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The Novel

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,496 ratings  ·  273 reviews
In this riveting novel, James A. Michener, America's preeminent bestselling author, plunges us into the exciting world he knows so well: the world of books. Here is the fascinating story of a writer, editor, critic, and reader locked in a desperate scenario of life, death, love and truth.

Lukas Yoder, a novelist who has had a long, successful career, has written what he bel
Mass Market Paperback, US / Canada, 448 pages
Published July 20th 1992 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,496 ratings  ·  273 reviews

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Lisa Reads & Reviews
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary

THE NOVEL has 4 parts: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic, and The Reader. Loosely, it follows the development of what may be the final novel of an esteemed and popular writer who rose through a traditional publishing career.

In the first 2 sections, we follow a novel from a professional, workhorse of a writer, to the hands of the writer's long-time editor. These sections were interesting to me, for Michener addresses issues of the publishing industry such as conglomerate takeovers to the care/f
Nov 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
Somewhere around the page 200 mark, The Novel goes from being mildly entertaining to being downright unpalatable. I'd like to think it's because booger-brained critic Striebert was introduced, but even after skipping through his section, which consisted of Michener masturbating over literature, I still wanted to hurl the book across the room. The only character I found interesting or had any sympathy for at all was the Mennonite oaf, Applebutter. I was hoping Michener would write a spin-off seri ...more
C.L. Hoang
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is quite a departure from the "standard" Michener novel: it's contemporary instead of historical, and it has an autobiographical feel to it rather than being the usual sweeping epic Michener was famous for. It presents a road map of the birth of a book from concept to manuscript to final product, as seen from the perspectives of all the people involved: the writer, the editor, the critic, the reader. Since I'm a writer myself, "The Novel" definitely grabs my interest and holds it becau ...more
Apryl Anderson
It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything written by an artist. Most everything has been ‘classic’, in other words, outdated bestsellers. In contrast, this was a book by a very hardworking and gifted author.
It was fascinating to read the points-of-view of four different, but interrelated characters. Different in occupation, socio-economic cultural upbringing, experience; but the same in regards to setting and a relationship with a particular author. To go deeper into the author’s purpose i
I don't often go for Michener novels because who has that kind of time? But "The Novel" is a great page-turner of a read. Written in four parts (a la The Sound and the Fury), this inside look at the world of publishing, wrapped around a murder mystery, delivers a lot in only 435 pages.

Of particular interest was the section written by "the critic". His chart of 'The Doomed House of Atreus' and his comments about Erich Auerbach are pretty much spot on and have spurred me on to deepening my reading
Lynn G.
My history with James Michener has been hit or miss. Some of his other books seemed overly long, filled with too much description, shallow characters, or even shallower storylines. From some I gleaned knowledge of people, places, and things that I had known little of previously. However, The Novel struck a chord. Perhaps because I lived in Pennsylvania briefly I felt connected to the characters and setting or maybe The Novel was the right book at the right time. Whatever the reason, I enjoye ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I didn't appreciate this book until reaching the critics section. This is where Michener's genius in characterization comes through as we see him legitimately address problems that his own critics have heaped upon his work. (Namely that he is long winded and overly descriptive).

Michener does not use the critic character to take his revenge, but instead critiques his own writing style very adroitly. I believe that this stands as a work of an aging author to place his past body of work in its pro
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't imagine anyone who loves to read , who is interested or wished they could have been a writer and wants to know what the process of writing takes from its first thought right through to its publishing not liking this book. i was a huge fan of Michener back in the 70,s and starting with THE DRIFTERS ( one of my all time favorite novels) i read probably 8 of his books. i haven't read anything by him for years and decided to read one of his later works, this book being the last one he wrote ...more
Pamela Trawick
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, 2009
Debated about rating it higher. Good coverage of books, publishing, and who decides what's a good book. Why should "they" get to decide what everyone else should think is good? That always bugged me as an English major. This book makes you think it through for yourself and decide your criteria and whether or not you're going to be bullied into conforming. ...more
Mike Adamchuk
A character driven novel about a novel. Michener interweaves the lives of a novelist, his editor, a critic and a book reader. He gives the backstory of each character and how they got to where they are now. Very readable
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book about books...about books (sometimes). Lets just say it helps to like books when reading this heady story about writers, publishers, critics and Pennsylvania dutch country. The story was really somewhat a deep portrayal of a three people that end up interacting over many years in personal and professional ways, but nicely touches on "finding your place" in many ways, love and loss, professional growth and envy and also goes deep on description of the area around Kutztown college, which I ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is his best novel by far! He does a great study and description of each viewpoint in the literary world: novelist, publisher, critic, reader. And he saves the best for last. I'll buy this one and use it as reference for "The Great Books" of modern history as he casts their seeded names across each section. This fit well with the Hemingway reading I was doing because of the Critic's connection to Ira Pound, the 1930s poet-mentor of so many famous artists. He is important because he committed ...more
Doris Jean
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed "The Novel" and I learned how the author described the writing, the editing, the criticism, and the reading viewpoints. It was a good over-all description of publishing a book from beginning to end.

