Radio 2 Book Club: The Novel of the Century

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The Novel of the Century by David Bellos will feature on the Radio 2 Fact not Fiction Book Club on Thursday 16 March.

We also have an exclusive extract for your reading group!

The Novel of the Century

The Novel of the Century brings to life the extraordinary story of how Victor Hugo managed to write his novel of the downtrodden despite a revolution, a coup d’état and political exile; how he pulled off the deal of the century to get it published, and set it on course to become the novel that epitomizes the grand sweep of history in the nineteenth century.

Placing a century of scholarship into narrative form and packed full of information about the background and design of Les Misérables, this biography of a masterpiece nonetheless insists that the moral and social message of Hugo’s ever-popular novel is just as important for our century as it was for its own.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel made up of staff from The Reading Agency and public libraries from across the UK. Our library reading panel really connected with the Novel of the Century – here are some of their comments:

“It is written by an academic but aimed at the non-specialist, although I’m sure anyone studying Les Misérables would also benefit from reading the Novel of the Century.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and came away from it knowing so much more about the subject.”

“Brilliant if you’re interested in Hugo, Les Misérables or the wider history of literature in the nineteenth century.”

About the author

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David Bellos is Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature at Princeton University, where he also teaches Comparative Literature. He is the author of many books on nineteenth-century fiction, alongside biographies of three icons of French culture in the twentieth century: Georges Perec, Jacques Tati and Romain Gary. He is also a well-known translator and the author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? The Amazing Adventure of Translation. David Bellos was recently awarded the rank of Officier in the Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres for his services to French culture.

Get involved

Tune in to Jonathon Ross’s Radio 2 Arts Show on Thursday 16 March to hear a live interview with David.

Do you want to read The Novel of the Century? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter and #TheNoveloftheCentury.

You can also see what other readers thought or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the Radio 2 Book Club Twitter feed or find out more on the Radio 2 Book Club website.

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