The Novelist

by L. L. Barkat

The main character in The Novelist, Laura, writes poetry as easily as she has conversations. However, when she is challenged by her friend Megan, a successful businesswoman and author, to write a novel and complete it by September, Laura has no idea how to go about writing it or what to write about.

As Laura considers the challenge, she “consults” well-known authors and their guidance for how to write a novel, including James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure and Letters to a Young Novelist, by Mario Vargas Llosa. By the end of the novella, she takes Mario Vargas Llosa’s advice – no one can teach anyone how to create and a novice fiction writer should “just sit down and write.”

Laura struggles with life, even to make herself a cup of tea. So begins a journey of self-discovery. Eventually, she is able to see herself for who she is and understands what she needs to do.

One of the things I like most about how The Novelist is written is how Barkat brings herself into the story. Laura refers to LL Barkat’s book Rumors of Water, becoming one of the “mentor” authors that Laura “consults”. The novella is also sprinkled with lots of poetry, giving readers a glimpse into Barkat’s writings as a poet.