Melville House

In praise of the novella


As Chris Power notes in this recent Twitter exchange, any conversation on the novella usually begins with an attempt to define what a novella is, or to “engage in a form of literary apologia.

Most reviews of novellas begin with similar elements: the writer’s arbitrary word count parameter, why “novella” sounds more diminutive than “short novel,” and a lament that publishers are unwilling to support the form. This essay is not such an apology. I am tired of threnodies. Writers of novellas have nothing to be sorry about. Novellas deserve critical attention as individual, not adjacent, works.