Very short novels

If you can’t say it in under 200 pages, is it really worth saying? These are our favourite pocket-rocket novels, guaranteed to deliver all the poignancy and punch of novels twice their length.

The Goalkeeper’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, by Peter Handke

A once-famous goalkeeper does a murder, then goes for a very long walk. OK, it’s more complicated than that. This bizarre and hypnotic 96-pager contains more philosophical insight than books ten times its length, and makes for troubling, scintillating company.

Ghachar Ghochar, by Vivek Shanbhag

In just over 100 pages, Vivek Shanbhag manages to pack in a tense family drama filled with power hierarchies, class anxieties and psychological conflict. Set in Bangalore, the story depicts an extended family who are raised from near poverty to sudden wealth by an enterprising uncle, and the familial power balances that are shifted as a result.

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr, by Tom Lee

A man wakes up to find half his face has fallen. His family, his work, his social life, his inner life: all of them take a beating in this slight but mighty and darkly comic work which also deliciously satirises the mundanity and politics of British suburbia.

West, by Carys Davies

An impossibly epic, unashamedly widescreen Western adventure about the daughter of a man who is convinced he’ll find fame and fortune across the other side of America. We see through her eyes the impact of his decision, the adventure, the abandon, the wreckage and the implications.

The Wind That Lays Waste, by Selva Almada

A priest and his daughter break down in the Argentinian desert and bump into a mechanic and his son. A night passes. Existential things happen. It’s very warm indeed.

Love, by Hanne Ostavik

In the course of a single evening, a mother and son experience wildly different emotional truths as they go about their separate lives: the son, on the eve of his birthday, is waiting for his mother to return from the shops with birthday cake ingredients, while she takes a turn past the travelling funfair to meet a man. Sparse, dark and tense, this is a relationship in microcosm, a beautiful dissection of bigger themes than its pages suggest.

The Appointment, by Katharina Volckmer

Caustic and sharply hilarious, this merciless and perfectly formed novelette is one brilliant monologue, the results of a woman’s single appointment with her doctor – expect blazing ruminations on shame, sex and squirrel tails.

Buy every book on this list and save 10%!

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