Monthly Archives: March 2014

John Williams’ 1965 Stoner: An Afterlife

1“Whatever the reasons for its cooler reception in the US, I don’t agree that the novel is ‘minor’; nor do I think it is ‘great’ in the way that, say, Gatsby or Updike’s Rabbit quartet are great. I think Williams himself got it right: it is ‘substantially good.’ It is good, and it has considerable substance, and gravity, and continuation in the mind afterwards. And it is a true ‘reader’s novel,’ in the sense that its narrative reinforces the very value of reading and study. Many will be reminded of their own lectoral epiphanies, of those moments when the magic of literature first made some kind of distant sense, first suggested that this might be the best way of understanding life. And readers are also aware that this sacred inner space, in which reading and ruminating and being oneself happen, is increasingly threatened by what Stoner refers to as ‘the world’ – which is nowadays full of hectic interference with, and constant surveillance of, the individual. Perhaps something of this anxiety lies behind the renaissance of the novel. But you should – indeed must – find out for yourself.”

December 13, 2013 – The Guardian

Stoner: the must-read novel of 2013 by Julian Barnes


January 22, 2014 – livemint

John Williams’ ‘Stoner’: A triumph of literature over common sense by G. Sampath


June 6, 2013 – The Millions

A Forgotten Bestseller: The Saga of John Williams’s Stoner by Claire Cameron


August 23, 2013 – Die Presse

“Stoner”: Spröde, aber meisterlich by Eva Steindorfer

Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone

1“The stakes in college novels usually run to lost jobs and broken marriages. Stone immediately ups the ante with his title. Maud Stack is the beautiful and brilliant junior English major who will die. Will it be at the hands of the mumbling schizophrenic who roams the quad or one of the angry townies Maud must pass by on the way to class? Will she be murdered by one of the Right to Life fanatics who threaten her because of the mocking and blasphemous essay she wrote for the campus newspaper? Will she be killed by her advisor and lover, professor Steve Brookman, desperate to end his affair with Maud because his wife is pregnant? Through the first half of the novel, Stone keeps in play all these possibilities, any one of which would be fairly easy to understand in cultural or psychological terms.”November 18, 2013 – The Daily Beast

Of Sin and College: Robert Stone’s ‘Death of a Black-Haired Girl’ by Tom LeClair

December 1, 2013 – The Columbus Dispatch Sunday

Death of the Black-Haired Girl: Big mystery on campus makes a taut thriller by  Margaret Quamme

Michael Hingston’s The Dilettantes

1“Back in April, the Guardian called for the death of the campus novel, claiming the genre has become too crowded, too well-trodden, with writers like Chad Harbach, Bret Easton Ellis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Donna Tartt, and Don DeLillo all shoving each other on the way to the literary rez caf. But six months ago the Guardian didn’t have its hands on Georgia Straight reviewer Michael Hingston’s satire The Dilettantes, a very funny debut that explores a whole, ridiculous new facet of the academic world: a university newspaper.”


September 12, 2013 – Edmonton Journal

Campus novel at top of its class by Karen Virag

September 27, 2013 – The Globe and Mail

Michael Hingston’s Novel Can’t Quite Transcend the Irony It’s Supposed to be Skewering by Emily M. Keeler

October 2, 2013 –

Michael Hingston takes on the college campus with The Dilettantes by Jennifer Croll

“more tragedy than comedy”

1“Is it possible to write a campus novel now? Many relied on the idea that universities were unregulated bubbles of excess, privilege and poison, populated by opportunists who abused their power in order to protect themselves from their own academic and sexual insecurities. A forgotten world, no doubt.”

August 12, 2013 – The Guardian

No laughing matter: why the university novel is now more tragedy than comedy by  Jonathan Wolff

Susan Choi’s My Education


“Susan Choi’s fourth novel, ‘My Education,’ is a tricky book to categorize. On the one hand, it’s a campus novel, narrated by Regina Gottlieb, a graduate student in literature who falls under the sway of a charismatic professor and his wife at a university a lot like Cornell in the early 1990s. At the same time, this is just the background against which the larger story unfolds.”



June 27, 2013 – L.A. Times

Susan Choi is flirting with disaster–and love–in her new novel by David L. Ulin

Charles Nevin on the past and future of campus fiction

16 June 2013 – The Guardian

How Tom Sharpe earned his seat at high table of campus fiction by Charles Nevin 

‘Harvard Square’ by André Aciman

1“But I couldn’t forget my days and evenings at Café Algiers where I’d come because that small underground café at the time was the only place this side of the Atlantic I could almost call home. The smell of Turkish coffee, the French songs they played here, the verbal fireballs of a Tunisian nicknamed Monsieur Kalashnikov and the chatter of the men and women who’d gather around when he presided, down to the clammy, wooden dampness of my tiny square table next to which hung a makeshift poster of a deserted beach in a coastal town called Tipaza, its turquoise sea forever limpid and beckoning, everything in this small coffee shop reminded me of a Middle East I thought I had lost and put behind me and suddenly realized I wasn’t ready to let go of. At least not just yet. Not for Harvard, not for America, not for anyone, not even for the children I wished one day to be a father to. I was not like everyone else in Cambridge, I was not one of them, was not in the system, had never been. This wasn’t really my home, might never be. These weren’t my people, were never going to be. This wasn’t my life, wasn’t my birthplace, wasn’t even me, couldn’t be me. This was the summer of 1977.” – André Aciman, Harvard Square 

Taxi Driver. ‘Harvard Square,’ by André Aciman


May 3, 2013. The New York Times

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

1“Campus novels present us with a procession of wide-eyed characters, buoyed by youthful idealism, navigating their way through protest marches, student union discos and relationship disasters – and managing to find time for lectures somewhere in between. Starring myriad characters from bumbling professors to party animals and pseudo-intellectuals, the novels sketch out the ups and downs of the years between anxious first day and eventual graduation. And I think, as we share the protagonists’ sexual explorations, drug experimentation and academic discoveries, we are helped towards understanding what we’re experiencing a little bit better.”

16 April 2013 –

Once upon a Time on a Campus Near You: Sharing the journeys of fictional students can throw a new light on what you’re going through by Tara McEvoy


The End?



12013 – The Guardian

Last rites for the campus novel by John Dugdale

“Though currently very much on-trend, the campus novel is now approaching retirement age.”

Middle C by William H. Gass


“When Professor Joseph Skizzen walked into his first class at Whittlebauer College—seventeen students had signed up for Trends in Modern Music, and they were all there—his chest could scarcely hold his heart, and he heard its throb as if each beat were being made by menacing native feet for a jungle movie. Your job, he said to himself, is to make them choke on their own snores. He had been an indifferent student himself.” – The Middle C  by William H. Gass

March 28, 2013 – The New York Times

Holding the Key: ‘Middle C,’ by William H. Gass by Cynthia Ozick