I think any writer or would-be author would enjoy it for the descriptions of the stages of writing a book.

I think anyone would enjoy it just for the pleasure of following the story. I always like James Michener's stories and I appreciate his research and detail which I always find tru
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cathy Lipscomb
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although fiction, an interesting look into book publishing through the eyes of the author, editor, critic, and reader. It also delves into the deeper role of writing and literature in society. I'll be thinking about this one for a while. ...more
Leslie Wilkins
Oct 07, 2012 marked it as to-read
One of the books Cheryl Strayed deemed important enough to carry on the PCT.
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Interesting insights into the publishing industry but I couldn't get past the first 200 pages. The narrative got so boring I had to give up. ...more
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Apparently I’m a Michener fan now. Who would’ve thought?

Here’s the thing: I probably won’t read every Michener novel. I picked Hawai’i because I love Hawai’i, and I was fascinated at the idea of a book starting millennia ago and bringing it up to the present. Or the present as it was when the book was written, in the 1950s.

Of course this one caught me because it was about books, and I’m a sucker for books about books. And I was intrigued at the conceit: tracking the course of a novel through fou
Apr 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
I liked the book for its history of the Amish/Mennonite area of PA and the insight into how books are published. I had a little trouble getting into it at first, as there was so much pedantic material, but once I got to the chapter relating to the editor, I found it more interesting. The book is divided into 4 sections--first, from the perspective of the writer, Lukas Yoder and his wife, Emma; the second part revolved around Yvonne M., Mr. Yoder's editor and how she came to be an editor and also ...more
Is it possible to give zero stars? Because this book totally deserves ZERO stars. When will I learn that James A. Michener couldn't write his way out of a paper bag? THIS BOOK SUCKS!

I gave up about halfway through; originally thinking that at least I wanted to find out what happened, but by halfway through, I realized that nothing was going to happen, and furthermore, i didn't give a damn what might happen.

Pretty much no plot, no character development, no through-line, nothing. And the irony is
3.5 first two-thirds
4.0 last third

This is not Michener's typical saga, but in the end, I was left with the same 'sense of loss' that I've always felt when reading one of his books. After getting to know the people and becoming familiar with the setting, I miss being able to pick up the book and find out what's happening with the characters.

There should have been an Author's Note explaining how this reflects Michener's own writing experiences and his own beliefs about great novels. (Much of the s
Jun 12, 2021 marked it as done-not-finishing
Am surprised I'm doing this, but life is short, and Michener is long - the two are directly related. ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read this book in high school, when it was assigned to me in my senior year English class. In the decade since then, I've read some worse books, but not many. The Novel is split into four parts, with four viewpoint characters: "The Writer," "The Editor," "The Critic," and "The Reader." Of these four, the editor is by far the most interesting and realistic; she's also deeply underserved by her own narrative, which is essentially the story of her constantly giving herself over to terrible men, a ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I've read many Michener novels and I enjoy them, but he always has the tone of a strict maiden aunt who insists that one sits up straight and eats all of one's vegetables, but does not think it too unseemly if you decide to have a couple of jiggers of whiskey following the meal. This one is much the same.

Unusual for Michener, he pulls off writing in several voices, assuming the supposed reactions of four characters: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic and the Reader. The Reader section is the onl
Lynne Spreen
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Normally, I would love a Michener novel, but this was self-indulgent and boring. "Yoder" reflected the mindset of an elite author whose world revolved around him, and who expected same. The more current reality is that of a writer working with much less support, let alone adulation. I respect what Michener did (I loved Centennial) but I stopped reading at about the 25% mark. ...more
Jul 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Michener I've read -- a solid story of the publishing industry from four different perspectives. It kept my attention, and was a decent summer read. ...more
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
This is average Michener, but still worthwhile. About a writer's life, which he knew well. I should reread it myself now that I am more active as an author. ...more
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Michener is a good writer who attempts historical novels. I find him somewhat laborious to wade through, but he does introduce us to new venues.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
James Michener was a fascinating author in that, for the majority of his works, he always made a particular geographical location the main focus of his books rather than a person or a group of people. We would normally read about all the things - even from before the recorded history of the place - that were indigenous to the particular area. He would usually focus on a family, or a group of individuals that were living in the area, and then tell the tale of the family throughout the proceeding ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first book finished in 2019 and it was terrific!!!
The Novel by James Michener has four parts: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic and The Reader. Each section was so interesting, helped by Michener’s exquisite writing. This author can definitely write a story!!!
Basically, the four parts go into detail about the work required to make and publish a book and who is affected by the book. The Writer was really interesting because I got to the see the mindset of someone in action, writing a story, a
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for

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