Scott Esposito’s Top Novellas

Sadly, I’m one of those people contributing to the novella’s underappreciated status, so I’m not sure if I’ve even read ten over the last few years. But here are a few that I’ve enjoyed:

The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares
Don’t know if this is considered a short novel or a novella, but I’ll call it the latter because I never miss an opportunity to recommend this book by Borges’s closest literary peer.

Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter
This and the two other novellas/long stories it’s generally collected with are among the best writing published in post-WWI America.

Battles in the Desert, by Jose Emilio Pacheco
Classic of post-WWII Mexican fiction. Read by every Mexican high schooler, placed with Paz, Rulfo, and Fuentes in Mexico, completely neglected in America.

By Night in Chile, by Roberto Bolaño
Everyone who went wild over The Savage Detectives and 2666 is missing out if they haven’t read this one.

Bartleby & Co., by Enrique Vila-Matas
This set of footnotes to a novel not yet written is quite possibly its own literary genre.

The Blue Guide to Indiana, by Michael Martone
A fake travel guide to a real-world place that doesn’t actually exist.

Bonsai, by Alejandro Zambra
This is a fun little love story that’s kind of like a metafictional riddle about life.

Scott Esposito is a book critic, writer, and editor. Some of his publications and clients include: The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Daily News, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Chattahoochee Review, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, The Rain Taxi Review of Books, eMusic, Publishers Group West, The National Book Critics Circle. He edits the literary weblog, Conversational Reading, and the quarterly web magazine, The Quarterly Conversation.

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