Short Novels for a Great Weekend Read

You Can Read Any of These Short Novels in a Weekend

These books may be brief, but they use their limited word count to demonstrate the power of concision.

By Bethanne Patrick

The novelist Cynan Jones once wrote that in brief fiction, “every word is doing a job. So pay attention. A short novel is an event, not a trip.” The Swedish Academy recognized that this week when they awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature to the French writer Annie Ernaux, whose famously short, unsparing books about women, sex, and shame challenge collective notions of memory. Some breathtakingly brief novels are among the best English literature has to offer (think Giovanni’s Room, or Wide Sargasso Sea). The form concentrates language and plot so tightly that rereading is a pleasure.

Below are seven books that each require no more than a weekend or so to finish. That doesn’t mean they’re superficial: Instead, they are examples of the power and range of short novels. They come from multiple languages over more than a century and a half, and they excel at grappling with complex situations without overcomplicated writing. Read the full list at the Atlantic.

© Literary Affairs, 2005-2023. All Rights Reserved.