The Good of the Novel

Liam McIlvanney
Date Published
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There remains at work – in both Britain and America – a group of literary journalists and academics committed to the evaluative criticism of fiction, to a criticism that approaches novels as novels.

The Good of the Novel is a collection of specially commissioned essays – edited by Ray Ryan and LIam McIlvanney – on the contemporary Anglophone novel. Bringing together some of the most strenuous and perceptive critics of the present moment and putting them in contact with some of the finest novels of the past three decades, it examines what the novel does and what kinds of truth the novel can tell. What is it that the novel knows? What is it about the language used in a novel that creates a world different from that of drama or poetry? And how does a particular novel emplify this?

These questions can be answered by the careful examination of particular great works by strong evaluative critics. Robert Macfarlane on Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty; Tessa Hadley examining Coetzee’s Disgrace; and Ian Sansom on Roth’s American Pastoral – just some of the essays that are to be found in this insightful, intelligent and illuminating book.


Liam McIlvanney was born in Ayrshire. He is the author of Burns the Radical and All the Colours of the Town. He lives in Dunedin with his wife and four sons.

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