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.

Three Novels, César Aira

By Rob Doyle.

The Argentine César Aira, who has published a couple of dozen more volumes than his sixty-four years, acknowledges that he writes not for the casual, but for the boutique reader. Churning out up to four novellas a year (the mid-length form is where he has always felt most comfortable), Aira is published by a host of small, independent publishers in Buenos Aires, the city where he has lived since 1967.