The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz

Published by: Faber & Faber
Pages: 336
Date released: 05/08/2021
Date read: 17/06/2021

When a young writer dies before completing his first novel, his teacher, Jake, (himself a failed novelist) helps himself to its plot. The resulting book is a phenomenal success. But what if somebody out there knows?

Somebody does. And if Jake can’t figure out who he’s dealing with, he risks something far worse than the loss of his career.

Thanks to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for the advanced copy review.


There is something very inception-y about writing a book about writing a book about a real life event. It must be very difficult to make prose in a fictional world sound completely different from that of the actual author. Having said that, for some reason, I was convinced that the author, Jean Hanff Korelitz, was a male author. Don’t get me wrong, as an aspiring author myself, I know that men can write good women, and women can write good men, so it shouldn’t be surprising. But Jean wrote in such a way that she had me believing that the author of this book, was actually the author in the story, a man called Jake. She just managed to capture this desperate soul so well that the real author and the fictional author, and the fictional author within that, just gelled as one complete person.

I did find the first quarter a bit slow to get into, very much detail orientated rather than a whole lot of plot, but once we got into the juicy bits, did it get going. At the beginning I did feel this book was trying to be the next big blockbuster sell out that everyone will want to get their hands on. It just felt a little bit self-conscious, if a book can be self-conscious. I think it can.

Chapter twelve starts with the line “Evan Parker was dead: to begin with”, and that little nod to my favourite book, A Christmas Carol, was a lovely little addition, almost like it was put there just for me. And it brings us back to the main thought of this book: what does it mean to be inspired by a book, and when does inspiration become plagiarism?

The plot of this book plus the fictional book within it seamlessly intertwine so much they complement each other without being repetitive.

There is a big plot twist sort of 2/3 of the way through in both this book and the fictional book inside, that I won’t spill here, but once it comes it feels really obvious, but I never saw it coming as I was reading it. But hold up, a few pages before the end, the mother of all twists appears that I definitely did not see coming and still found myself disbelieving as I was reading it. It was truly phenomenal. 

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