The world of work -- so defining in most lives -- is rather underrepresented in literary fiction. However, there are some honorable, and even brilliant, excursions.
Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
The car salesman. The longeurs and the accountancy deceits are beautifully wrought. Rabbit's shafting by a Toyota rep, Mr. Shimada, defines a time in the 1980s of American industrial nervousness.
Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn
The journalist. Frayn is perhaps England's greatest comic writer. Grubby, compromised hacks haven't been done better since Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop." (The book was also published with the title "Against Entropy.")
The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle
The astronomer. A huge entity hovering near earth turns out to be a colossal intelligence. It's completely unimpressed by our civilization; some Beethoven sonatas hold its attention for a while.
Body and Soul by Frank Conroy
The musician. A wonderful evocation of a young man's mastery of the technique of the classical piano. Conroy is a fine jazz player, with a highly regarded "walking" left hand.
Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood
The paleontologist. The mind of a scientist neatly inhabited, while the chosen field of the heroine offers some useful, extended metaphors for sexual complication.