November 16th, 2011 / 4:55 pm

What are your favorite long (500pp+) novels?


  1. Action Jackson

      Living in Little Rock With Miss Little Rock by Jack Butler.  Came out in early 90s, nominated for Pulitzer Prize.  Under-appreciated, and a must read for postmodern and meta fans.  The narrator is the Holy Ghost.

  2. stephen

      Ulysses, Hopscotch, 2666 ..

  3. Neil Griffin

      A lot of the usual Barthian suspects, but one that came out recently I enjoyed was Zone by Mathias Ethiard. 

  4. Don

      Infinite Jest

  5. david

      Ulysses, Don Quixote, Magic Mountain, 2666,  Anna Karenina, Augie March, Cloud Atlas

  6. davidpeak

      i can’t choose between “the tunnel” and “it”

  7. Trey

      Don Quixote is good. what do you count Executioner’s Song as? East of Eden also pretty good.

  8. Scott Riley Irvine

      Mason & Dixon

  9. Doug

      Ulysses, Moby-Dick, The Magus, Man Without Qualities, Middlemarch, Gravity’s Rainbow, The Brothers Karamazov, Mason & Dixon

  10. Darby Larson

      tristram shandy

  11. MacEvoy DeMarest

      Grapes of Wrath, Crime & Punishment, & 2666

  12. Jpgravel

      The Recognitions. 

  13. Mike Young

      Sometimes a Great Notion

  14. Jackson Mace

      2666 and Moby Dick.

  15. aaron

      The Instructions. 

  16. Roxane

      Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra and A Fine Balance by Rohinton MIstry. 

  17. Maxwell McCabe-Lokos

      The Kindly Ones, 2666, The Brothers Karamozov

  18. Scott mcclanahan

      Yes, to Sometimes a Great Notion.   Kesey + crazy.

  19. Jpgravel

      À la recherche du temps perdu, duh. 

  20. aaron

      I also really liked Kavalier and Clay and Fortress of Solitude and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, none of which seem very “cool” to say in comparison to everything else mentioned, nor did they seem like “long” novels but I think they were all >500pp. Still, Levin damaged all of ’em.

  21. Brittany G. Bassett

      2666 of course.

  22. Dole

      Moby Dick, Hopscotch, Savage Detectives, maybe Crime & Punishment

      I don’t read these often, might try Dhalgren this winter

  23. Emma

      We, the Drowned
      The Pale King
      The Idiot

  24. Andy Linkner

      “Frog” by Stephen Dixon and “Three Blondes & Death” by Yuriy Tarnawsky

  25. Clarence L'inspecteur

      Underworld. 2666. The Recognitions. Them. The Making of Americans. Gravity’s Rainbow.

      And I’m currently reading Youngblood Hawke, Herman Wouk’s big ultra-realist novelist-novel of the sixties and it’s damn good.  

  26. Joseph Riippi

      2666, Bolano
      Savage Detectives, BolanoHopscotch, CortazarBook of Memories, NadasMoby Dick, Melville

  27. Tummler


      The Blah Story

      The Idiot

      Ohio, Stand Up

  28. Drew Lerman

      Tree of Smoke
      Gravity’s Rainbow
      The Brothers Karamazov
      Light in August
      The Adventures of Augie March
      The Corrections

  29. Matt Rowan

      Everybody has said nearly all of mine, so I’ll second Sometimes A Great Notion, The Instructions, Infinite Jest, JR, Gravity’s Rainbow, V., The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, Moby-Dick, and has anyone said Cloud Atlas? Cuz, Cloud Atlas. And Catch-22. And Crime and Punishment. 

  30. deadgod

      War and Peace never flags, even in its lulls of ‘action’, which I wouldn’t say of some of the greats (of the ones I’ve read) listed here.

