While selecting from among big-list-best-sellers for the VFA bookstore, I grappled with the question: What books are appropriate to the visionary fiction category?
In order to resolve my query and narrow my choices, I relied on the expertise of three people familiar with the genre: John Alegeo, lecturer and writer in the Theosophical world; Hal Zina Bennett, PhD, Author-Publishing Consultant; and Talia Newland, Editor, Author, Publisher.
Books appropriate to the visionary fiction-VFA bookstore-category
- “Visionary fiction reveals aspects of this world that are sharply at variance with the common assumptions of the man-in-the-street about what his world is really like. It helps the reader to see the world in a new light, to recognize dimensions of reality that we commonly ignore. It transforms our vision of ourselves and our environment.” ~John Algeo
- “Visionary fiction reaches beyond the surface of things, touching the deeper mysteries of the human experience beyond ordinary, everyday consensual reality.” ~Hal Zina Bennett
- “Visionary fiction is more obviously ‘spiritual’ in nature and an individual’s movement towards self-actualization is a primary theme.” ~Tahlia Newland
At the time of this writing, the VFA bookstore lists over one hundred novels written by its members, many of whom have won awards and merit VFA recognition.
However, this post focuses on the visionary work of five best-selling authors generally known for their mastery of genres other than VF, such as mystery, suspense, even horror.
Some of the well-known authors who’ve ventured into “the visionary” may surprise you. Take for instance: Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic: 2017), Kazuo Ishiguro (The Buried Giant: 2016), Rebecca Serle (The Dinner List: 2018), John Updike (Of the Farm: 2004), James Hilton (Lost Horizon: 1933), and the following authors, whose work I’ve had the pleasure to read:
Best-selling VFA bookstore authors
The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:
I fell in love with this novel on page one. It gripped—really gripped—me to the end.
Back cover description: David Martín, a pulp fiction writer struggling to stay afloat, is holed up in a haunting abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, furiously tapping out story after story, becoming increasingly desperate and frustrated. When he is approached by a mysterious publisher offering a book deal that seems almost too good to be real, David leaps at the chance. But as he begins the work, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he realizes that there is a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home and that the publisher may be hiding a few troubling secrets of his own.
Favorite quote from the book: “A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.”
Keeping Faith, by Jodi Picoult
This novel leads readers into the world of the extraordinary in such a realistic and suspenseful way, they may find themselves believers.
Back cover description: “For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman, and Faith, their seven-year-old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith begins to confide in an imaginary friend. At first, Mariah dismisses these exchanges as a child’s imagination. But when Faith starts reciting passages from the Bible, develops stigmata, and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter—a girl with no religious background—might actually be seeing God.
Favorite quotes from the book: “This is 1999. Those things don’t happen anymore. Those phenomena get x-rayed and carbon-tested and scientifically proven to be fakes.”
“I’ve never believed that spirit comes from religion. It comes from deep inside each of us; it draws people to us. And your daughter has a lot of it.”
“The thing about having something hidden in your past is that you spend every minute of the future building a wall that makes the monster harder to see. You convince yourself that the wall is sturdy and thick, and one day, when you wake up and the horrible thing does not immediately jump into your mind, you give yourself the freedom to pretend that it is well and truly gone. Which only makes it that much more painful when something like this happens, and you learn that the concrete wall is really as transparent as glass, and twice as fragile.”
Drawing in the Dust, by Zoe Klein
Biblical times are brought into the modern world in an unexpected and thought-provoking journey via one of my favorite fields of study: archaeology.
Back cover description: Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone has toiled at Israel’s storied battlegrounds of Megiddo for twelve years, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed deliver the life-altering message she craves. Which is why she risks her professional reputation when a young Arab couple begs her to excavate beneath their home. Ibrahim and Naima Barakat claim the spirits of two lovers overwhelm everyone who enters with love and desire. As Page digs, she makes a miraculous discovery—the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of scrolls that challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet’s story and create a worldwide fervor.
Favorite quote from the book: “Midnight is the most intimate of instants. The most hollow, superstitious, lost-in-the-woods, something’s-in-the-attic moment of the day. Twelve is the knifepoint between the day’s deepest darkening and the commencement of its lightening, the kiss between the kingdom of the moon and the kingdom of the sun. It is a razor-breadth’s flash between despair and hope.”
Spirit Circle,by Hal Zina Bennett:
Hal is best known for his nonfiction books covering shamanism and Earth-centered spirituality, but this venture into visionary fiction is a suspenseful and thought-provoking winner.
Back cover description: When anthropologist Tara Fairfield gets a cryptic message from her long-lost father, a tabloid reporter who specializes in alien-abduction narratives, she sets off for his last known whereabouts: Coyote Mesa on the Zuni Indian reservation in New Mexico. It’s an odd place, complete with spotty cell-phone reception and local stories of witchcraft and flying saucers. Tara is soon besieged by uncanny experiences: strange images on motel TV sets; mesmerizing lights and episodes of lost time; apparitions of Katchinas, the eight-foot masked bird-men of Zuni myth; and visions of Hollywood heartthrob James Dean telling her that “the world you believe you have mastered is an illusion.”
Favorite quotes from the book: “These revelations echoed what she had been saying for years—that one day there would be evidence to show that the shamanic traditions on this continent predated both Christianity and Judaism by at least 2,000 years.”
“Who were these people? What magic did they invoke, allowing them to see beyond what scholar-philosopher William James had once described as the ‘filmy veil’ that separates everyday life from this other reality that theologians and spiritual leaders have been exploring for centuries.? And what records did these ancient shaman-priests leave behind? What artifacts? Somewhere out there, hidden even from probing aircraft, this ancient village, perhaps already buried under centuries of decaying adobe and desert dust, waited for her to pull back the veil and reveal its secrets.”
Life Expectancy, by Dean Koontz:
No one could be more surprised than I was to discover that “Dean Koontz: That guy with “horror” tattooed on his forehead,” also writes visionary fiction. Especially visionary fiction with humor.
Back cover description: The story of five days in the life of an ordinary man born to an extraordinary legacy—a story that will challenge the way you look at good and evil, life and death, and everything in between.
Favorite quotes from the book: “I wrote this to explain life to myself. The mystery. The humor, dark and light, that is the warp and weft of the weave. The absurdity. The terror. The hope. The joy, the grief. The God we never see except by indirection. In this I have failed.”
“I can’t explain the why of life, the patterns of its unfolding. I can’t explain it—but, oh, how I love it.”
“Insanity is not evil, but all evil is insane. Evil itself is never funny, but insanity sometimes can be. We need to laugh at the irrationality of evil, for in doing so we deny evil’s power over us, diminish its influence in the world, and tarnish the allure it has for some people.”
The VFA Bookstore
Nothing beats visionary fiction for feeding the mind and soul, especially when it comes from the pen of a master.
Check out the VFA bookstore by clicking the VFA Bookstore tab at the top of this page and enter the realm of the extraordinary.