Novellas in November 2020

I’m pretty disconnected from book culture (I’m trying! See here, here, here) but even I noticed that this is a big month. The Booker and Giller Prizes will be awarded, and a slew of reading events are running, one for every taste, including the geographic (Germany, Australia), the author-specific (Margaret Atwood Reading Month), and the category-based (Novellas in November, see below, and Nonfiction November, blog or booktube version).

I’m just here to read novellas, though I will have a bit of overlap with one other event. No need to break out the Venn diagrams in my case though!

Here’s my TBR, broken down by the weekly themes Cathy and Rebecca came up with:

  1. Contemporary fiction: The Student by Cary Fagan (178 pages). The frame story is set in 2005, so I figure that’s contemporary enough, though I think the flashbacks to 1957 will take up a lot of the narrative. This is an old-woman-looking-back-on-life story, which is almost a cliche in CanLit, but it’s one that I like!
  2. Nonfiction novellas/Margaret Atwood Reading Month crossover: Good Bones by Margaret Atwood (153 pages). Is this nonfiction? I’m not entirely sure. The backcover says they’re stories, but it looks more like poetry and mini-essays to me. Miscellany. Ms. Atwood and I have a rocky relationship but this does look fun.
  3. Literature in translation: Mad Shadows by Marie-Claire Blais, translated by Merloyd Lawrence (128 pages): More CanLit, Québécois this time. This has a Bonjour Tristesse vibe, because the author wrote it when we was just 20 years old, but also because it sounds dark and juicy and transgressive. The cover claims Blais “cleared the way for a new era in Québec fiction”.
  4. Short classics: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (152 pages). It’s time. Recently recommended by Leynes, who quotes Marlon James in saying that with this book, Rhys shut the door on the 19th century. I love that.

Let’s pump up those “books read in 2020” numbers, I know I need it!

8 comments

  1. Claire 'Word by Word'

    Sometimes there’s this one book that keeps coming into ones vision and we might try to ignore it, but it can be persistent. I listened to Sara Collins interview Tsitsi Dangarembga (on her Nervous Conditions trilogy) so had too look up Collins, her book, see it’s influences and there it was again Wild Sagasso Sea. Yes, about time here too.

  2. Naomi

    I love your choices.
    The Student: I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out. I didn’t know it was so short – maybe I’ll save it for next year! (It sure seems to always come around fast enough!)
    Good Bones: Haven’t read this – can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it.
    Mad Shadows: I was going to read this one! Maybe I will still have time… we’ll see.
    Wide Sargasso Sea: I read this a few years ago. I think you’ll like it.
    Happy Reading!

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