On the Comic Novel

Tuesday October 18, 2011
07:00 pm

Tags: Event


Video Part 2






The National Book Critics Circle is in the fourth year of "NBCC Reads," a survey that polls the membership, along with former NBCC winners and finalists. This spring's question: What's your favorite comic novel? The question was inspired by this past year's awards in fiction--NBCC fiction award winner Jennifer Egan's at-times hilarious A Visit from the Goon Squad (which also won this year's Pulitzer and the Los Angeles Times book award in fiction) and Irish writer Paul Murray's darkly comic Skippy Dies, an NBCC fiction finalist.

A panel of those who contributed—Beth Gutcheon, Parul Sehgal, and Rob Spilman, moderated by Jane Ciabattari—came together for a discussion of comic novels from Muriel Spark to Evelyn Waugh to "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."


This event was presented in partnership with The National Book Critics Circle.

Beth Gutcheon's novels have been translated into fourteen languages, if you count the pirate Chinese edition of Still Missing, plus large print and audio format. Still Missing was made into a feature film called Without a Trace. Several of her novels have been national bestsellers, including the most recent, Leeway Cottage. All of the novels are available in new uniform paperback editions from HarperPerennial.

Parul Sehgal is a reviews editor at Publishers Weekly. She was the 2011 recipient of the NBCC's Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

Rob Spillman is co-founder and editor of Tin House, a thirteen year-old bi-coastal literary magazine.

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the short-story collection Stealing the Fire. Her book reviews, interviews, and cultural reporting have appeared in The Daily Beast,, Bookforum, The Paris Review, The Guardian, Salon, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. A former president of the National Book Critics Circle (2008-2011), she is NBCC Vice President/Online of the National Book Critics Circle and curator of the NBCC Reads series.