  31. Ryley Zucca

      The Engineer of Human Souls

  32. Ryley

      The Engineer of Human Souls

  33. grady

      the recognitions, william gaddis…also the children’s hospital by chris adrian

  34. Todd Grimson

       a dance to the music of time, the sleepwalkers, gravity’s rainbow, war and peace, insatiability, the sea of fertility, ulysses, proust’s time regained or the past recaptured, the man without qualities, lookout cartridge, the devils (aka demons, aka the possessed), histoire (claude simon), the death of virgil, the radetzsky march, the doll (boleslaw prus), the years, life: a user’s manual, peregrine pickle, berlin alexanderplatz, the magic mountain, the executioner’s song (wondering meanwhile if lawrence schiller deserves co-authorship), the idiot

  35. Emma

      Man, I remember wanting The Children’s Hospital to be so much better than it was

  36. Slewin91

      finnegan’s wake and gravity’s rainbow

      …just kidding obv l o l

  37. William Owen

      Wolf Hall, The Name of the Wind, Ulysses, Anna Karenina, The Recognitions, Almanac of the Dead, Moby Dick, Kavalier and Clay

  38. William VanDenBerg

      I’ll second Life: A User’s Manual.

  39. Michael

      Vanity Fair
      David Copperfield 
      Portrait of a Lady (people who talk shit about Henry James haven’t read his best novel)
      The Collected Posts of deadgod, Vol. 1A

  40. Roxane

      Kavalier and Clay is one of my favorite books.

  41. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      USA Trilogy, Life and Fate.

      Guys, not to put on the nerd glasses, but I think Crime and Punishment is, like, 400 pages.

  42. ben brooks

      the instructions, 1Q84, bros k

  43. Laura Carter

      I actually really love Trollope, a comedy of manners. And Israel Zangwill, but these are Victorians….

      Dostoevsky is always good, too.

  44. Laura Carter

      The Way We Live Now by Trollope is quite funny.

  45. Steve Bourdeau

      Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again, both by Thomas Wolfe

  46. Drodman

      that list is pretty cool but are you sure that you didn’t just list every 500pp+ novel that you’ve read?

  47. jeff noh

      like 600 pp. into a huge novel, when you start looking forward to returning (vs. worrying about leaving for too long), that’s a good feeling

      people who finish big books are less likely to be “competitive readers”

      first experience with a big book was with the old testament, NIV translation, one of the not-literary ones. moments of engrossment interspersed in long stretches of boredom resembled something like religious experience. takes me back whenever there is a list section in a big book. 

      it took me a couple tries to get through savage detectives. didn’t realize how much I liked it until most of the way through, whereas 2666 was much more even.. still enjoyed 2666 more tho.

  48. dupre

      is “the man without qualities” worth the hard slog? coming from someone who’s currently in a golden age of reading lengthy fiction

  49. werdfert

      why is it whenever i see a huge-ass book i’m all oooh like in a candy store. i keep looking at 1Q84 even though i haven’t really liked any of murakami’s novels. 

  50. Mike Young

      totally worth it

  51. Thibault Raoult

      1Q84, eh.

  52. Jason Jimenez

      Les Miserables

  53. Jason Jimenez

      and DQ

  54. Jeff

       If the fella 40 posts above me actually finished The Making of Americans I’d be extremely impressed. I’d say The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien and Moby Dick. And def. not Ulysses but Beckett’s trilogy—Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnameable. Does that count? There are a lot of books existing today.
      If the fella 40 posts above me actually finished The Making of Americans I’d be extremely impressed. I’d say The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien and Moby Dick. And def. not Ulysses but Beckett’s trilogy—Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnameable. Does that count? There are a lot of books existing today.

  55. Jeff

       If the fella 40 posts above me actually finished The Making of Americans I’d be extremely impressed. I’d say The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien and Moby Dick. And def. not Ulysses but Beckett’s trilogy—Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnameable. Does that count? There are a lot of books existing today.
      If the fella 40 posts above me actually finished The Making of Americans I’d be extremely impressed. I’d say The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien and Moby Dick. And def. not Ulysses but Beckett’s trilogy—Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnameable. Does that count? There are a lot of books existing today.

