
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