EIBF 2011: five lengthy literary works

This article is from 2011

lengthy literary works

featuring Adam Levin, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King and Tolstoy

With Adam Levin hauling his doorstopping debut novel to the Book Festival, Brian Donaldson gets double vision from five fictions over the 1000-page mark

The Instructions

The story of a megalomaniac 10-year-old boy who may or may not be the messiah takes place over the course of just four frenetic days, but Levin’s massive book takes in Israel’s battle for existence and an entire religion’s search for peace.

Against the Day

When Thomas Pynchon wrote Crying of Lot 49, its near 300 pages felt like five times more. In his 2007 work, he goes the whole hog in a multi-narrative split between its own group of characters, situations, time zone geography and philosophical problems and situations.

Infinite Jest

The late David Foster Wallace certainly can’t be accused of leaving behind a slim literary legacy. This one focussed on a dangerously entertaining movie – Infinite Jest – and how it affects everyone from a Boston halfway house for recovering drug addicts and a nearby tennis academy.

War and Peace

Tolstoy himself said of his epic work that it was ‘not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle’. Whatever his sprawling tale actually is, it hasn’t put off adaptive types who have turned it into movies, TV dramas, radio plays, stageworks and an opera.


This may well be the easiest read of the lot given that it’s from the commercial mindbrain of the page-turning horror master Stephen King, featuring a group of adults who try and defeat the protean being/scary clown that is threatening their childhood hometown.

Adam Levin, 27 Aug, 8.30pm, £7 (£5).

Adam Levin

The Instructions was a massive hit in the US last year and is sure to strike a chord here. It’s the story of 10 year old Gurion Maccabee, a lover, fighter, scholar, and truly spectacular talker who can’t stop being expelled from Jewish day schools as his search for righteousness sparks an unstoppable rebellion.

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