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Epistolary Novels

Recently I discovered that I was a fan of epistolary novels. I actually came to this discovery by accident since (to be honest) prior to a few weeks ago, I had no idea what an epistolary novel was. I am sure I had heard the term before but never really knew what it meant. This realization came about while reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Part of the book involves different characters writing to each other through a series of letters. During this part of the book I got to thinking how many other books I have read and enjoyed that are written in part or entirely in letters, emails, or journal entries. Some of those books include The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I decided to look up books written in letters and every list I found had the word epistolary in the title. I looked up the word and according to the Encyclopedia Britannica website, an epistolary novel is “a novel told through the medium of letters written by one or more of the characters.” I have now decided to read as many epistolary novels as I can. Here are the first two I have decided to read:

The Screwtape Letters
By C.S. Lewis
A shrewd old devil, Screwtape, writes letters of encouragement from hell to a less experienced devil who is on earth hunting for those susceptible to temptation

The White Tiger
By Aravind Adiga
Bangalore, India. Over the course of seven days, Balram Halwai, a rickshaw-puller’s son, writes to visiting Chinese premier Jiabao about his transformation from chauffeur to entrepreneur. Balram–sought for police questioning about a brutal murder–embodies the tumultuousness of modern India. Some violence and some strong language. Man Booker Prize. Bestseller. 2008

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