Book Blitz

Fall Fiction Week

Slate’s second annual look at the novel.

Welcome to Slate’s second annual Fall Fiction Week. We’ll be publishing reviews of new novels, revisiting a few classics, and writing about how we read fiction now. You can find an updated list of articles on this page each day. And don’t forget that you can join the discussion in the Fray by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.

The week kicks off with an open letter from Stephen Metcalf to the Booker Prize committee. “Dear Booker Committee,” he writes, “I wholeheartedly recommend that you deprive Zadie Smith’s new novel, On Beauty, of your esteemed award.” Christopher Hitchens speculates that Arthur Koestler’s “milestone” anti-Stalinist novel Darkness at Noon may actually have had the curious effect of making its readers want to be Communists. And J.D. Connor celebrates E.L. Doctorow’s new novel, The March: “The book may come in for some sniping because it doesn’t cater to the maddeningly specific battlefield Baedeker approach,” he writes. “You won’t learn how to clean a rifle or make hardtack. But you will learn how people might grapple with the evanescence of ‘the new way of living.’ “


Later in the week, Alana Newhouse wonders why postfeminist readers still celebrate Herman Wouk’s conservative novel Marjorie Morningstar. Meghan O’Rourke chronicles her summer of reading Faulkner with the Oprah Book Club. And, writing about book reviewing, Francine Prose asks a question that’s been on all our minds: Why should plot—rather than style—seem so essential to any discussion of fiction? Enjoy!


Dear Booker Committee: Is Zadie Smith really ready receive your esteemed prize?” by Stephen Metcalf, posted Sept. 13, 2005.

Marching Orders: E. L. Doctorow and the problem of historical novels,” by J.D. Connor, posted Sept. 13, 2005.

Darkness at Noon: Arthur Koestler’s milestone anti-Stalinist novel,” by Christopher Hitchens, posted Sept. 13, 2005.


The Plot Doesn’t Thicken: Comparing J.M. Coetzee’s Slow Man and Denton Welch’s A Voice Through a Cloud,” by Francine Prose, posted Sept. 14, 2005.

Marjorie Morningstar: The conservative novel that liberal feminists love,” by Alana Newhouse, posted Sept. 14, 2005.


Reading Faulkner With Oprah: It’s underrated,” by Meghan O’Rourke, posted Sept. 15, 2005.