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:

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

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

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

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

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

The Aspen Papers — Henry James

Benito Cereno — Herman Melville

Notes from Underground — Fyodor Dostoevsky

Battles in The Desert — Jose Emilio Pacheco

Plus 2 more

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

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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

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

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

“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!

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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