Tropic of Cancer

Henry Miller


First published in 1961, Tropic of Cancer led to an obscenity trial that was one of several that tested American laws on pornography in the 1960s. While famous for its frank and often graphic depictions of sex, the book is also widely regarded as an important masterpiece of 20th century literature.

Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Set in France (primarily Paris) during the 1930s, it is the tale of Miller’s life as a struggling writer. Combining fiction and autobiography, some chapters follow a strict narrative and refer to Miller’s actual friends, colleagues, and workplaces; others are written as stream-of-consciousness reflections.

Written in the first person, as many of Miller’s other novels, Tropic of Cancer fluctuates between past and present tense. There are many passages explicitly describing the narrator’s sexual encounters, but the book does not solely focus on the subject.

301 pages; first Russian edition, hardcover