  56. Miki

      Stanley Elkin’s GEORGE MILLS

  57. Bermudaern

      The Stand

  58. Bermudaern

      The Stand

  59. Bermudaern

      The Stand

  60. Bermudaern

      The Stand

  61. Bermudaern

      Stephen King’s The Stand

  62. Bermudaern

      Stephen’s King The Stand

  63. Bermudaern

      Stephen King’s The Stand

  64. Bermudaern

      Stephen Kinging The Stand

  65. Bermudaern

      Stephen King, The Stand By Me

  66. Bermudaern


  67. Bermudaern

      “Stand By Me” The Stephen King

  68. shaun gannon

      the complete david bowie

  69. Todd Grimson

      yeah, i am sure.

      i thought about adding an anti-list of long books i don’t think are especially good, but many of these would have been in contradiction to what others above said they liked. so the omissions are meaningful (to me).

      but sure, some choices are “softer” than others. for instance, the doll. and i thought about gottfried keller’s green henry but decided no, because it sort of fizzles after a while. i was absorbed by the magus when i was 18 but tried to reread it a few years ago and just couldn’t.

      someone mentioned the wind-up bird chronicle but i’d like to reread it before i’m sure. it probably holds up. (more than wild sheep chase or hardboiled wonderland and etc.)

      maybe putting peregrine pickle on such a list is an affectation because to read it again i might have to really be in the mood. but i think it might put me in the mood. it’s not like the sot weed factor or mason and dixon. in other words, it’s not a literistic exercise.

      lots of material which dazzled my 20 year old brain struck me as jejeune when revisited later on. on the other hand, proust becomes better and better, both more lucid and clear yet essentially incommunicable as well. always, some mysteries remain. (uh, thank god.)

      anthony powell’s dance only gets better. so too ulysses, though the walpugisnacht sequence now seems a longueur.

      oh fuck i left out louis-ferdinand celine! both journey to the end of the night and mort au credit qualify and hold up. i just read a biography of him not that long ago. well, drugs.

  70. Gregory Pokarney

      Women and Men, McElroy
      Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon
      Underworld, DeLilo
      Finnegans Wake, Joyce (for real)
      2666, Bolano
      The Making of Americans, Stein (for real)
      War and Peace, Tolstoy

  71. Albert Min

      Miss MacIntosh, My Darling by Marguerite Young

  72. adrian

      The Royal Family by William T. Vollmann. Powerful and hallucinatory.

  73. Tim Horvath

      Have Sacred Games sitting on my shelf. Now it is glaring at me. Saying, like, “see?”

  74. Tim Horvath

      Haven’t finished WITZ yet but it’s a contender.

  75. deadgod

      Yes – Jeff (below) mentions Beckett’s ‘trilogy’, which, in my Grove Press edition is 407 pages.  I checked V. and Cloud Atlas, but they’re both, indeed, >500 pages.  It’s an odd accordioning of writing length in one’s psychology, how a fluent read can feel ‘shorter’ than a somehow obstructive text–and, I guess, how a reputation can govern perception.

  76. Anonymous

      multiple first persons running side by side. haven’t read it but i’m happy to know of it

  77. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      That’s why I was bringing it up, too. I never thought C+P felt like a long novel. I mean, it primarily follows one character over the course of a couple of days? Aside from the epilogue it’s action-packed!

  78. Jackson Nieuwland

      Lol 300+ is long for me

  79. Mark Doten

      ones i didn’t see above: garganuta and pantagreul, the unconsoled, you bright and risen angels. 

  80. Spenser Davis

      Need to actually read more longer novels, but since it’s one of my favorite novels in general, I’ll say the Cloud Atlas.

  81. UncleIstvan

      Haha, this is great!  So many books are going on my “books to read” list!  Now we need to to a list of books under 200 hundred pages so I can actually cross things off my list…

      Another tally for Moby Dick, for whoever is counting.

  82. Anonymous

      are there any women who have written “notable 500+ page books” other than place, stein, & young?

  83. kevocuinn

      At 446 pages, Midnight’s Children

  84. Lucy Maddox

      Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook.

  85. Lucy Maddox

      The Perennial edition falls about 50 pages short, but I’m going to say One Hundred Years of Solitude anyway. And The Corrections. I’m unspeakably dull.

