A novel must contain many things to hold the reader’s attention: compelling plot, relatable characters and distinct settings. But another, sometimes underrated, feature is narrative direction. It can be overstated for purpose, or discreet so as not to be obtrusive, but narration is usually a complex feature worth investigation.
Each of our bookclub meets has a chair, who, like a narrator, engages the readers and steers them through investigation of their chosen book – its construction, its relevance, its critical review – for a fuller understanding of the work.
After a year of particularly attention-grabbing books, when we each had much to say and much to question, we are more appreciative of this direction; we have discovered it is more important than ever to focus our discussions. It is easy to react and to meander with our interpretations, but to retain focus and direction is to fully examine a topic or aspect that may influence a later conversation.
The Man Who Saw Everything – Deborah Levy
Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
Educated – Tara Westover
Normal People – Sally Rooney
American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins
Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
The Memory Police – Yoko Ego
Driving To Treblinka – Diana Witchell
Born A Crime – Trevor Noah
Lost Children Archive – Valeria Luiselli