Lives of the Novelists : A History of Fiction in 294 Lives
Booklist Reviews 2012 April #2
Presented as an "idiosyncratic history of fiction in English," this covers novels from the seventeenth century to the present day. Sutherland, a well-known critic and professor of modern English literature at University College–London, has selected 294 authors representing a broad range of fiction genres and cheerfully declares that, in so doing, he has deliberately omitted many worthy writers in order to include often overlooked names that have had a lasting impact and who have frequently led lives as interesting as those of their characters. Writers as diverse as V. C. Andrews, Louis L'Amour, J. M. Barrie, and Stephen King appear along with more conventional selections, such as James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Mark Twain. Written in an engaging manner with clear language, entries range in length from one to five pages and are appended with the author's full name, a must-read text, and a go-to biographical reference for readers. Articles are arranged in chronological order by birth year, opening with John Bunyan (b. 1628), and concluding with Rana Dasgupta (b. 1971). Some authors are presented in groupings of two or three; the Brontë siblings are covered in one entry, while F. Scott Fitzgerald appears twice, with Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. A comprehensive index of persons named is included. Recommended for students and general audiences—fiction fans will appreciate seeing this in the circulating stacks. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.