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Author Archive: "Tom Rachman"

What’s in a Book Title?

Naming a novel is painstaking, agonizing, delicate. But does the title matter?

It certainly feels consequential to the author. After several years' battle with your laptop keyboard, after 100,000 words placed so deliberately, you must distill everything into a phrase brief enough to run down the spine of a book. Should it be descriptive? Perhaps make it catchy. It has to be expressive, too. And honest. And serious. And amusing. And...

When writing my latest novel, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (I'll explain that title shortly), I filled a pad with notes on my expanding story: character histories, timelines, plotlines — plus a single sheet of possible titles. The page remained bare throughout my first draft. By the second, I had a dozen possibilities. By the third, the page was crammed with contenders, every line occupied, titles curling up the margins, pushing each other aside, thrusting themselves forth like forefingers poking my breastbone. Some were alright — yet not quite right. Others were perfect — but not for this book. Many were stinkers.

Then, a flutter went through me. I had it.

I wrote this one ...


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