Big Books

My book Big Books in Times of Big Data was published in 2019 with Leiden University Press (and since 2020 also available through Chicago University Press). Here, you can read the cover text and reviews. If you are interested in reading the introduction and a sample chapter, I can hook you up.


Dikke boeken zijn opnieuw razend populair. Dirk Leyman. De Morgen, June 3, 2023.

“Big Books in Times of Big Data” [Review]. Ties van Gemert. Poetics Today (2021) 42 (2): 317–320. PDF.

“De terugkeer van het Heel Dikke Boek.” Veerle Vanden Bosch. De Standaard, Jan. 14, 2021. deel 1; deel 2.

“Overleven en overleveren. De monumentale roman versus digitale media.” Review, Fleur Praal. Vooys 38.4, 2020. Hier te lezen.

“Heel dikke boeken schrijven voor de eeuwigheid.” Review by Marc van Oostendorp., Sept 7, 2020.

“De dikke roman als stormram: over Big Books in Times of Big Data.” Review by Loren Snel. De Nederlandse Boekengids, June 30, 2020. PDF

“Hoe ‘Big Data’ en ‘#TMI’ de literaire wereld beïnvloeden.” Inct, Interview by Inge Beekmans. May 25, 2020.

“Moby Dick duikt de datasoep in.” Review by Ruben Vanden Berghe. De Reactor. May 11, 2020.

“Inge van de Ven on big books in times of ‘Big Data”. Interview, Diggit Magazine. May 4, 2020

On the cover

Big Books in Times of Big Data explores the aesthetics, medial affordances, and cultural economics of monumental literary works of the digital age and offers a comparative and cross-cultural perspective on a wide range of contemporary writers. Using an international archive of hefty tomes by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann, van de Ven investigates multiple strands of bigness that speak to the tenuous position of print literature in the present but also to the robust stature of literary discourse within our age of proliferating digital media.

Her study makes a case for the cultural agency of the big book—as a material object and a discursive phenomenon, entangled in complex ways with questions of canonicity, materiality, gender, and power. Van de Ven takes us into a contested terrain beyond the 1,000-page mark, where issues of scale and reader comprehension clash with authorial aggrandizement and the pleasures of binge reading and serial consumption.

What people say

Balancing careful close readings of such door-stop books as Danielewski’s The Familiar and Bolaño’s 2666 with wide-ranging discussions of big data epistemologies, media change, and evolving forms of literacy, Big Books in Times of Big Data is a perfect blend of comparative media studies and literary analysis.

– Alexander Starre, Freie Universität Berlin

The study is very well written and seamlessly integrates readings of complex large-scale literary works with new theory across literary studies, feminism, digital and media studies.

– Henriette Steiner, University of Copenhagen

Order a copy

US: Chicago University Press

NL: Leiden University Press