The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from this site:


Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com

You Say

  • Neil G: Think of how less juvenile Marilynne Robinson's writing woul
  • Padraic: Funny, I had no idea Phillip Roth grew up in the Midwest...
  • Ryan Ries: Yeah, what exactly does the Midwestern thing mean? It appea
  • Bernie: Whoa now, mind your Midwestern readers there...
  • Gs: There seems to me an important facet of fiction revealed in
  • David Long: This is a list I posted a few days ago: 25 REASONS TO THA
  • Padraic: I think Saramango gives Coetzee a pretty good run for most a

Group Reads

The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

New Books
Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

36 Outstanding Novellas

A list of some of my favorite novellas:

Death in Venice — Thomas Mann
The Turn of the Screw — Henry James
The Metamorphosis — Kafka
Heart of Darkness — Joseph Conrad
The Invention of Morel — Adolfo Bioy Casares
The Crying of Lot 49 — Thomas Pynchon
The Dead — James Joyce
The Death of Ivan Ilyich — Leo Tolstoy
Things — Georges Perec
The Watcher — Italo Calvino
The Marquise of O — Heinrich von Kleist
Billy Budd, Sailor — Herman Melville
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter — Cesar Aira
Train Dreams — Denis Johnson
Bonsai — Alejando Zambra
The Walk — Robert Walser
Chess Story — Stefan Zweig
The Lifted Veil — George Eliot
The Girl with the Golden Eyes — Honore de Balzac
The Lime Twig — John Hawkes

And I tossed the question out to Twitter:

@dgooblar
Seize the Day — Saul Bellow
The Ghost Writer — Philip Roth

@darrananderson1
Heart of a Dog — Mikhail Bulgakov
A Country Doctor’s Notebook — Mikhail Bulgakov

@AhabLives
Melanctha — Gertrude Stein
Pale Horse, Pale Rider — Katherine Anne Porter
First Love — Samuel Beckett

@cbhathco
The Old Forest — Peter Taylor
The Beggar Maid — Alice Munro

@biblioklept
Benito Cereno — Herman Melville
Hadji Murad — Leo Tolstoy
Chronicle of a Death Foretold — Gabriel García Márquez
The Bear — William Faulkner

@jhm001
@wpwend42
The Aspen Papers — Henry James

@kudera
Benito Cereno — Herman Melville

@svanneil
Notes from Underground — Fyodor Dostoevsky

@IneluctableQuak
Battles in The Desert — Jose Emilio Pacheco

Plus 2 more

@jsief
The Pilgrim Hawk — Glenway Wescott
The Letter Left to Me — Joseph McElroy

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. From the Central Lavatory Review of Beckett’s Collected Poems: When Samuel Beckett was asked to write the libretto for a short opera in 1958, he managed to complete just...
  2. I Guess Paper Was in Short Supply? JC Hallman is blogging the highlights of the correspondence between William and Henry James in conjunction with a book he's writing about . . ....
  3. Frank on Oblomov Joseph Frank, who, unless this is some kind of rare-but-possible mix-up, is the biographer of Dostoevsky has written on the recent translation of the Russian...
  4. 4 Novellas, 4 Formats? This seems like an interesting project. Author Mike Heppner is publishing a series of four (thematically) linked novellas. Number 4 is available to you, reader,...
  5. Two New Novellas from Gabriel Josipovici The author of Goldberg: Variations (see our review if you’re not familiar) has just published two new novellas (via This Space). And here’s the...

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13 comments to 36 Outstanding Novellas

  • Birne

    Michael Kohlhaas, Heinrich von Kleist
    The Golden Pot, E.T.A. Hoffmann
    The Rider on the White Horse, Theodor Storm
    Lieutenant Gustl, Arthur Schnitzler
    Mario and the Magician, Thomas Mann
    Cat and Mouse, Gunter Grass

    A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
    Billy Budd, Herman Melville
    Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, R.L. Stevenson
    Animal Farm, George Orwell

    By Night in Chile, Roberto Bolano

  • DCN

    In addition to many already named:

    “The Shawl” and “The Messiah of Stockholm” by Cynthia Ozick
    “Death in Spring” by Merce Rodoreda
    “The Journey of Ibn Fattouma” by Naguib Mahfouz
    “The Vet’s Daughter” by Barbara Comyns
    “Hour of the Star” by Clarice Lispector

  • p.t.smith

    Dammit. Considering that I went to the bookstore last night specifically to buy novellas, I saw this a day late.

  • Chuck

    “The Duel” by Anton Chekhov should be added to the list. I’d also include “Rita Heyworth and The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Body” by Stephen King. While neither might be included in a list of classic literature, both showcase King at his finest, and served as source material for two excellent films (The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me.) “Bartleby The Scrivener” by Herman Melville should also be mentioned.

  • Bartleby the Scrivener will always be my number one. More recently: Customer Service by Benoit Duteurtre, Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos, and The Hall of the Singing Caryatids by Victor Pelevin. Top notch!

  • PStoakes

    Rock Crystal: Adelbert Stifter
    The Driver’s Seat: Muriel Spark
    A Beleaguered City : Margaret Oliphant

  • Eric

    Pelevin’s Omon Ra and Cesar Aira’s The Literary Conference are also excellent.

  • [...] Novellas (novellae?) to read. [via Conversational Reading] [...]

  • m. klausman

    mikhail zoschenko – before sunrise
    haniel long – interlinear to cabeza de vaca
    john fuller – flying to nowhere
    ivan olbracht – the sorrowful tears of hannah karajich
    julien gracq – king cophetua
    claudio magris – inferences from a saber
    pierre michon – the origin of the world
    jaimy gordon – circumspections from an equestrian statue
    yury tynanov – lieutenant kije/young vitushishnikov
    gerhard roth – the will to sickness
    arno schmidt – school for atheists
    jose donoso – hell has no limits
    alejo carpentier – the kingdom of this world
    jaime de angulo – the lariat
    james schuyler – alfred & guinevere
    nikolai leskov – musk ox
    tom pickard – guttersnipe
    ermilo abreu gomez – canek
    frigyes karinthy – voyage to faremido/capillaria

  • Michael Travis

    The Late Bourgeois World by Nadine Gordimer
    Party Going and Loving by Henry Green

  • david kelly-hedrick

    Legends of the Fall, The Woman Lit by Fireflies, Brown Dog, and Revenge by Jim Harrison

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