Edwin Frank

Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction

Lives of the Twentieth-Century Novel


A legendary editor’s survey of the twentieth-century novel and how it shaped the fiction of the future

For more than two decades, Edwin Frank has introduced readers to forgotten or overlooked texts as director of the acclaimed publisher New York Review Books. In Stranger than Fiction, he offers a legendary editor’s survey of the key works that defined the twentieth-century novel.

Starting with Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, Frank shows how its twitchy, self-undermining narrator established a voice that would echo through the coming century. He illuminates Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway’s reinvention of the American sentence; Colette and André Gide’s subversions of traditional gender roles; and the monumental ambitions of works such as Mrs Dalloway, The Magic Mountain and The Man Without Qualities to encompass their times. Also included are Japan's Natsume Soseki and Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe, as well as Vasily Grossman, Hans Erich Nossack and Elsa Morante. Later chapters range from Ralph Ellison and Marguerite Yourcenar to Gabriel García Márquez and WG Sebald.

Frank makes sense of the century by mixing biographical portraiture, cultural history and close encounters with great works of art. In so doing he renews our appreciation of the paradigmatic art form of our times.