Category Archives: Novels

‘Words were boxes, they contained material that was alive’: The Words to Say It by Marie Cardinal

The Words to Say It is the story of a difficult birth, an ultimately triumphant odyssey through near-death and madness to life. Dedicated to ‘the doctor who helped me be born’, Marie Cardinal’s autobiographical novel recounts her birth and delivery … Continue reading

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To become oneself, with all one’s strength. Difficult.: The Quest for Christa T. by Christa Wolf

Christa Wolf’s second novel, The Quest for Christa T., is the story of a long-limbed, dreamy young woman, Christa T., recollected by a friend who first meets her at school during the dying months of the Second World War. The … Continue reading

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‘Though no honours came my way, those were the lovely years’: The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

Like his literary hero Gustave Flaubert, Truman Capote was passionately dedicated to his art. He wrote: ‘Flaubert’s attitude towards writing, his sense of perfectionism, is what I would like mine to be.’ Capote began writing at the age of eight … Continue reading

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‘Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around doorways, and she was afraid’: The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

Carson McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding is the story of a young girl who suddenly finds herself at sea in the world; she hates being herself, and she can find no words for the new things that burst within … Continue reading

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‘I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me’: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

‘I am an invisible man,’ declares the narrator of Ralph Ellison’s only novel. ‘I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply … Continue reading

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‘I am over-run, jungled in my bed, I am infested with a menagerie of desires’: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart

When Elizabeth Smart left her upper-middle-class family home in Ottawa, Canada, aged 18 to study piano for a year at King’s College, University of London, she made a move that would irrevocably alter the course of her life. While in … Continue reading

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I was conscious only of the cymbals of the sun clashing on my skull: The Outsider by Albert Camus

The trigger gave, and the smooth underbelly of the butt jogged my palm. And so, with that crisp, whip-crack sound, it all began. I shook off my sweat and the clinging veil of light. I knew I had shattered the … Continue reading

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