Books: The Year of the Novel

THERE are depressing moments when it seems that book publishers subsist largely on war, revolution, genocide, cowboys, Indians, literary homosexuals and the Kennedys. Nearly as often as God, the novel is pronounced dead—by prophets like John Barth, who splices novels from tapes, or apostates like Truman Capote, who labeled In Cold Blood a nonfiction novel. But the novel refuses to go away, and 1969 promises to be one of the richest years in recent memory.

The man whom most people consider the most accomplished novelist in English, Vladimir Nabokov, will publish his first...

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