'It's impossible to read this book and not want immediately to turn back to the authors he discusses and read more of them, more closely, yourself' Scotsman
'Witty, concise and composed with a lovely lightness of touch, How Fiction Works should delight and enlighten practising novelists, would-be novelists and all passionate readers of fiction' The Economist
How Fiction Works is a scintillating and searching study of the main elements of fiction, such as narrative, detail, characterisation, dialogue, realism and style. In his first full-length book of criticism, one of the most prominent critics of our time takes the machinery of storytelling apart to ask a series of fundamental questions: What do we mean when we say we 'know' a character? What constitutes a 'telling' detail? When is a metaphor successful? Why do most endings of novels disappoint?
With examples ranging from Homer to Beatrix Potter, and the Bible to John Le CarrÃ©, the result is a both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, it will be enlightening to writers, readers and anyone interested in what happens on the page.
'This small, measured book about the mechanics of storytelling is something of a litcric masterclass' Time Out
'Exceptionally illuminating... It should be compulsory reading for anyone in the reviewing trade and committed to memory before aspiring writers put pen to paper. For those who intend to pursue the underrated calling of reading fiction without wishing to add to its ranks, it will not only make reading more pleasurable, but articulate what you may have felt but never been able to express' The Heraldshow more