Do Likable Characters Equal Likable Stories?


I wonder if that is the case for many of us. Perhaps, in the widespread longing for likable characters, there is this: a desire, through fiction, for contact with what we’ve armored ourselves against in the rest of our lives, a desire to be reminded that it’s possible to open our eyes, to see, to recognize our solitude — and at the same time to not be entirely alone.

Over at the New York Times, authors Mohsin Hamid and Zoë Heller discuss the likability of characters. For Hamid, it is possible to dislike a character but to love the voice, form, or plot of the story. He writes, “In fiction, as in my nonreading life, someone didn’t necessarily have to be likable to be lovable.“ While Heller believes that “likability in fictional characters is a complicated matter,” she also thinks that sometimes characters just aren’t likable and that can affect how a person reads the book.

If you don’t like a main character, are you less likely to enjoy the story?

Abigail Bereola is a writer and the Books Editor for The Rumpus. On Twitter, @sherarelytweets. More from this author →