What’s a Nonvella?

Answer: Nonvellas are works of nonfiction of roughly five- to twenty-thousand words: stories too long for most magazines and too short for traditional book publishers.

For the nonvella’s North American roots, there’s Thoreau in Civil Disobedience, Annie Dillard’s Total Eclipse, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Scott Russell Sanders’ classic essay Settling Down. (This last piece is available in our first Nonvella Miscellany, Far From Home, which you can buy through Amazon later in May 2014)

We coined the word “nonvella” as a more compact term— versus “long-form nonfiction” or “nonfiction e-singles”— for an emergent (or re-emergent) form of nonfiction that runs to the length of a fictional novella.

It’s a “just-right” length for concise reads that don’t skimp on the good stuff. Nonvellas —as William Giraldi wrote about their fictional counterparts— “combine the dynamic thighs of a sprinter with the long-distance lungs of a mountaineer.”

Nonvellas have been around a long time, but in the past thirty years or so they started to die out in the places you were most likely to read them: print magazines. Now digital publishing and on-demand printing are opening up the field again to timely, compelling memorable nonvellas by a new generation of writers.

We’re excited to be part of the movement to revive and celebrate long-form nonfiction.

Tyee & Anne

 

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