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How Novels Work
     

How Novels Work

3.5 4
by John Mullan
 

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Drawing on his weekly Guardian column, "Elements of Fiction," John Mullan offers an engaging look at the novel, focusing mostly on works of the last ten years as he illuminates the rich resources of novelistic technique.

Mullan sheds light on some of the true masterworks of contemporary fiction, including Monica Ali's Brick Lane, J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace

Overview

Drawing on his weekly Guardian column, "Elements of Fiction," John Mullan offers an engaging look at the novel, focusing mostly on works of the last ten years as he illuminates the rich resources of novelistic technique.

Mullan sheds light on some of the true masterworks of contemporary fiction, including Monica Ali's Brick Lane, J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace, Don DeLillo's Underworld, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Patricia Highsmith's Ripley under Ground, Ian McEwan's Atonement, John le Carré's The Constant Gardener, Philip Roth's The Human Stain, Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated, and Zadie Smith's White Teeth. He highlights how these acclaimed authors use some of the basic elements of fiction. Some topics (like plot, dialogue, or location) will appear familiar to most novel readers, while others (meta-narrative, prolepsis, amplification) will open readers' eyes to new ways of understanding and appreciating the writer's craft. Mullan also excels at comparing modern and classic authors—Nick Hornby's adoption of a female narrator is compared to Daniel Defoe's; Ian McEwan's use of weather is set against Austen's and Hardy's.
How Novels Work explains how the pleasures of novel reading often come from the formal ingenuity of the novelist, making visible techniques and effects we are often only half-aware of as we read. It is an entertaining and stimulating volume that will captivate anyone who is interested in the contemporary or the classical novel.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review from previous edition
"Expanding on his popular Guardian column, and focusing on a set of key novels, How Novels Work [mullan] aims to explain to the interested 'non-academic' reader critical approaches, particularly 'matters of form', which are normally considered the perserve of academia...the text is rich in critical and literary-historical insights...critical readings which...[are], above all, communicated in plain English."—Beth Lynch, Times Literary Supplement

"Ever insightful critiques...wholly satisfying, and a great education for book-lovers and would-be novelists alike... Mullan is willing to go where other academics do not usually deign to tread."—Susan Elderkin, The Financial Times

"A wealth of sharp mini-essays."—The Guardian

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199281787
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/15/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
933,597
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 5.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

John Mullan is Professor of English at University College London. He is the author of Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century and co-editor of Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture: An Anthology. A broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, he writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for the Guardian.

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