A Book of Memories, published in English translation in 2008 by FSG and clocking in at a chunky 720 pages. Memorably, in the New York Review Deborah Eisenberg wrote in a piece entitled "The Genius of Peter Nadas":" />

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

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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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.


  • Nostalgia June 15, 2014
    Few habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). […]
  • Why Literary Periods Mattered by Ted Underwood June 15, 2014
    There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has been fully appropriated to describe the historical era be […]
  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz June 15, 2014
    August 1939. You sail to Buenos Aires on the Chombry as a cultural ambassador of Poland. Why say no to a little holiday on the government’s tab? Soon after arriving you sense that something isn’t right. You emerge from a welcome reception and your ears are “filled with newspaper cries: ‘Polonia, Polonia,’ most irksome indeed.” Before you’ve even had a chance […]
  • Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan June 15, 2014
    The first collections of most young poets, even the better ones, carry with them a hint of bravado. Flush with recognition, vindicated by the encouraging attentions of at least one editor and three blurbists, the poet strikes a triumphant pose and high-fives the Muse: “We did it, baby.” When Joshua Mehigan published his impressive first collection, The Optim […]
  • The Histories of Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland June 15, 2014
    Two of the greatest of Tom Holland's predecessors in translating Herodotus are Victorian scholar George Rawlinson and Aubrey de Selincourt; the former translated Herodotus in 1860, making an enormous hit (despite the fact that its detractors often referred to it as “dull and prolix"), while the latter's 1954 Herodotus was another enormous hit, […]
  • Bullfight by Yasushi Inoue June 15, 2014
    The premise of Yasushi Inoue's debut novella Bullfight, celebrated in Japan as a classic of postwar literature, is unassuming enough: an evening newspaper sponsors a tournament of the regional sport of bull-sumo. As practical and financial issues arise, the paper's young editor-in-chief, Tsugami, soon realizes he has taken on more than he can handl […]
  • Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones June 15, 2014
    Sworn Virgin was made to be translated. Elvira Dones wrote this book not in her native language of Albanian but in Italian—a necessarily fraught and complicated decision. In an Italian-language interview with Pierre Lepori, Dones speaks about her choice of language: “Sworn Virgin was born in Italian . . . I’ve lived using Italian for nineteen years, it has s […]
  • On the Letters of David Markson June 15, 2014
    Knowing these narrators and how their lives paralleled David’s own, it’s difficult to deny his being a recluse. I certainly held that image of him, and nursed it, secretly cherishing it because it meant I was one of the few people with whom he corresponded, and with whom he would occasionally meet. Arranging our first meetings in person was something of a ni […]
  • Storm Still by Peter Handke June 15, 2014
    Storm Still (Immer Noch Sturm) does not necessarily represent new terrain for Handke. Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2010 and now available for English-language readers thanks to Martin Chalmers’ fluent translation, the play chronicles the dissolution of the Svinec family, a family of Carinthian Slovenes—a quasi-fictionalized version of Handke’s […]
  • Red or Dead by David Peace June 15, 2014
    David Peace's novel Red or Dead is about British football, but it partakes in the traits of Homer's epic. This is a novel about the place of myth and heroes in modern society, about how the cyclical rhythms of athletic seasons reflect the cyclical patterns of life. It is a book about honor and fate, and one which bridges the profound, dreamlike ter […]

Just How Big Is Peter Nadas’ Parallel Stories?

Hungarian author Peter Nadas wrote one of my favorite novels in recent memory: it was A Book of Memories, published in English translation in 2008 by Picador and clocking in at a chunky 720 pages. Memorably, in the New York Review Deborah Eisenberg wrote in a piece entitled “The Genius of Peter Nadas“:

And although it’s certain, insofar as anything can be, that Péter Nádas would have become an extraordinary writer no matter what his circumstances, life in Hungary under a Soviet-backed regime has left a burning imprint on his writing. His work’s frank claims to be on a high level, its ambition, assurance, rigor, and tone of urgency, as well as the extent to which it sometimes makes free with the reader’s stamina, not only suggest irrepressible artistic and moral force but also seem unburdened by personal arrogance. What is at issue for him, clearly, is to discover truth and tell it in whatever way possible.

This fall FSG is publishing Nadas’ titanic (there is no other word) Parallel Stories, 15 years in the writing and 5 years in the translating. How big is it? I took some photos for comparison’s sake:

First of all, let’s put it up against WIlliam T. Vollmann’s gargantuan Fathers and Crows, a big book from a guy who knows about writing big books.

Parallel Stories: 1152 pages
Fathers and Crows by William T. Vollmann: 1008 pages

Nadas v. Vollmann? Advantage Nadas.

What about The Recognitions, a notably huge book?

Parallel Stories: 1152 pages
The Recognitions by William Gaddis: 976 pages

Nadas v. Gaddis? Advantage Nadas.

Then there’s everybody’s go-to book when thinking of huge books, War and Peace (which, in fact, is name-checked on the back copy of Parallel.)

Parallel Stories: 1152 pages
War and Peace by Tolstoy: 1200 pages

Too close to call. Let’s go to the photo:

In fact, the photo is deceptive on this one, as the Norton critical edition uses transparently thin paper. But given all the critical apparatus that comes with the Norton, I have to give this one to Parallel Stories.

Nadas v. Tolstoy? Advantage Nadas.

