Flaubert's Sentimental Education was all about a conceited ass with a smattering of Wertheresque angst who goes on to ignore the great events of his times, aware only of his own vanity as reflected in farcical forays into public life and business and a series of grotesque love affairs. No one else comes off especially well either, and the ones who do seem to have a smideeon of humanity either die, or subside into lives of bitter failure. Not very optimistic, then.
The Eagle's Throne by Carlos Fuentes was surprisingly gripping for what is mainly a political thriller.
Japan's Gonin-Ish is crazy and very cool.