Five recent novels about writers & writing

The lives of writers, real or imagined, can make for fascinating novels, often dwelling in the intersection between art and life, between creativity and domesticity. Here we recommend five recent novels that feature writers as key characters. You can also browse our collection of novels about writers below to find even more recommendations.


Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami (translated by Sam Bett & David Boyd)

On a hot summer’s day in Tokyo, thirty-year-old writer Natsu is welcoming her older sister Makiko, and Makiko’s teenage daughter Midoriko for a visit. It is a strained reunion: Midoriko has refused to communicate for the past six months except via writing, and Makiko’s ulterior motive for the trip is to get her breasts surgically enhanced. Ten years later, Natsu, now in her forties, and a successful writer, is grappling with her decision to remain childless.

Breasts and Eggs is a radical and intimate portrait of contemporary working class womanhood in Japan. Author Mieko Kawakami has emerged as one of Japan’s most critically acclaimed authors, and this is her English-language debut.


Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Aspiring writer Casey is living alone in a potting shed, grieving the death of her mother, trying not to think about her ex-lover, earning a pittance as a waitress, and labouring over a novel that she began six years ago and that now feels unbearably futile. Then, she meets Silas. He is kind, handsome, interested. A few short weeks later, she meets Oscar, an older writer and recently widowed father of two. Suddenly, Casey finds herself at the point of a love triangle, stuck between two very different relationships that promise two very different futures.

One of the most raved-about fiction books of the year, Lily King’s debut is a gorgeous deep dive into grief, love and creativity, and has earned the praise of such luminaries as Tessa Hadley, Elizabeth Strout and Ann Patchett.


Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky

Rachel Klein never meant to kiss her creative writing professor, but with his long eyelashes, silky hair and sad life story, she does… Zahid Azzam never planned to become a houseguest in his student’s sprawling Connecticut home, but with the sparkling swimming pool, the endless supply of strawberries and Rachel’s beautiful mother, he does… Becca Klein never thought she’d have a love affair so soon after her husband leaves her for a younger woman, but when her daughter’s professor walks into her home, she does…

In the words of Roxanne Gay: “This is a vicious little novel, smart, efficient, mean, full of terrible people behaving terribly, incisive observations about a certain class of people pretending they had no hand in the state of the world. Writers don’t come off too well, either. Absolutely delightful.”


Indelicacy by Amina Cain

Vitória works as a cleaning woman at a museum of art, and nurtures an aspiration to be a writer. She escapes by by marrying a rich man, but having gained a husband, a house, high society and a maid, she finds that her new life of privilege is no less constrained. Not only has she taken up different forms of time-consuming labour – social and erotic – but she is now, however passively, forcing other women to clean up after her. Perhaps a more drastic solution is necessary?

Reminiscent of a lost Victorian classic in miniature yet containing a modern sensibility, Indelicacy is at once a ghost story without a ghost, a fable without a moral and a matter-of-fact investigation into the barriers faced by women in both life and literature.


Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette)

Minor Detail revolves around a brutal crime committed one year after the War of 1948 – which Palestinians mourn as the Nakba, the catastrophe that led to the displacement, exile, and refugeedom of more than 700,000 people, and which Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah reads about this ‘minor detail’ in a larger context, and becomes fascinated by it to the point of obsession.

Not strictly a book ‘about a writer’, Minor Detail is a stunning and provocative exploration of what it means to tell the stories of others, especially those who have suffered, and whether it is ever truly possible.

Browse the collection below for more recommendations.

Writers & Lovers

Writers & Lovers

Lily King

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