It stands to reason that we should choose novel for the N of our alphabet journey.
The OED definition of a novel is interesting:
a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action, with some degree of realism
But, in fact, if we look at the derivation of the word we discover it can be traced back to Middle English (and Latin, of course) and where it meant a novelty or a piece of news.
How many of our novels represent a novelty? Do you struggle to find something truly novel on bookshop bookshelves? And what is the news that our novels bring us? Is that the realism that the dictionary definition hints at?
There are conflicting theories about when the novel first arrived in the Western world. Some suggest that the 18th century was the birth of the novel with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as a bit of a prototype. But others argue that novels existed many centuries prior. If you are interested in reading around the subject, then take a look at this article in The Guardian by Steven Moore: The novel is centuries older than we’ve been told.
Whenever it arrived, we are just pleased that it is here now. Otherwise, what on earth would we do for our reading and writing pleasure?!