Twenty-first-century fiction

Contemporary British voices

Author: Daniel Lea

This study explores the landscape of contemporary British fiction through detailed analysis of five authors that have emerged to critical prominence in the 21st century. The authors addressed - Ali Smith, Andrew O’Hagan, Tom McCarthy, Sarah Hall, and Jon McGregor – have all established themselves through popular and critical success, but have received significantly less attention than some of their peers. This book does not seek to thrust these authors into a putative canon of 21st century literary writing, but rather to explore through close attention to the resonances, continuities, elisions, and frictions across their works the temper of the contemporary moment as it is expressed by a group of writers. Each is devoted a chapter that analyses their creative output to-date within the frame of their stylistic and thematic development, as well as drawing comparisons across their writing and that of their peers. The intention is never to provide the kind of synoptical overview that a period-study might suggest, instead Twenty-First Century Fiction: Contemporary British Voices seeks to juxtapose critical readings within a constellation of contemporary literary concerns to examine what cultural energies and flows are emerging in the new century. In doing so, it identifies three recurrent areas of concern that might be said to infiltrate our times; these are Materiality, Connectivity, and Authenticity. In many forms and through many articulations, these issues emerge as insistent – if inchoate – questions about how current literary practice is responding to the challenge of the post-millennial world.

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