Diana Athill

The Road To Empathy

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel


Faber & Faber 570pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Something happened to Jane Smiley with her eleventh novel, Good Faith: others liked it but she didn’t. An exceptionally versatile, inventive and successful novelist, suddenly she had become detached from – had seen the possibility of losing faith in – her vocation. So what did she do? She decided to read a hundred novels. The logic of this decision may seem puzzling, but it led to her writing this book, so we must be grateful for it.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,