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Free Short Online Course: How to read a novel

Have you ever wondered how a novel is written? What are the building blocks of a good piece of fiction? Or are you just missing the Edinburgh International Book Festival? If so, the University’s highly popular free short course, How to read a novel, might be for you.

How to read a novel explores four of the main building blocks of modern fiction: plot, characterisation, dialogue, and setting using examples from a range of texts including the four novels shortlisted for the 2020 James Tait Black fiction prize.

This free four week course, starting on 3 August 2020, provides an insight into how to gain the most out of reading a novel and is designed for anyone who enjoys reading. You can enrol and join the discussion throughout August - no prerequisite knowledge is required. 

The course complements the Edinburgh International Book Festival and James Tait Black Fiction Awards which this year will both take place online.

How to read a novel

The four novels shortlisted for the 2020 fiction James Tait Black Prize, and introduced in the course are:

  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (Galley Beggar Press)
  • Travellers by Helon Habila (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin)
  • Sudden Traveller by Sarah Hall (Faber)
  • Girl by Edna O’Brien (Faber).