Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Naked Lunch: The Restored Text Paperback – January 26, 2004

3.2 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews

See all 20 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Paperback, January 26, 2004
$1.98 $0.01

New in Thrillers
The Obsidian Chamber (Agent Pendergast series)
The Obsidian Chamber (Agent Pendergast series)
The Obsidian Chamber (Agent Pendergast series)
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


“A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire.” —Newsweek

“Ever since Naked Lunch…William S. Burroughs has been ordained America’s most incendiary artist.” –Los Angeles Times

“A book of great beauty . . . . Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.” —Norman Mailer

“A great, an essential novel…[that] prefigures much that has occurred in history, the popular media and high and low culture in the past four decades.” –The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)

“A creator of grim fairy tales for adults, Burroughs spoke to our nightmare fears and, still worse, to our nightmare longings. . . . And more than any other postwar wordsmith, he bridged generations; popularity in the youth culture is greater now than during the heady days of the Beats.” —Douglas Brinkley, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Naked Lunch will leave the most amoral readers slack-jawed; and yet a trek beneath the depraved surface reveals interweaving caverns that ooze unsettling truths about the human spirit. . . . In the same galloping, lyrical way Walt Whitman celebrated democratic toilers of all stripes, Burroughs gleefully catalogs totalitarian spoilers and criminal types—be they human or monster, psychological or pharmacological.” —Mark Luce, The Kansas City Star

“[Naked Lunch] made Burroughs’s reputation as a leader of the rebels against the complacency and conformity of American society. . . . An outrageous satire on the various physical and psychological addictions that turn human beings into slaves. . . . Burroughs’s vision of the addict’s life, by which we may infer the lives of all of us in some sense, is a vicious death-in-life of unrelieved abnegation, utter enervation and baroque suffering. Dante could not have envisioned such a post-Holocaust, post-apocalyptic circle of hell.” —Frederic Koeppel, The Commercial Appeal

“An absolutely devastating ridicule of all that is false, primitive, and vicious in current American life: the abuses of power, hero worship, aimless violence, materialistic obsession, intolerance, and every form of hypocrisy.” —Terry Southern

“Only after the first shock does one realize that what Burroughs is writing about is not only the destruction of depraved men by their drug lust, but the destruc­tion of all men by their consuming addictions . . . He is a writer of great power and artistic integrity engaged in a profoundly meaningful search for true values.” —John Ciardi

Praise for William Burroughs:

“Of all the Beat Generation writers, William S. Burroughs was the most dangerous. . . . He was anarchy's double agent, an implacable enemy of conformity and of all agencies of control-from government to opiates.” —Rolling Stone

“William was a Shootist. He shot like he wrote—with extreme precision and no fear.” —Hunter S. Thompson

About the Author

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS (1914 1997) was the author of numerous novels, including Nova Express, The Ticket That Exploded, The Soft Machine, and The Wild Boys, and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. JAMES GRAUERHOLZ was Burroughs s longtime secretary and editor. BARRY MILES has been involved for years with Beat literature as a scholar and participant. Among his books are The Beat Hotel and biographies of Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (January 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140180
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jessica Lux on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
This edition of the classic Burroughs text has has textual errors corrected by Burroughs scholar Barry Miles and Burroughs's longtime personal secretary James Grauerholz. In addition to presenting the text, this book includes a comprehensive essay on the process which brought Naked Lunch to publication (Kerouac and Ginsberg were heavily involved), as well as details on the editors' process of generated the restored text. The book concludes with additional fragments of writing by Burroughs which expand on some of the chapters of the novel.

The text is a narrative (in the absolute loosest sense of the term) about a narcotics addict who flees New York to travel through the Southern US, Mexico, South America, and into North Africa. It opens with clear paragraphs and a fairly typical storytelling structure and then disintegrates into stream of consciousness notes (of a drug addict) full of ellipsis points. The book moves from a literal world to a fantastic illusionary place of demons, people with mold growing on their bodies, transparent addicts, and rampant orgies of anal sex.

