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The American novel now - Patrick O'Donnell

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The American novel now - reading contemporary American fiction since 1980
Patrick O'Donnell
Paperback / softback
Wiley Blackwell
UK Publication Date

The American Novel Now navigates the vast terrain of the American novel since 1980, exploring issues of identity, history, family, nation, and aesthetics, as well as cultural movements and narrative strategies from over seventy different authors and novels.

  • Discusses an exceptionally wide-range of authors and novels, from established figures to significant emerging writers
  • Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Louise Erdrich, Don DeLillo, Richard Powers, Kathy Acker and many more
  • Explores the range of themes and styles offered in the wealth of contemporary American fiction since 1980, in both mainstream and experimental writings
  • Reflects the liveliness and diversity of American fiction in the last thirty years
  • Written in a style that makes it ideal for students and scholars, while also accessible for general readers

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Patrick O'Donnell is Professor of English and American Literature at Michigan State University, where he served as department chair from 1997 to 2007. He has written and edited a number of books and collections on contemporary American fiction and film, including Latent Destinies: Cultural Paranoia in Contemporary U.S. Fiction (2000), Echo Chambers: Figuring Voice in Modern Narrative (1992), Passionate Doubts: Designs of Interpretation in Contemporary American Fiction (1986), and New Essays on The Crying of Lot 49 (edited, 1991). He is an associate editor of The Columbia History of the American Novel (1991), a former editor of Modern Fiction Studies, and a co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century American Fiction (forthcoming from Wiley-Blackwell).

"More impressively comprehensive than encyclopedic, Patrick O'Donnell does not try to cover every literary novel published in the last thirty years, but instead offers a broad critical overview of contemporary US fiction in terms that make The American Novel Now more than just a survey". (The Journal of American Studies, 2011)

"In this extremely accessible discussion, O'Donnell (Michigan State Univ.) reveals his as an authoritative voice on novels from the 1980s to present. His selections are, by his own admission, eclectic: he writes in the introduction that he "chose to discuss, where appropriate, both widely read novels published by the mainstream commercial presses and less visible, often experimental work published by independent presses." He looks at work from more than 70 authors, including central figures of the American literary canon--Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Louise Erdrich, and Don DeLillo, to name only a few. O'Donnell divides the book (and his approach) into five distinctive parts, discussing, respectively, work leading to the 1980s; realism and experimentation; identity, as it pertains to character--gender, ethnicity, and so on; historicity and "end times"; and social emergence within the novel. All this leads to an intriguing "excursus that speculates on the future of the novel." This is a comprehensive discussion of the novel and present circumstances influencing it--an interesting study on many levels." (CHOICE, December 2010)

"The American Novel Now provides an accessible introduction to the many strands of post-1980 American fiction." (TLS, June 2010)

Keyword Index
American fiction - 20th century - History and criticism.|Literature and society - United States - History - 20th century.|Literature and history - United States - History - 20th century.
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