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Litfest Reading Lists: Short Novels and Novellas

On 12 November 2021 we welcomed Sarah Hall to an ‘In Conversation’ event about her recently launched short novel, Burntcoat. If you missed the event, you can watch it on our Youtube channel here.

At the event, we asked Sarah to name some of her favourite short novels or novellas, and here are her choices:

Madonna in a Fur Coat Sabahattin Ali
Herland Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Exit West Mohsin Hamid
Rumblefish 
SE Hinton
In the Orchard, the Swallows Peter Hobbs
Mrs Caliban
Rachel Ingalls
Train Dreams Dennis Johnson
The Longshot Katie Kitamura
The Giant O’ Brien Hilary Mantel
Coming through Slaughter Michael Ondaatje
Solo Faces James Salter
The Lonely Londoners Sam Selvon

We then invited our online audience to name their own favourites in the chat. The instant brainstorming session included the following novellas and short novels, to which Litfest has added some other suggestions:

The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes
Mercier and Camier Samuel Beckett
The Heart of a Dog Mikhail Bulgakov (trans. Michael Glenny)
Agamemnon’s Truth Javier Cercas (trans. Anne McLean, Granta, No. 98)
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
The Secret Sharer Joseph Conrad
The Old Child Jenny Erpenbeck (trans. Susan Bernofsky)
Chronicle of a Death Foretold Gabriel García Márquez (trans. Gregory Rabassa)
No one Writes to the Colonel 
Gabriel García Márquez (trans. JS Bernstein)
Wandering Herman Hesse (trans. James Wright)
In the Springtime of the Year Susan Hill
The Turn of the Screw Henry James
The Aspern Papers Henry James
Metamorphosis Franz Kafka (trans. Michael Hofmann, Penguin)
The Alienist Machado de Assis (trans. William L. Grossman)
Death in Venice Thomas Mann (trans. HT Lowe-Porter)
Pierre et Jean Guy de Maupassant (trans. Julie Mead)
The Weaver’s Grave by Seumas O’Kelly
There Was Still Love Favel Parrett
10 minutes 38 Seconds… Elif Shafak
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept Elizabeth Smart
Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (trans. Anne McLean)
Chess Stefan Zweig (trans. Anthea Bell)
Richard Ford Wildlife
Abram Tertz (Andrei Sinyavsky) The Trial Begins (translated by Max Hayward)

We hope you will consider reading one or more of these excellent short novels and novellas. If you do, we’d love to hear about it — please send us a tweet, or contact us on Facebook or Instagram with your thoughts.  And if you haven’t already read it, copies of Sarah’s fantastic short novel Burntcoat (with signed book plates) are available to buy from the Litfest bookshop.