Books with conflict at the heart

Readers searching for books about conflict expect at least two opposing sides. That’s the starting point. The battle could be physical - the fight in the pub or the playground or the horrors of full-scale war. The clash of individuals, gangs, countries and cultures, is central to the development of the story. In other tales of strife, the conflict is emotional, maybe a family setting between parents and children, siblings, married couples and lovers.  Then there is the person divided with themself, experiencing inner turmoil; in a workplace, a school, a community. And some books track conflict on a huge scale – the conflict between people and nature or between human and divine. Wherever the setting and whatever the subject matter, the essence of these stories is the conflict – you want to know how it pans out, who gets to win, or lose, will there be reconciliation or resolution? In this selection you will find  amongst the personal tragedies, there is hint of something lighter, a bit stranger, of a world beyond our own. Plenty to choose from – so pick the struggle that works best for you.

Search books by Character & Plot

Blue Mars

Kim Stanley Robinson


Carmen Laforet

The Unquiet Dead

Ausma Zehanat Khan

Prince of Ayodhya

Ashok Banker


Ian McDonald


David Vann


Rose Tremain

Pillars of Salt

Fadia Faqir

Little Indiscretions

Carmen Posadas


Tess Gerritsen

The White Lioness

Henning Mankell

In the Pond

Ha Jin

Pleasures of the Flesh

Laurence Haloche

Water for Elephants

Sara Gruen

The Janissary Tree

Jason Goodwin

The Devil and Webster

Jean Hanff Korelitz

If You're Reading This I'm Already Dead

Andrew Nicoll

The Woman from Bratislava

Leif Davidsen

The Gift

David Flusfeder


Pierre Lemaitre

The White Bone

Barbara Gowdy


Rana Dasgupta

While the Gods Were Sleeping

Erwin Mortier

The Dinner

Herman Koch

The Tryst

Monique Roffey

Half a Life

V S Naipaul

The Town

Shaun Prescott


Laura Beatty


Nico Walker


Jill Alexander Essbaum

Scarlet Song

Mariama Ba

Brodeck's Report

Philippe Claudel

Daisy Jones and the Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid


Fiona Mozley

Cuban Heels

Emily Barr

The Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician

Tendai Huchu

The Round House

Louise Erdrich


Elmore Leonard

The Electric Church

Jeff Somers

Cold Granite

Stuart MacBride


Kelley Armstrong


Shusaku Endo

The Old Romantic

Louise Dean

Say You're One of Them

Uwem Akpan


John Wray

The Shape of Bones

Daniel Galera

Almost Strangers

Delsa Winer

The Mirror

Lynne Freed

Drifting House

Krys Lee

Broken April

Ismail Kadare