You can even stack this book up against a trilogy–like Cormac McCarthy’s masterful Border Trilogy.

Parallel Stories: 1152 pages
The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy: 1056 pages

Nadas v. McCarthy? Advantage Nadas.

And then there’s the size of Nadas’ own prior Book of Memories.

Parallel Stories: 1152 pages
A Book of Memories by Peter Nadas: 720 pages

Nadas v. Nadas? Advantage Nadas.

About the only thing I could find to rival Parallel Stories was the legendarily long Infinite Jest, which, though a dab shorter by pagecount has much bigger pages and packs in more words per page.

Parallel Stories: 1152 pages
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace: 1104 pages

Nadas v. Wallace? Let’s go to the photo.

You call it.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. The Problem with Quoting Peter Nadas I’m not sure if A Book of Memories is representative of Peter Nadas’s work, but if it is then this author is difficult to quote...
  2. Vollmann´s Rainbow Stories Given my great love for most things Vollmann, I knew that eventually I´d have to tackle Vollmann´s The Rainbow Stories. First published in 1989, this...
  3. Machine by Peter Adolphsen Review Wow. Peter Adolphsen’s Machine sounds pretty incredible. From Three Percent’s review: Although Danish author Peter Adolphsen has made a name for himself as a formalist...
  4. Gert Jonke Essay And Stories Last year I read Homage to Czerny (Google Book text here) by Austrian writer Gert Jonke for the Best Translated Book Award. It wasn't quite...
  5. Peter Beinart Over at the New York Review of Books, Frank Rich uses Peter Beinart as a punching bag. Excellent. In all his pages about the war...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

15 comments to Just How Big Is Peter Nadas’ Parallel Stories?

  • dglen

    And if the Paris Review excerpt is indicative, we have a LOT to look forward to.

  • anon

    Can you post pics of the cover/TOC/first page???

    Also- it looks like your review copy is a paperback. Any idea if the real thing will be published in pb or in hardcover first (Amazon’s page says it comes out in October in hardcover)?

  • admin

    Sure, I can post pics, but I think they’ll be disappointing. The copy I have is a galley, which is why it’s paperback. For $40 I hope FSG gives its readers a hardback.

  • I don’t know if this is an actual “thing”, but it’s always seemed to me that galleys are disproportionately large. Obviously this is one chunkster of a book, but I think a better indicator is how the book looks once it’s published in paperback. It’d probably be less bloated, better quality paper, etc.

  • Ah, but is it bigger than Miss Macintosh, My Darling? Or Laura Warholic? Or Against the Day? Or John Sayles’s new A Moment in the Sun? Or Clarissa?

    Probably, but this is fun.

  • Neil Griffin

    I was wondering if that Paris Review novella was an excerpt from something bigger. I guess I have my answer.

  • [...] Reading looks at Peter Nadas’s forthcoming novel Parallel Stories – specifically, the fact that it is a physically massive work of fiction. [...]

  • [...] blog got a little upset that I was being too mean to Jonathan Franzen and his vision… »Just How Big Is Peter Nadas’ Parallel Stories?Hungarian author Peter Nadas wrote one of my favorite novels in recent memory: it was A Book of [...]

  • I have The Book of Memories on my shelf. I better get to it soon. This new one looks really interesting. Thanks.

  • Thomas McGonigle

    I find that this is a book that carefully slows down one’s reading… I have not figured out how he is doing this but I think one can only read 3 pages at a sitting…

  • l

    I purchased the Kindle version on the 25th and have done little else since then but read it. Did a Google search for the title & found this site, so am using it to gush & exclaim about this book. I’m about 15% through the book, and it is absolutely unbelievably wonderful. Never even heard of Nadas before, I’m ashamed to say. But as a big reader who most loves endless 19th century novels, I am, I guess the best word is ‘shocked’ at the precision and scope of the world described in this novel. With this length, you would expect a loose fabric of description, allowing a rather relaxed pace and attention to detail. Nope. Each sentence is carefully chiseled, with endless juxtapositions that are unexpected, somewhat shocking even, yet resonate as true, believable when you stop to consider them.

    And stop to consider is imperative. You simply can’t read this book very quickly. I want to underline so much that I actually put the book down yesterday & went out for a walk to rearrange in my mind what I wanted to underline, since underlining everything is the same as underlining nothing. Never in my life have I had this dilemma.

    God what a book! I’ve already ordered his entire back catalog, which depressingly is essentially available at $.01 per book plus postage. Thank goodness for FSG’s continued commitment to translations. This one took 4 years, which is no surprise.

  • [...] 1,000-page marker. Also in autumnal lit fic, Adam Levin’s The Instructions and Peter Nadas’s Parallel Stories both managed to produce 1,000-plus pagers. And that’s what’s changed about the size [...]

  • [...] 1,000-page marker. Also in autumnal lit fic, Adam Levin’s The Instructions and Peter Nadas’s Parallel Stories both managed to produce 1,000-plus pagers. And that’s what’s changed about the size [...]

  • [...] Posted on January 20, 2014 Sometimes the best surprises arrive in unmarked brown boxes. In this case the mysterious contents appeared to be harmless enough, despite the intimidating immensity of the thing: it was the new novel by the great Hungarian writer Péter Nádas, a 1,000-plus-page behemoth called Parallel Stories. [...]

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>