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How to Read a Novelist

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  38 reviews
John Freeman, author and editor of Granta magazine, has interviewed nearly every name in fiction and the literary world. In this collection Freeman has compiled the most insightful and fascinating of his interviews, essays and articles.

In How to Read a Novelist we encounter Paul Theroux on the state of sex in America, Margaret Atwood as inventor, John Updike as relationshi
Paperback, 344 pages
Published August 22nd 2012 by Text Publishing
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Terri Jacobson
This is an interesting and thoughtful book about the reading experience. John Freeman did interviews with a wide range of novelists over a period of several years. He does a short summary of each writer and his/her major works. He then enters a discussion about a wide range of ideas: what is the creative urge and how is it expressed; what is the relationship between the writer and the reader; how has the author's work changed over time. Some of the writers he interviewed have died in the period ...more
Abeer Hoque
Full disclosure: John Freeman is a friend.

“How To Read A Novelist” by John Freeman is a warmly written review of modern literature. In the last 15 years, John has interviewed the literati and rising lit stars of our generation, a contemporary canon, from Salman Rushdie to David Mitchell to Margaret Atwood to Doris Lessing to Haruki Murakami to Mohsin Hamid and so on. If someone has published something marvelous in the last decade and half, chances are John has met its author on intimate and lit
How to Read a Novelist is a collection of interviews conducted by John Freeman with a variety of contemporary authors over a period of 10 years. Some of the writers are Haruki Murakami, Aleksandr Hemon, and John Updike. Each interview is preceded by a short introduction describing the writer and his or her works. The interview itself is two or three pages. The focus of the interview is as varied as the writer being interviewed.

I found this an ideal book to have around for when I only have a few
Elizabeth A
This fun and informative collection of author interviews hit my sweet spot. John Freeman introduces each author interview with an insightful summary of the author's work to date, and the essays are as diverse as the people being interviewed. The essays are short, but this is not a book to read in one sitting. Dip in and out. Read up on your fave authors first, or start at with authors new to you. This is a book I will certainly dip into again. Most of the authors interviewed were not new to me, ...more
This is no James Wood- , or John Sutherland-, or Thomas C. Foster- , or Mortimer Adler-sort of "how to" book. It's a collection of super-short previously-published overviews of 50+ well-known authors' careers attached to re-worked interviews/conversations Freeman has conducted since the early 2000s. It contains standard biographical data that only someone very young and/or completely unfamiliar with contemporary fiction would find new, and much of Freeman's writing was stale, trite, and hackneye ...more
Sempre que posso, tento separar a obra do seu respetivo autor. Há situações em que isso, para mim, é impossível (exemplo recente do que sucedeu com a Marion Zimmer Bradley), mas as crenças e opiniões de um autor não costumam ser decisivos para decidir se quero ou não ler um livro seu. Ainda assim, vi este livro como uma oportunidade interessante para descobrir novos autores e conhecer um pouco melhor aqueles de quem já li obras ou pretendo ler.

John Freeman é um crítico literário que foi, ao long
I really, really enjoyed this book, which is full of short portraits of about 50 authors from interviews that John Freeman has done over the years. Freeman is himself quite an excellent writer, which significantly enhances the experience of learning about the authors in question. I especially enjoyed the interviews of John Irving (one of my favorite authors, although Freeman seems to subtly communicate that he is less than impressed with him) and Susanna Clarke (another favorite - her interview ...more
Liana Machado
John Freeman selecionou 55 autores que entrevistou a epoca que era editor da Granta e fez um bom guia literário sobre eles. O livro trás sucinta biografia dos autores, principais influências literárias, gêneros predominante, prêmios, obras contextualizadas e alguns trechos de entrevistas. Um bem escrito guia de referências.
Finally, finally, finally! A very difficult book to finish. Reading how 53 accomplished novelists being interviewed about, in a nutshell, the outcomes of their hard work, the challenges they went through and the way they handle things, it forced me to think and evaluate. Harder than I usually did, anyway, which is unsurprising considering the number of commercial fictions I tend to pick ;)

From this book, I came to these conclusions:

One, you need a strong, strong sense of self and an unfailing c
Jennifer Sundt
I was on the fence as I began my journey through this collection of narratives. Maybe I continued because I liked the way the pages smelled - warm, papery, properly LITERARY.

The reason for my initial indecision lay in that I wasn't sure if I could relate to the authors featured whose works I'd never read. I wondered if I should only look for Amy Tan and the handful of people whom I knew, and return it all to the library after. As I kept reading (and sniffing the pages), however, I came to find
Dale Harcombe
How to Read a Novelist
By John Freeman
The Text Publishing Company
Paperback RRP $29.95 AUD

