No Longer Human (1948) is a work of semi-autobiographical novel by Japanese author Osamu Dazai.
Like many of his writings, it features a main character who suffers from psychological problems and also details the author’s descent into alcoholism and drug addiction.
If you’re interested in reading literature with similar themes, these 14 books like No Longer Human will offer what you’re looking for.
Books Like No Longer Human
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath, has the same feel as No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu because both novels have similar themes and characters.
Both novels are said to reflect the authors’ lives before their suicides since Dazai lived not long after the final serialization of No Longer Human, and Plath died within one month after The Bell Jar‘s publication.
In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath explores the breakdown of Esther Greenwood: young, brilliant, beautiful, and enormously talented.
As Esther’s mental state worsens, she becomes fixated on her own disintegration, which Plath conveys with such intensity that Esther’s neurosis becomes completely understandable and even rational.
This is an extraordinary accomplishment for which The Bell Jar has become a haunting American classic.
The Life of a Stupid Man by Akutagawa
If you liked Osamu Dazai’s writing, you might like The Life of a Stupid Man, an autobiographical tale about a man on the verge of suicide.
It’s written by Akutagawa Ryuunosuke, who was actually Osamu Dazai’s favorite author.
Three short stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa are included in this book version published by Little Black Classic.
The first story, called In A Bamboo Grove, retells a murder scenario solely through the eyes of witnesses and participants.
The second two stories, Death Register and The Life of A Stupid Man, are autobiographical and relate to the author’s death.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoievsky
Not very many books can claim to be as bleak and depressing as Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
It’s one of the books like No Longer Human because it also deals with a man who is trapped in his head which is not a nice place to be.
Crime and Punishment also touches on other themes, but it is older Russian literature, so you must get used to the author’s style before starting to appreciate it.
Crime and Punishment follows the moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student who plans to kill the unscrupulous pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna for her money.
He theorizes that with the money, he could liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds, but instead becomes racked with confusion, paranoia, and disgust as a result.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life has a pessimistic tone and characters. It’s an intense read that will make you cry, but undeniably a great book if you’re looking for books similar to No Longer Human.
To find more books like it, check out my previous recommendations about devastating books like A Little Life.
A Little Life follows four college classmates as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune.
While their relationships grow over the decades, they are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by unspeakable childhood trauma.
A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara reveals what it means to find family in those around us.
Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky
Notes from Underground is narrated in a similar style to No Longer Human.
The narrator is a nameless individual who lives on the margins of society.
He reveals that he gave up worldly life because he hated being part of society, not because he couldn’t fit in.
Notes from Underground is a very poignant account. It accurately reflects the feelings of a man who has been crushed and turned within himself.
The protagonist of Dostoevsky’s novel Notes from Underground is an underground man who has withdrawn from society.
The former official writes about his experiences in a passionate, obsessive, and contradictory manner.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
The narrator in Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata reminds me of Yozo in how she thinks and reacts to the world. However, unlike Yozo, she tries to blend in and be normal.
Convenience Store Woman is also a much lighter read, but it will complement No Longer Human well.
Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident, has never fit in anywhere. Nor has she ever felt at home with her family or at school.
At the age of eighteen, she begins working at a convenience store, and there, she finds peace and contentment in her life.
Keiko is happy at “Smile Mart” ― so much so that it’s difficult to distinguish where the store ends and she begins.
But when her coworkers and family members pressure her to get married and start a proper career, Keiko takes desperate action.
Nausea by Sartre
In Nausea, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre explores the nature of existence, the challenge faced by people who become aware of the absurdities of their lives, and how they deal with loneliness, transformation, and freedom.
Nausea is told in the form of a diary in which Antoine Roquentin catalogs his every feeling and sensation.
His thoughts culminate in a feeling like nausea — an overwhelming sense of despair at everything.
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
Even though it is less dark than No Longer Human, Ham on Rye makes it on the list because it’s also haunting and told as a semi-autobiographical novel.
In his best-known book, Bukowski tells the story of his own hardscrabble youth in America.
From a childhood marked by poverty and acne through his high school years and his later discovery of alcohol and women, Ham on Rye offers a raw, honest and often shocking portrait of an outsider’s coming-of-age during the Great Depression.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood is less depressing than No Longer Human, but they both have downtrodden main characters and melancholic themes.
Both books deal with loneliness, romantic longing, and death.
Toru is a serious young college student in Tokyo who adores Naoko, an introspective young woman, but they’ve both been hurt by the death of their best friend years ago.
As Naoko retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself drawn to Midori, a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Kafka’s Metamorphosis is one of the classics from this list of books like No Longer Human. His surreal writing style, which can be off-putting for modern readers, perfectly complements the story’s theme and setting.
Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself transformed into a large, monstrous insect-like creature.
In Kafka’s novella Metamorphosis, the travelling salesman struggles to adjust to his new condition as he deals with being burdensome to his family members, who are repulsed by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become.
The Stones Cry Out by Hikaru Okuizumi
Another one of the books like No Longer Human that I think you’ll enjoy is The Stones Cry Out. It’s the kind of book that stays with you for a long time after reading, just like Osamu Dazai’s work.
After a dying soldier teaches him how a small pebble contains the Earth’s history in its ephemeral matter, Tsuyoshi Manase marries and becomes the father of two sons.
But what consoles him most is collecting stones, and he enjoys this quiet life until horrible violence visits his family, and he must confront the violent past that haunts him to survive.
The Stones Cry Out is the story of an amateur geologist and bookseller who must face his past to survive the violence of the present.
Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki
Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki is a classic piece of Japanese literature. It has strong themes of isolation and introspection, which are equally harrowing to the experience of reading No Longer Human.
In the novel Kokoro, author Soseki Natsume explores the delicate matter of the different meanings people attach to a relationship.
The book discusses friendship, family relationships, and how men attempt to escape their fundamental loneliness.
Throughout its length, Kokoro sustains something like poetry, which is rich in understanding and insight.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a quick read, much like No Longer Human. Both books offer strength amount of bleakness and despair.
In The Road, a father and son walk through a destroyed America, where nothing moves but ash on the wind.
It is so cold that stones crack. When it snows, it’s grey. The sky is dark.
Their destination is the coast, but they don’t know what awaits them there.
They only have a pistol to defend themselves against lawless bands that stalk the road, clothes for warmth, food for survival — and each other.
Apartment by Teddy Wayne
Apartment by Teddy Wayne is a portrait of the loneliness one may feel in the big city.
Although it’s more contemporary than No Longer Human, it also hits on themes of isolation and estrangement.
Apartment tells the story of two students in a writing program at Columbia University.
The unnamed narrator is from a wealthy family and lives in an illegal sublet of a rent-stabilized apartment.
He offers his spare bedroom rent-free to Billy, another student who is talented and charismatic but also poor and struggling to make ends meet.
Although their living arrangement initially seems like a good idea, it ultimately causes problems for both men because of their radically different upbringings.
Each of the novels above tackles dark and disturbing subject matter, giving them some similarity to No Longer Human.
However, each has character development, plot structure, and an overall story arc that makes them unique in their own right. Some are also heart-wrenching tragedies that may leave you sobbing by the conclusion.
I hope you enjoyed my list of books like No Longer Human and find books that pique your interests!