While reading an interview with Eleanor Catton in The Guardian after her recent Booker win, I came across this interesting quote:

It is the peculiar constellation of her age, gender and the particular nature of The Luminaries that has, she believes, provoked "a sense of irritation from some critics–that I have been so audacious to have taken up people's time by writing a long book. There's a sense in there of: 'Who do you think you are? You can't do that.' "


At 848 pages, The Luminaries  surpasses "long" and moves toward "epic" (the average length for a novel, if you're wondering, is in the neighborhood of 350 pages). But this year, Catton certainly hasn't been the only author to dare to demand hours of attention from readers. 2013 was the year of doorstoppers (defined here as books with more than 500 pages), and many of them were by women.

Think Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things (512 pages), Kate Atkinson's Life After Life (544 pages), Nicola Griffith's Hild (560 pages), Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement (604 pages), Marisha Pessl's Night Film (624 pages), Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (784 pages) and Minae Mizumura's A True Novel (880 pages).

Here's your nifty visual aid:

graphic

Writing a long novel not only asks a lot of the reader, but is also a mark of ambition—something that is not always looked on kindly when coming from a woman. But if this year's output is any indication, female writers aren't letting themselves be held back.

What was your favorite long novel published this year?

 

comments powered by Disqus