Our Favourite Literary Fathers

With Father's Day quickly approaching, let's take a look into some of literature’s most memorable fathers from some of our favourite books. Instinctively paternal, protective, with an endless capacity for love, these literary father figures are definitely unforgettable.


How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Dr. Cliff Miyashiro arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue his recently deceased daughter's research, only to discover a virus, newly unearthed from melting permafrost. From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead, How High We Go in the Dark follows a cast of intricately linked characters spanning hundreds of years as humanity endeavours to restore the delicate balance of the world. This is a story of unshakable hope that crosses literary lines to give us a world rebuilding itself through an endless capacity for love, resilience and reinvention.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual nine-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife. Robin is a warm, kind boy who spends hours painting elaborate pictures of endangered animals. With its soaring descriptions of the natural world and its account of a father and son’s ferocious love, Bewilderment asks: What is the world, at once perilous and imperilled, we've left for our children to inhabit, and can Theo save Robbie from it?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

In a burned-out America, a father and his young son walk under a darkened sky, heading slowly for the coast. They have no idea what, if anything, awaits them there. The landscape is destroyed, nothing moves save the ash on the wind and cruel, lawless men stalk the roadside, lying in wait. Attempting to survive in this brave new world, the young boy and his protector have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves. They must keep walking. Cormac McCarthy boldly divines a future without hope, but one in which, miraculously, this young family finds tenderness.

Meanwhile In Dopamine City by DBC Pierre

It's a big bad world out there, in Dopamine City. All Lonnie Cush wants is to keep his kids safe. But Shelby-Ann - his little girl, the maddening apple of his eye - has other ideas: Shelby-Ann wants her first smartphone. So new realities are rocketing their way and everything will change. Until Lonnie finds himself in a stitch: he'll have to join this new world, or wither in it. Or can he mastermind a vanishing act? The story of a hapless father's love and loss, and a speedball, starburst satire, Meanwhile in Dopamine City is a passionate, freewheeling work.

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

Rami and Bassam live in the city of Jerusalem - but exist worlds apart, divided by an age-old conflict. And yet they have one thing in common. Both are fathers; both are fathers of daughters - and both daughters are now lost. When Rami and Bassam meet, and tell one another the story of their grief, the most unexpected thing of all happens: they become best of friends. And their stories become one story, a story with the power to heal - and the power to change the world.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

'Shoot all the Bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird.' Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel--a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy.

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key... The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open? So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful examination of how we live and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Following a father and his young son on a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest, to complete the Chautauqua spiritual journey, it is a story of love, fear, growth, discovery and acceptance. Both personal and philosophical, it is a compelling study of relationships, values, and eventually, enlightenment and meaning - resonant with the confusions and wonders of existence.

Grief Is A Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother's sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him.

Stories Of Fatherhood edited by Diana Secker Tesdell

Stories of Fatherhood gathers more than a century of classic short stories about having, becoming, loving, and losing fathers. Frank O’Connor’s hilarious tale of a tiny boy’s war against his paternal rival sits beside Ann Packer’s touching portrait of a man preparing for the wonder and terror of his first child’s birth. E. L. Doctorow’s young protagonist, forced to write letters impersonating his dead father, arrives at a deeper understanding of him, while in Helen Simpson’s “Sorry?” an old man’s hearing aid seems to reveal what his children secretly think about him. In these twenty stories, an array of great writers—ranging from Kafka, Joyce, and Nabokov to Raymond Carver, Harold Brodkey, and Andre Dubus—offers a wonderfully varied assortment of fictional takes on paternity.