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- El Lazarillo de Tormes is generally considered the first of this genre.
- Don Quixote has some elements of this genre and is seen as picareque by non-Spanish speakers for its episodic plot and its Nested Story sequence. Spanish-speakers feel it's more an inversionnote .
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Moll Flanders
- A Confederacy of Dunces
- Confessions of Felix Krull
- The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance
- Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
- The Gentleman Bastard series
- Simplicius Simplicissimus (the English title of Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus), one of the earliest true novels in the German language.
- The Unfortunate Traveller: or, the Life of Jack Wilton (1594) by Thomas Nashe.
- Cloud Atlas: Somni describes 'The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish' as such.
- Life of Pi
- The Satyricon
- ''Fly by Night'' and ''Fly Trap/Twilight Robbery'' by Frances Hardinge
- The Rincewind books in the Discworld series. Rincewind is basically just a selfish coward who travels around trying to survive the weird stuff happening around him.
- The Simpsons has many elements of the picaresque genre: Both Homer and Bart are notorious underperformers who avoid hard work and shirk their duties whenever possible, are generally irresponsible, treat their fellow men shabbily and take refuge to lies when it suits them, all the while being not especially bright. Yet they somehow always manage to avoid all serious consequences of their foolishness or egoism and are likable characters despite their many flaws.