  86. David Hayden

      Middlemarch, Tale of Genji, Don Quixote, Moby Dick, Vanity Fair, Wilhelm Meister, Bleak House, Tristram Shandy, Golden Bowl, The Idiot, The Maias (Eca de Queiros), Such Is Life (Furphy), Fortunes of Richard Mahony (HH Richardson), Lost Illusions, Recognitions, Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, Man Without Qualities, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, Man Who Loved Children, Journey to the End of the Night, USA (Dos P), Devil to Pay in the Backlands, Book of Disquiet, Savage Detectives, 2666, Floating Cities (Tsirkas), Berlin Alexanderplatz, Buddenbrooks, Death of Virgil, Makioka Sisters, Insatiability (Witkiewicz), Petals of Blood (N’gugi). Voss, Under the Volcano and Beckett’s Trilogy a little shorter than 500pp but much deeper than they are long.

  87. Derek

      the wind-up bird chronicle

  88. Jim Rioux

      The Instructions is a phenomenal book.

  89. Leapsloth14

      War and Peace.

  90. jwithy

      It’s cheating, but I’ll go with Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy omnibus.

      And they aren’t fashionable, but Game of Thrones and HP & The Goblet of Fire were both awesome.

  91. Ty


  92. Doug


  93. Nathan Huffstutter

      Annie Dillard’s The Living only clocks in around 450, but it’s pretty friggin’ good.

      To the original question, Ellison’s Invisible Man is essential.

  94. deadgod

      Well, I just checked the first paperback at Amazon – Bantam Mass Paperback – , and it clocks in at 576 pages.  (Don’t know how many of them are for intro, notes, other apparatuses.)  I read the thing in a paperback-sized hard cover (Modern Library?), with very thin paper and, as I remember, tiny type, and it seemed lugubriously garish and, to me, long.  ‘Lugubriously garish’, I’d still attach to Dostoevsky–not as a bad thing, and perhaps to his pleasure, ha ha.  The action is more intense than the thick-fingered patty-cake of, say, Ellis – but “action-packed“??  Ha ha ha.  . . . maybe I should read it again.

  95. mike j

      Lonesome Dove

  96. bobby

      I love many of the books already mentioned, but REALLY loved The Kindly Ones. What a fucking sick amazing book. 

  97. killebrew

      Both of Norman Rush’s novels
      Life: A User’s Manual
      Harlot’s Ghost
      Humboldt’s Gift
      Under the Volcano
      Mason & Dixon

  98. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      the love story was compelling, but found the history sometimes tiresome. but overall, was worth more than the two months it took me to finish it. 

  99. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      east of eden was fat sugar salt.

  100. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      haven’t finished dhalgren, it wants me to

  101. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      nicholas nickleby

  102. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      Don Quixote, East of Eden, Moby-Dick, Proust vol 2: Within a Budding Grove

  103. judson

      darkmans, gravity’s rainbow, the recognitions, the once and future king, and (although it’s a few pages shy of the 500 mark) – watership down.

  104. Jesus

      all work and no play makes bermudaern a doll boy

  105. JW

      War and Peace, 2666.  If you count a novel series, Mishima’s Sea of Fertility Tetralogy and Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet.

  106. lorian long

      the royal family is a beast

  107. Bradley Sands

      Infinite Jest, 100 Years in Solitude, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I think those are the only books over 500 pages that I like.

  108. Darby Larson

      havent seen europe central mentioned. i have it on my shelf waiting. did no one like that one?

  109. lorian long

      the 300 pages i got thru were brilliant, thick. i had to come up for air or something.

  110. Michael

      Native Son

  111. Cvan

      My favorite 500 page novel was deadgod’s reply to some schmuck last week on htmlgiant.

  112. adrian

      I agree. I wish Vollmann would start writing novels again; I think he’s stuck in a nonfiction rut. I tried reading Europe Central, but I just couldn’t finish it. Perhaps EC killed it for him… writing fiction, that is. 100 pgs. in and I couldn’t find any joy in that book. Maybe Bill will come back to writing novels soon… perhaps start off with a small one, something along the (length)lines of Whores for Gloria? (which was really just a prelude to The Royal Family, anyway). I love Bill Vollmann! I love that he loves hookers, trannies, druggies and the down and out marginalia of society!  

