‘Who are you? What the fuck are you doing here?’
Queer debates and contemporary connections
in Alan Hollinghurst
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This chapter situates Hollinghurst’s fiction within the contemporary contexts of late twentieth and early twenty-first century gay fiction and post-1990s queer theory. It argues that some of the qualities and concerns that lead Hollinghurst critics to associate his work with homophile writing of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century might equally be read as connecting him to the moment in which he is writing. The chapter offers comparative readings of Hollinghurst and contemporary peers such as Edmund White, Colm Tóibín, David Leavitt and Michael Cunningham, focusing on three common preoccupations of recent gay fiction: coming out, AIDS, and the family. The chapter concludes by asking how Hollinghurst should be plotted in relation to the queer rejections of the social and futurity offered by theorists like Leo Bersani and Lee Edelman, suggesting that, while revealing few obvious debts to recent queer theory, Hollinghurst’s fiction nevertheless manages to touch on highly topical questions of politics and sociality, the instability of sexual identities, and the lure of negative affect.

Alan Hollinghurst

Writing under the influence

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