James Ivory: TOP TEN BOOKS


The American filmmaker and screenwriter James Ivory is best known for his partnership (both professional and personal) with Ismail Merchant, with whom he created 44 films, and an entire movie idiom, often based on literary classics. Merchant Ivory Productions garnered six Oscars, and Ivory himself has received four nominations, including for Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name, making him the second oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar.  “I’ve always liked to make things that were beautiful,” Ivory told The Daily Beast. “I wanted to create beauty. That was my main desire. I’m just glad those films have been found beautiful by many, many people. Political consequences have never really come into my thinking.”

Below are James Ivory’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


The Idiot

Fyodor Dostoyesvky
For its naïve Prince Myshkin, who Ruth Jhabvala said reminded her of me (which is apt, I guess).
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Three Continents

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
I wish Merchant Ivory had made it into a film, despite its terribly grim ending.
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Remembrance of Things Past

Marcel Proust
For helping to unlock for me the puzzle that is France whenever and wherever I’ve gone back to it in the last sixty years.
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Son of the Morning Star

Evan S. Connell
For its depiction of the Wild West of cowboys and Indians, and Custer’s Last Stand – very appealing to someone who grew up in the Wild West when it was still wild.
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Mrs. Bridge

Evan S. Connell
For its portrait of an American family like my own.
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A Passage to India

E.M. Forster
I have re-read over and over; the first fiction I read about the land where I began my life’s work.
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Marilynne Robinson
“Home” is the third novel of Marilynne Robinson who, in another age, President Obama invited to the White House so that he could talk to her.
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The Buried Giant

Kazuo Ishiguro
An awe-inspiring story of a symbolic England in King Arthur’s days.
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Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy
Simply the best novel I ever read.
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Sjeng Scheijen
The story of a great impresario who reminds me of my late partner, Ismail Merchant.
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