At last, an answer to the question of ‘what is a novel?’ as provided by author, Tom McCarthy, interviewed for The Birth of the British Novel (BBC4):
“A novel is something that contains its own negation. A novel isn’t a novel unless it has an anti-novel lodged in it. It’s like an oyster isn’t interesting unless it has a bit of grit in it; that not-oyster bit that produces the pearl. The central drama of its book is its own undermining.”
So, nothing to do with characterisation, plot, providing an insight into the human condition or even social commentary, then?