The purpose of this site is to give an idiosyncratic view of modern (i.e. more or less 20th/21st century) literature, as represented by the novel. It is biased towards my taste and towards the English-speaking world and Europe. You will find very little reference to short stories, drama, poetry and other literary forms, not because I do not consider them worthwhile but because I have less interest in and knowledge of them.
Most, though certainly not all, the books mentioned here have been published in English, though many are now sadly out-of-print. This site is strictly non-academic. I am not and have never been an academic and have aimed it at the intelligent reader who reads modern literature for pleasure.
What is included
I have included, or will include when I get round to it, all the (in my opinion) major novel writers of the modern era and references to what I consider their most important and/or interesting work. By modern era, I generally mean approximately (I stress approximately) from the beginning of the 20th century which, Virginia, started 1 January 1901 and not 1 January 1900, as some may erroneously think. However, you will find writers included who wrote prior to 1 January 1901 and writers excluded who wrote after that date. This is a judgement call on who feels modern (e.g. Conrad) and who does not (e.g. Henry James). You are, of course, quite entitled to disagree with my judgement call.
I will also include a variety of minor writers who I also consider to be interesting. The jury is still out on many writers; some of the writers I have included will fade into the mists of time while others I have not included will come to the fore. One has only to think of writers like Joyce, Kafka and Proust who were not considered or even known by their contemporaries. I have divided writers up by nationality because I find that it is interesting to see them that way but there is also a general alphabetical list and a chronological list of books reviewed, as well as a separate list of works by women writers. For each writer there will eventually be a brief description of them and their work, a bibliography of their most interesting work with a description of these works, references to key biographical or (non-academic) critical works and other links if I can find them. I will also add lists of works by subject (e.g. literature of the World War I) or based on my favourites (e.g. best post-World War II British novels).
What is not included
You will not find references to the works of writers who, in my opinion, are merely popular but have minimum literary worth. That means no Stephen King, John Grisham or J K Rowling. It also means I have excluded writers whose fame is based on political considerations rather than literary worth. The two obvious writers excluded here are Ayn Rand and Solzhenitsyn (He is a bad novelist and a fool. The combination usually makes for great popularity in the U.S. – Gore Vidal), neither of whom has any literary merit whatsoever. Literary types tend to read mysteries to “relax”. You will find few mysteries here or few other genre writers though you will find one or two writers described as science fiction writers, as some of them are clearly showing the way forward and more and more “straight” writers are using science fiction themes.
What do you mean by the term novel?
As Margaret Anne Doody stated in her essential work The True Story of the Novel: A work is a novel if it is fictional, if it is in prose and if it is of a certain length. Even these criteria are somewhat elastic. I can only agree with her. You may well find works that are included that you do not consider to be novels and you may well be right.
How is the site organised?
Every page has the menu at the top, enabling you to go to any apt at any time. This menu is divided up by continents, which are, for the most part, further sub-divided by regions, when you click on them. Clicking on one of these regions will give you a list of countries in that region.
Clicking on one of the countries, will take you to a page for that country. This will include, in most but not all cases, a list of the authors of that nationality represented on this site and/or links concerning the literature of that country. These links are to external sites.
Clicking on one of the links to one of the authors will take you to a page for that author. This will include, on the left, a brief biography of the author and links to external sites of interest on the author. Sites will be in English unless specifically indicated otherwise (i.e. marked as (in [name of language]), e.g. (in French) at the end of link.) On the right of the page will be a bibliography of the author. The bibliography will include works published in book form by the author. It will be given in chronological order of first date of publication (normally first publication in book form.) It will not normally include works published in magazines, anthologies or other part works nor those published only on-line (though it might). It may well include works in other genres, e.g. poetry, drama or non-fiction. While the bibliography will be generally comprehensive, it will not necessarily be complete. If the books were originally written in a language other than English, the title will be given in the language in which the book was written (and usually in the original script, e.g. Cyrillic or Japanese script, not least because transliteration is so inconsistent). If the book has been translated into English, the title (or titles if there is more than one) will be indicated in round brackets ( ). If the book has not been translated in English but I have reviewed it, my generally very literal translation will be given in square brackets [ ]. For books written in a foreign language, particularly those in a more exotic language, the bibliography may only include those books that have been translated into English (or, on occasions, into another West European language.) Please note that I am not an academic nor a professional bibliographer so while every effort is made to make the bibliography as accurate as possible, it may well include errors and will generally try to avoid getting involved in arcane disputes as to the exact dating of first publication. Some of the works in the bibliography, you will note, are links and some are not. Those that are not are there purely for information. Clicking on those that are links will take you to a page for that book.
The page for the book will give a generally relatively brief review of the book and brief bibliographical data.
Note that at the top of every page, there is a link trail (breadcrumbs) of where you are, so if you come in through the back door or have merely forgotten where you are, you can easily get somewhere else.
Who are you?
No-one. I am just an ordinary reader who enjoys reading good novels from different parts of the world. I have no academic connections whatsoever and do not have nor ever have had any connection with the book industry, so I am not selling anything, and the only axe I have to grind is my own idiosyncratic taste.
How can I contact you?
My email is novelthemodernnovel.com. (Note that the email address is themodernnovel.com and not the modernnovel.org.) If you do write to me, I may well not respond and I reserve the right to quote all or part of your email on this site, possibly accompanied by acerbic comments. Your writing to me means that you agree to this.
There are no pictures on this site
Actually there are one or two but not many. Pictures are slow to load and a pain to position, so, for the moment, I have not really used them. As with everything else on this site, I reserve the right to change this without any warning whatsoever.
Do you have a blog?
Yes, I do. It is linked at the bottom of the main page but you can find it here. It will be used sporadically, when I have comments to make on the site, to give a succinct review of books added to this site, on why I am doing what I am doing and on literary issues (or, occasionally, other issues). It will definitely not be updated daily or to a particular schedule.
Do you link to other reviews of the books you review?
No. And here’s why.
Do you have a Facebook, Tumblr, Digg, Delicious, Pinterest, Path, Instagram, FourSquare, MySpace, Google+, AddThis, Squidoo, LiveJournal, Bebo, Last.fm, Spotify, LinkedIn, Flickr, LibraryThing, Goodreads, weRead, orkut account?
No but I do now have a Twitter account