Saturday, March 30, 2019

Five top epistolary novels

Shelley Wood is a writer, journalist, and editor. Her work has appeared in the New Quarterly, Room, the Antigonish Review, Causeway Lit, and the Globe and Mail (UK). Born and raised in Vancouver, she has lived in Montreal, Cape Town, and the Middle East, and now has a home, a man, and a dog in British Columbia, Canada. Her debut (epistolary) novel is The Quintland Sisters.

At LitHub Wood tagged her top five epistolary reads, including:
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer

It’s a stretch to classify The Sympathizer as an epistolary novel, but it meets my standards on several counts. The novel, which opens in the flaming finale of the Vietnam War, takes the form of a sprawling written confession. “Dear Commandant,” writes the anonymous prisoner, who goes on to detail his life as a dual agent, both as an aide to a South Vietnam general with ties to the CIA and as a spy for Communist forces in North Vietnam. Whereas the classic epistolary novel reveals the true character of the writer through what he or she details about her subjects (or leaves out), the rhetorical device here is a narrator who tells us too much so as to tell us nothing. His lush, longwinded confession withholds even the names of his associates and, as we learn, serves to muddy the truth of his misdeeds both from his captors and himself.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue