The Second Time Around


2014 wasn’t just the year of the debut—plenty of authors released their second novel, often considered the most challenging for writers to write. Slate sat down with some second-time novelists to discuss their sophomore efforts, like Family Life author Akhil Sharma who spent a dozen years on the novel:

If you write for two or three years and don’t make much progress, you begin to think that there is something wrong with you. After four, five, six years, you are convinced that you are a no-talent idiot. My wife was supporting us as I wrote, and I used to feel ashamed all the time.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →