It’s Time to Finally Write that Novel

November 1, 2019
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November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), a time when writers of all stripes set out on the audacious task of bringing to completion a novel of 50,000 words. Of course, we know that one of the best ways to become a good writer is to be a good reader, taking in the work of others to feed our own writing appetite and offer inspiration in the writing process. As we head into November and the month’s celebration of the novel, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite fiction for you to enjoy.

And, for tips and tricks to guide you on your own novel-writing adventure, be sure to check out Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, a go-to sourcebook for fiction writers.

Bealport: A Novel of a Town by Jeffrey Lewis. From Haus Publishing.

In the shadow of a failing shoe factory, Bealport, Main is one of the forgotten towns of America. Jeffrey Lewis takes us inside the town, deploying a large cast of characters and revealing the intertwining threads of industry, livelihood, self-respect, and community. Bealport has been called “a hugely satisfying read” by the Evening Standard, “a moving and humane portrait of small town contemporary America” by Daily Mail on Sunday, and “deeply appealing” by the Times Literary Supplement.

The Ambrose J. and Vivian T. Seagrave Museum of 20th Century American Art by Matthew Kirkpatrick. From Acre Books.

A child lost at sea, a strange curator, the haunting presence of a deceased artist, and numerous other dramas fill the galleries of a peculiar museum. Through museum labels and the musings of a visitor, these stories unfold and we learn about the Seagrave family and their estate through this tale that is by turns a dark comedy, a ghost story, a romance, a whodunit, a family saga, and an exhibition catalog that Kirkus calls “a playful and compelling tale.”

The Safe House: A Novel by Christophe Boltanski, Translated by Laura Marris. The University of Chicago Press.

In Paris’s exclusive Saint-Germain neighborhood is a mansion, and deep within it lives a family long hidden in the in the house since the Nazis came. The novel unfolds room by room, each chapter opening with a floorplan and introducing new characters who occupy the spaces. Publishers Weekly writes that what shines in this “short, smart, funny book is bravery and toughness, especially that of his grandmother, who in a world of imaginary and real terrors kept the family safe and together.” 

An Instinctive Feeling of Innocence by Dana Grigorcea. From Seagull Books.

After the bank where she works is robbed, Victoria moves home to Bucharest to process the trauma of the robbery. She around town, with each street triggering sudden memories. As the walls of reality begin to crumble, Victoria and her former self cross paths with the bank robber and a rich cast of characters, weaving a vivid portrait of Romania and one woman’s self-discovery. New Books in German has praised it as a “rich and rewarding read with a deep vein of dark humor.”

During-the-Event by Roger Wall. From the University of Alaska Press.

For D.E., only two certainties exist: his grandfather is dead and life will never be the same.

During-the-Event is an adventure that roams across a near-future United States that has fallen to climate change, and it introduces an unforgettable cast of characters along the way. Publisher’s Weekly calls this dystopian novel of loss, loneliness, love, and identity a “powerful vision of the future.”

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