Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Good of the Novel?

An excellent new book from Faber, The Good of the Novel, edited by Liam McIlvanney and Ray Ryan, is a series of essays on the nature and current state of the novel, circling such questions as What kinds of truth can be told uniquely through novels? and taking in an examination of the role of the critic.  Each essay focuses on an individual novel, and the contents include Robert Macfarlane on Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty; Tessa Hadley on Coetzee's Disgrace and James Wood on Ian McEwan’s Atonement.  I have already gobbled up the excellent (and inspiring) introduction and James Wood's opening piece, which I'm not sure I agree with entirely - must read it again, more carefully - but which is exciting food for thought.  I'd say the book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the present-day novel. 

There's a discussion on the topic on the Faber blog, to which I was very kindly asked to contribute. In Part 1 Richard T Kelly, editor of Faber Finds and agent Clare Alexander contribute their views, and in Part 2 I have my say along with two other bloggers, Paperback Reader and Juxtabook. Do go on over and contribute your own views.

Cross-posted with Elizabeth Baines
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