I love reading novels about writers. A writer writing about another writer sounds intriguing, and if they do it well, we readers end up reading an exciting book. I still remember reading some of the books on this list; they were so good I wanted to read more novels about writers.
The books on this list are not necessarily about writing. Some are incredible stories about writers’ lives, and in some, the character happens to be a writer. These novels about writers are all wonderful, I promise. And I made sure every reader would find a book to their liking, so this list of novels about writers is highly eclectic. Do you read novels about writers? I hope you’ll after checking out these books. Enjoy!
Novels About Writers
Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
It is 1964: Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited and notices a heart stoppingly beautiful woman. When he kisses Beverly Keating, his host’s wife, he sets in motion the joining of two families, whose shared fate will be defined on a day seven years later. In 1988, Franny Keating, now twenty-four, is working as a cocktail waitress in Chicago. When she meets the famous author Leon Posen one night at the bar, and tells him about her family, she unwittingly relinquishes control over their story. A popular one among novels about writers.
Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee
Since 1982, J. M. Coetzee has been dazzling the literary world. After eight novels that have won, among other awards, two Booker Prizes, and most recently, the Nobel Prize for literature, J.M. Coetzee has once again crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale. Told through an ingenious series of formal addresses, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman’s life as a mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling. For the Coetzee fans among novels about writers.
The Master – Colm Toibin
Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of Henry James, a man born into one of America’s first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers. With stunningly resonant prose, “The Master is unquestionably the work of a first-rate novelist: artful, moving, and very beautiful” (The New York Times Book Review). The emotional intensity of this portrait is riveting. For fans of Henry James among novels about writers.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald – Therese Anne Fowler
A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald.
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame.
Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes. An exciting one among novels about writers.
The Book of Salt – Monique Truong
In a compelling novel that takes the reader on a strange journey from Indochina to Paris, the Vietnamese cook for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas reveals his own fascinating story-Paris, 1934. Binh has accompanied his employers to the station for their departure to America. His own destination is unclear: will he go with his ‘Mesdames’, stay in France, or return to his native Vietnam?
Binh fled his homeland in disgrace, leaving behind his malevolent charlatan of a father and his self-sacrificing mother. For five years, he has been the personal cook at the famous apartment on the rue de Fleurs. Binh is a lost soul, an exile and an alien, a man of musings, memories and possibly lies- Tastes, oceans, sweat, tears – The Book of Salt is a an inspired novel about food and exile, love and betrayal. For the food lovers among novels about writers.
An Unfinished Story – Boo Walker
It’s been three years since Claire Kite lost her husband, David, an aspiring novelist, in a tragic car accident. Claire finally finds the courage to move on; then she discovers among the remnants of her shattered world her husband’s last manuscript. It’s intimate, stirring—and unfinished. An idea comes to her…What if she can find someone to give David’s novel the ending it deserves?
Whitaker Grant is famous for his one and only bestselling novel—a masterpiece that became a hit film. But after being crippled by the pressure of success and his failed marriage, Whitaker retreated from the public eye in his native St. Petersburg, Florida. Years later, he’s struggling through a deep midlife crisis. Until he receives an intriguing request from a lonely widow. To honor David’s story, Whitaker must understand, heart and soul, the man who wrote it and the woman he left behind.
There’s more to the novel than anyone dreamed. Something personal. Something true. Maybe, in bringing a chapter of David’s life to a close, Claire and Whitaker can find hope for a new beginning. An intriguing one among novels about writers.
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family–fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates…
Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past–and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret’s own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfield’s spell? A gripping mystery among novels about writers.
The World According To Garp – John Irving
This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields—a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes—even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with “lunacy and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. A popular title among novels about writers.
Writers & Lovers – Lily King
Recently out of a devastating love affair and mourning the loss of her beloved mum, Casey is lost. The novel she has been writing for six years isn’t going anywhere, her debt is soaring, and at thirty-one, with all her friends getting married and having kids, she feels too old for things to be this way.
Then she meets Silas. He is kind, handsome, interested. But only a few weeks later, Oscar – older, fascinating, troubled – walks into her life, his two boys in tow. Suddenly Casey finds herself at the point of a love triangle, torn between two very different relationships that promise two very different futures. And she’s still got to write that book. A contemporary among novels about writers.
Wonder Boys – Michael Chabon
At once a deft parody of the American fame factory and a piercing portrait of young and old desire, this novel introduces two unforgettable characters: Grady Tripp, a former publishing prodigy now lost in a fog of pot and passion and stalled in the midst of his endless second book, and Grady’s student, James Leer, a budding writer obsessed with Hollywood self-destruction and struggling with his own searching heart. An exciting one among novels about writers.
