My Top 5 Novellas

This week’s blog post is dedicated to my top 5 novellas.  For anyone not familiar with this literary form, a novella is a fictional, prose narrative that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Novellas are generally about 20,000 – 50,000 words.

Here are my 5 favourite novellas in ascending order.
 

5 – The Legend of the Holy Drinker by Joseph Roth

The Legend of the Holy Drinker

This is a compact and compassionate novella about an alcoholic tramp.  Its author, Joseph Roth, succumbed to a premature alcohol related death shortly after finishing this allegorical tale about seeking redemption.

My Review: The story is about an alcoholic tramp by the name of Andreas, who lives under bridges of the river Seine.  Andreas finds himself in luck when he is given two hundred francs by a stranger, … (More)
 

4 – The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man And The Sea

This is a carefully constructed and evocative novella written in Hemingway’s trademark simple, concise, economy of prose style. It is a memorable story that I would strongly recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it.

My Review: Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba, this is a tale about an old man, a boy and a colossal Marlin.  The old man, Santiago, is a veteran fisherman, who is on a run of bad luck having been eighty-four days without catching a fish. (More)
 

3 – The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Pearl

Unlike most of Steinbeck’s novels, The Pearl is set in the Gulf of Mexico, not the Salinas Valley.  It is a captivating and disturbing parable about the darker side of human nature that illustrates how riches can be illusory.

My Review: Steinbeck’s novella, The Pearl, is a story about a destitute Mexican pearl diver by the name of Kino, who leads a simple, predictable existence with his wife Juana and baby son Coyotito. One day … (More)
 

2 – Junky by William S. Burroughs

Junky

Junky is a semi-autobiographical novella that adeptly captures the obsessive nature of addiction.  Its detached journalistic approach is in stark contrast to the rambling, stream of consciousness style found in some of Burroughs’s later works.

My Review: Set in 1950s America and Mexico, Junky is a confessional novella about drug addiction. Its protagonist Bill Lee chronicles his drug-centred existence, which entails searching for his daily fix, scoring, and … (More)
 

1 – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Whilst the morose subject matter (Gulags) will not appeal to everyone, this reader, an avid Solzhenitsyn fan, is of the opinion that One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the best books ever written.

My Review: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is a former POW serving a 10 year term in a Gulag on the Kazakh steppe for being a spy. He is innocent. The book chronicles a single day of his existence, beginning with a 5 a.m. reveille. (More)

 

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