Like most writers and many readers, I am fascinated by accounts of how other writers work and interviews with writers. This book is one sure to delight anyone interested in books and the process of writing. To my mind this is not a book to pick up and read cover to cover like a novel. I suspect many people will do as I did and turn up favourite authors and writers they admire first. I read the introductory ch
4ZZZ Book Club
John Freeman is a writer, journalist and editor. His reviews and interviews have appeared in the likes of The Age, The Australian, TheIndependent, the LA Times and The St Petersburg Times. He was the president of the National Book Critics Circle and since 2009 has been the editor ofGranta magazine, which has a stated belief in "the story's supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real". He has just released a collection of his interviews and profiles, titled How to Read a Novelist, which ...more
Joshua Cook
So, what is this "How to Read a Novelist"? He says it best in the introduction: author profiles that seek to "reinstate some atmospheric context into the legend of a writer's life and work." The intensely observed, poet's-eye details abound. There's so much gold here: creative process; enigmatic answers; titillating biography; quirky facts; craft lessons; on and on. At times, the profiles fall short of capturing that atmospheric context, but the ones that hit—Morrison, Murakami, DeLillo to name ...more
This book helps a would be writer to ....I suppose understand how to be a novelist .The author interviews different writers (popular in our time )..that makes them seem human .This book is ,in my opinion useful to a reader who preferably is familiar with the work of these writers(feels he or she understand the writer of his or her favourite work )
Freeman ha raccolto tutte le interviste che ha fatto ai suoi scrittori preferiti, da Murakami Haruki a John Updike, quasi tutti americani o che comunque nei loro scritti parlando di america e americani. Un buon passatempo tra un romanzo e l'altro, il tutto corredato da belle caricature di ogni romanziere o scrittore citato.
In 55 interviews with the rock stars of the literary world, journalist and critic John Freeman reminds us of the scope, power, and importance of the novel in our day-to-day lives. It reminded me fondly of a lot of great books I've read, and made me want to read a lot more.
Georgia Sebert
This is so good, and will live by the Paris Review Interviews on my shelf.
Dylan Groves
should have fewer novelists, longer chapters
Dijon Chiasson
I am a bit disappointed. Judging by the title, the blurb on the cover, and the excerpts on the back, I thought this book was going to be much more instructive. This book is helpful to writers only in an incidental way.

If you're thinking about reading this book, you should know it reads more like a collection of journalistic author profiles than any sort of guide to approaching the texts of various authors. If that sounds okay to you, than you'll enjoy this book.
Julie M
I enjoyed reading this after hearing the author interviewed on public radio. Not being familiar with most of the novelists interviewed by Freeman made it a mixed bag, like "oh, I really should read Roth" or "maybe I should give John Irving another chance" . . . The book made me feel I should reconsider some of my 'required reading', and yet, why? I like what I like; and shouldn't feel less educated for my choices. So many books, so little time!
Patrick Ryan
This is the book I ached for when I was in grad school and that I find myself just as excited to pour through now. Reading it is like being a fly on the wall of the living rooms of so many of your favorite contemporary writers. And it's a win/win: If you're already familiar with the authors, you'll enjoy reading these profiles; if you aren't, this book is like an intimate first handshake, introducing you. Highly recommended.
I wish Freeman wouldn't feel the need to list every single prize each writer has won. Apart from this obsession with hierarchy, the book is enjoyable.
"Il libro per chi ama i libri." ci dice il retro della copertina, ed è proprio vero. Questo libro ha ampliato immensamente e pericolosamente (per il mio conto in banca) la mia già gigantesca wishlist.
Piacevole, ben scritto e, sopratutto, interessante. Sono ritratti, visioni, sbirciatine veloci (purtroppo), dei più brillanti scrittori contemporanei. Assolutamente da leggere.
Numerous well-crafted pieces about a host of writers. My only complaint: most of these pieces are on the shorter side, and when Freeman has more space to discuss a writer -- the Aleksander Hemon piece in here comes to mind -- the results are some of this book's highlights.
This was great! Totally gave me my writer-nerd fix. I just wanted the interviews to be longer. I loved the ones with Haruki Murakami, Amy Tan, and Salman Rushie were my faves. Actually, I'm probably making that up; I enjoyed almost all of them.
These essays are based on interviews, but we sure don't get to hear much of what the subjects actually said. Bathroom reading. This book makes me nostalgic for my Paris Review interview anthologies. (Where the heck are those, anyway?!)
Stephen Pincock
An enjoyable collection of profile/interviews with well known novelists. Very enjoyable bite sized sketches. Freeman is knowledgable and insightful. Great for dipping into when you have 10 minutes to spare.
Something to dip into - the sections are really short, 2-3 pages generally, and although they are based on interviews with the writers, the authors don't get to 'speak' much.
This book was different than I thought it would be. Basically it's a book of author interviews, some much more interesting than others.
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Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John Freeman is an award-winning writer and book critic. The former editor of Granta and onetime president of the National Book Critics Circle, he has written about books for more than two hundred publications worldwide, including The New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall
More about John Freeman...
The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox Granta 124: Travel Granta 121 : The best of young Brazilian novelists Tales of Two Cities: The Best and Worst of Times In Today's New York Granta 113: The Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists

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“Plots are interesting, characters are fascinating, scenery can be totally enveloping,” Morrison says, “but the real art is the deep structure, the way that information is revealed and withheld so that the reader gets to find out things appropriately, or in a time frame that makes it an intimate experience.” 0 likes
“True storytellers write not because they can but because they have to. There is something they want to say about the world that can only be said in a story.” 0 likes
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