The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
“This is a record of hate far more than of love,” writes Maurice Bendrix in the opening passages of The End of the Affair, and it is a strange hate indeed that compels him to set down the retrospective account of his adulterous affair with Sarah Miles.
Now, a year after Sarah’s death, Bendrix seeks to exorcise the persistence of his passion by retracing its course from obsessive love to love-hate. At first, he believes he hates Sarah and her husband, Henry. Yet as he delves deeper into his emotional outlook, Bendrix’s hatred shifts to the God he feels has broken his life, but whose existence at last comes to recognize. Forthe readers in and out of love among novels about writers.
Flowers of Darkness – Tatiana De Rosnay
Author Clarissa Katsef is struggling to write her next book. She’s just snagged a brand new artist residency in an ultra-modern apartment, with a view of all of Paris, a dream for any novelist in search of tranquility. But since moving in, she has had the feeling of being watched. Is there reason to be paranoid? Or is her distraction and discomfort the result of her husband’s recent shocking betrayal? Or is that her beloved Paris lies altered outside her windows? A city that will never be quite the same, a city with a scar at its center?
Stuck inside, in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, Clarissa enlists her beloved granddaughter in her investigation of the mysterious, high tech building even as she finds herself drawn back into the orbit of her first husband who is still the one who knows her most intimately, who shares the past grief that she has never quite let go. A mystery among novels about writers.
Oracle Night – Paul Auster
Several months into his recovery from a near-fatal illness, novelist Sidney Orr enters a stationery shop in Brooklyn and buys a blue notebook. It is September 18, 1982, and for the next nine days Orr will live under the spell of this blank book, trapped inside a world of eerie premonitions and bewildering events that threaten to destroy his marriage and undermine his faith in reality. An interesting one among novels about writers.
Emerence is a domestic servant – strong, fierce, eccentric, and with a reputation for being a first-rate housekeeper. When Magda, a young Hungarian writer, takes her on she never imagines how important this woman will become to her. It takes twenty years for a complex trust between them to be slowly, carefully built. But Emerence has secrets and vulnerabilities beneath her indomitable exterior which will test Magda’s friendship and change the complexion of both their lives irreversibly. An incredible book among novels about writers.
Hotel du Lac – Anita Brookner
In the novel that won her the Booker Prize and established her international reputation, Anita Brookner finds a new vocabulary for framing the eternal question “Why love?” It tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a pseudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own novels, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to resore her to her senses.
But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love’s casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure. Beautifully observed, witheringly funny, Hotel du Lac is Brookner at her most stylish and potently subversive. One of my faves among novels about writers.
The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions. A modern classic among novels about writers.
Mr. Gwyn – Alessandro Baricco
After celebrated author Jasper Gwyn suddenly and publicly announces that he will never write another book, he embarks on a strange new career path as a “copyist,” holding thirty-day sittings in a meticulously appointed room and producing, at the end, brief but profoundly rich portraits in prose. The surprising, beautiful, and even frightening results are received with rapture by their subjects—among them Gwyn’s devoted assistant, Rebecca; a beautiful fabric importer; a landscape painter; Gwyn’s own literary agent; two wealthy newlyweds; a tailor to the Queen; and a very dangerous nineteen-year-old.
Then Gwyn disappears, leaving behind only a short note to his assistant—and the portraits. As Rebecca studies his words, she realizes that the mystery is larger than the simple fact of Gwyn’s whereabouts, and she begins to unravel a lifetime’s worth of clues left by a man who saw so much but said so little, a man whose solitude masked a heart as hungry as hers. One of my faves among novels about writers.
The Information – Martin Amis
Once close friends, writers Gwyn Barry and Richard Tull now find themselves in fierce competition.
While Tull has spiralled into a mire of literary obscurity and belletristic odd jobs, Barry’s atrocious attempts at novels have brought him untold success. Prizes, prestige and wealth abound, and from far below Tull can only watch, stewing in torment.
Until, that is, resentment turns to revenge. Consumed by the question of how one writer can really hurt another, Tull’s quest for an answer will unleash increasingly violent urges on both writers’ lives. An exciting one among novels about writers.
Death in Venice – Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was the 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, so noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. Death in Venice, this tale of so forbidden love which has long intrigued the reading public, was his early masterpiece. A classic among novels about writers.
Misery – Stephen King
Paul Sheldon is a bestselling novelist who has finally met his number one fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes, and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also furious that the author has killed off her favorite character in his latest book. Annie becomes his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.
Annie wants Paul to write a book that brings Misery back to life—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an axe. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty. For the horror fans among novels about writers.
Check out my other lists about books!
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- Novels Under 150 Pages
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Are there any novels about writers you’d like to add to this list? Would you please share in the comments section below?