21 Great Novellas

The novella is a rather unloved literary form in the UK, even though British writers have crafted  some fine examples of the art.  It seems to be the length at which I am most comfortable writing, though not one that publishers like.  I have listed below, in no particular order, twenty-one of my favourite novellas.

  1. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  2. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  4. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  5. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
  6. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  7. The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  8. Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley
  9. Sculptor’s Daughter by Tove Jansson
  10. Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
  11. The Bomb Party by Graham Greene
  12. The Railway Accident by Edward Upward
  13. Why Was I Killed? by Rex Warner
  14. Things: A Story of the Sixties/A Man Asleep by Georges Perec
  15. Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau
  16. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
  17. The Cloven Count/Baron in the Trees/The Non-Existent Knight by Italo Calvino
  18. A Month in the Country by J L Carr
  19. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  20. The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark
  21. The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark


A fine example of the craft?

7 Responses to “21 Great Novellas”

  1. Paul Sutton Reeves October 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    I was interested to read the other day, an article in The Independent in praise of the novella, inspired by Ian McEwan’s recent comments about the virtues of the form. McEwan is lucky, of course. He has received praise himself for his alleged bravery in writing novellas. As my writing friend, Huw has pointed out, there’s not actually anything brave about this since, unlike a writer without a deal, McEwan’s publishers will put out what ever he happens to write. Ho hum…

  2. 1EarthUnited December 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    I’d probably include The Death of Ivan Ilych by Tolstoy, and Anthem by Ayn Rand is compelling. Good list!

  3. Paul Sutton Reeves December 24, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Maddy, and thanks for your comments. I haven’t read either of those. I must go and seek them out!

  4. inkposts November 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I agree it is unloved. We recently posted something saying the same in fact. I’ll be sure to keep this list bookmarked as I to need to read more novellas.

  5. theresakishkan December 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    A good list! I’d add Gustaf Sobin’s The Fly-Truffler and Maeve Brennan’s The Visitor. Why isn’t this form more popular, though? Readers always say they love to read novellas yet publishers are so wary of them — unless one is Ian McEwan of course. (I’ve written three, published one…)

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      Well, indeed, Theresa – if you’re already ‘successful’ like McEwan, there’s no barrier to publishing novellas in the UK. Otherwise, no chance… Other countries are more unenlightened. I don’t know either of those titles – I shall investigate. Neither of my novellas has been published!

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