  113. Jacob

      Ohio, Stand Up (What’s this???)

  114. Jacob

      Women and Men, Lookout Cartridge, Joseph McElroy
      You Bright and Risen Angels, Europe Central, William T. Vollmann
      JR, Gaddis
      Infinite Jest

  115. Kevin Spaide


  116. tara

      what about GRAVITY’S RAINBOW, you guys?

  117. Jimmy Chen

      lol tara, that’s sweet; i need u to go to pitchfork and type “what about RADIOHEAD, you guys?” this would make me less unhappy 2nite

  118. Luke Tennis

      Amazing writer, very tough book. Have you tried Magic Kingdom?

  119. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I just saw another copy at 750! Maybe I was wrong after all.

      I think you should read it again. Maybe action-packed is the wrong word, but it’s a book all about constant movement. Think about it — Raskolnikov is constantly going somewhere, meeting someone, doing something… there isn’t a whole lotta stasis in there. And the characters are so good! Svidragilov, Razumhin, Porfiry, basically every character brings a wonderful dynamic!

      A drunk and sad Jets fan

  120. Daniel Roberts

      Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian

  121. deadgod

      Okay, I just checked the Modern Library hardcover, and it’s 531 pages–close!

      I had a feeling that Ryan would out-misundercoach Fox, but I was too weak to go with my gut (in my pools).  Already a game behind – rats.

      I’m pretty sure my uppance will come in the divisional round of the playoffs (Niners fan).

  122. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Yeah. The NFC is kind of stacked.

  123. Iacus123

      dhalgren is super great. the last 200 or whatever pages are amazing

  124. David Fishkind

      moby dick, underworld

  125. Oneiric Bazaar

      Two that have gone unmentioned:

      The Death of Virgil
      The Public Burning

  126. Oneiric Bazaar

      It is not a slog at all. Nearly every page of the first volume holds a quote that belongs in a book of epigrams.

  127. Tummler
  128. deadgod

      David Hayden (and others?) mentions Death of Virgil.  The Vintage edition has 496 pages–I’d have guessed a higher number.

  129. Emmons

      Fortunata and Jacinda, Under the Volcano, Underworld and Libra, Tree of Smoke, The Recognitions, The Public Burning, Dhalgren, The Fortress of Solitude, Another Country, and Trance by Christopher Sorrentino

  130. marshall

      oh my god

  131. Oneiric Bazaar

      He sure did. Missed it as I skimmed his rich list. Thx for the two corrections.

  132. Christoffer Molnar

      I can’t believe I had to scroll this far down before seeing War and Peace mentioned. Well, I can, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

  133. Christoffer Molnar

      To add one that I don’t think I saw, News From the Empire (Fernando del Paso) has both the length and breadth of the typical “big” novel, which I think goes way beyond just page count.

  134. Oneiric Bazaar

      Clockers is really good. No one would set it on top of this summit, but I think it will be looked back upon as a vital work from this period.

  135. Jamie

      The Instructions. Yes. So good. 

  136. william e emba

      Agreement with much of the above.

      I didn’t see the following listed:Clive Barker WeaveworldMichael Brodsky XmanJohn Brunner Stand on ZanzibarFanny Burney CeciliaBruce Duffy The World as I Found ItMacKinlay KantorAndersonvilleHarry Mulisch The Discovery of HeavenCharles Palliser The QuincunxRichard Powers The Time of Our SingingAnn Radcliffe The Mysteries of UdolphoSir Walter Scott WaverleyAlexandr Solzhenitsyn The First CircleGilbert Sorrentino Mulligan StewPatrick White The VivisectorDavid Wroblewski The Story of Edgar SawtelleNote that a new uncensored(!) edition of The First Circle was recently published, about 10% longer.  Now everybody…

  137. MPDuke1

      M. Proust, Romance of The Three Kingdoms, Tale of Genji, and for a really really long read- The Mahabharata

  138. Dana Midura

      East of Eden