Is it an easy read? No. Is it a novel? Definitely not. It is, however, and important cultural read and an amazing book about being under the influence of drugs. If you don't get too far with the main text, before you toss the book away, be sure to check out the open letter from Burroughs to the medical community about addiction and treatment for a wide range of drugs (it appears at the end of both the original and restored editions). That essay is clearly written and very informative.
Comment 66 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I bought Naked Lunch because of a friend of mine who was a Burroughs fan (I suppose you could say Burroughs junky). I had no idea what the book was about, and I knew nothing about the author. These probably weren't the most favorable conditions to be introduced to a book like Naked Lunch. In other words, I wasn't ready to read it.

I hated the first 20 pages of Naked Lunch. I wasn't yet used to the writing style... Burroughs uses a lot of obscure and unobvious slang, and a lot of similes and metaphors that don't seem to make sense. It's mostly sentence fragments. As I read, though, I kind of got used to the style. It didn't seem so frustrating any more; it was an enigma, and it was cool on top of that. The last half of the book is a lot more fun, anyway.

The bizzareness of Naked Lunch is probably what saved it for me, though. It's chock full of drugs and drug use. Most of the characters are gay, and some of them seem to be insane. There's an upper class eccentric who destroys social events and establishments, a man who used to be president of an island where the position of president is ridiculed, and a man who pumps his mental patients full of drugs. The book is sort of an allegory of Burrough's own life, and if you read about him you can see a lot of the parallels.

There's a lot of people I wouldn't recommend Naked Lunch to. In fact, I don't think I personally know anyone who I'd recommend it to. None of the people I know could stand it. They're all too sane. All the people out there who are obsessed with this book have got to be insane. Or just really smart, I guess. I'm dumb and sane. I still happened to like it, though.
2 Comments 107 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback


this book, wow, this book, is f****** amazing. I've read Howl, I've read On The Road (excellent by the way), I've read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Kingdom of Fear, The Rum Diary, and such by Hunter S. Thompson. I feel like the other beats were building up to this, and HST was impossible WITHOUT William S. Burroughs. Naked Lunch is a masterpiece. I don't think there is another book like it, so full of invention, creativity, like a zoo of freaks or a jungle of mountain lions. Be afraid, be very afraid, this is not for middle schoolers, nor even high schoolers (Burroughs himself obviously inspired by Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World). I would even say that college might be a bit too soon (most of my peers were idiots (unless it was a philosophy class [hey ho!])): "that's too much reading!"

No, Naked Lunch is something I have spent time building up to. I have spent time with counter-cultureists and know their style. I read maybe a quarter of Ulysses, and while that was way harder, Naked Lunch also induced headaches. I wouldn't say someone should just jump into it in terms of literary retrospective, but in terms of imagination, the novel is in a class all its own.

Some are going to really dislike the use of sex. Some are going to really dislike the mention of drugs. Some will just hate the inventive use of language that is more like a poem and a riddle than an essay. I say dive in! Why not just go with it? Don't feel like you have to read Naked Lunch to get onto the next thing, read it like a fine wine, taking in a little bit here and there. After all, Burroughs spent at least a decade getting Lunch complete. Tolstoy wrote War and Peace in pieces over two and a half years. Joyce wrote Ulysses over about the same time Burroughs took.
Read more ›
6 Comments 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure how to digest "Naked Lunch" let alone write a review about it. Burroughs' text is one of the most important to come out of the Beats, yet it's hard to read and didn't leave me with any sense of satisfaction. The novel is a true example of a novel driven purely by style and form and I think it hurst the overall vision of the text. I understand that the cut and splice and often tangential writing is meant to recreate a junk addicts perspective, yet at the end of the day, if nothing comes out of the text other than "some of the anecdotes were really something," it's hard to say how successful the novel is. Did I like it? At times. Did I enjoy reading it? Somewhat. I most certainly think it's a novel that has an important place in American History and within American Literature, but I don't think it stands up to "On the Road" and some of the other texts to come out of the Beat Generation.
5 Comments 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: classic literature, classics literature, psychological thriller