Ideal Contemporary Novels & Stories

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Posted in categories: Contemporary literature

Contemporary Literature

It includes literature written after World War Two through the present and includes several unique identifying characteristics. Although difficult to comprehensively define, some of the most obvious characteristics include multiple narrators, literature that comments upon itself, a mixture or pastiche of subjects and genres, and experimentation with form and structure. Bringing together postwar German, Israeli, and Anglo-American literature, Eshel traces a shared trajectory of futurity in world literature. He begins by examining German works of fiction and the debates they spurred over the future character of Germany’s public sphere.

Analyzing the represented cultural traditions can lead to a greater understanding of that culture. Studying the history of that culture (including an historical time line of the civil rights movement, voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and immigration in 20th America) will create a more enlightening appreciation of cultural attitudes, motivations, and actions. During the semester, we will study and analyze selected works of fiction, poetry, and drama dating from the end of World War II to the present.

In this horrifyingly prescient, distinctly Orwellian novel, a Syrian writer is silenced for refusing to contribute to a system of propaganda in service to the unnamed dictator of an unnamed country—but he can’t be silenced entirely. In some ways I wonder whether the rise of other forms of media were the most important aspect of this change though. Even what we would call literature had to move with the times or it wouldn’t survive. Single articles may be purchased online at or through the JSTOR archive.

Settings usually keep to the current or modern era, so futuristic and science fiction novels are rarely included in this category. Well-defined, realistic, and highly developed characters are important in classifying a written work as contemporary, and most writing in this category features stories that are more character driven than plot driven. Nathan Scott contributes a fine essay on black literature, discussing a number of new, little-known black writers who deserve to be known better. Scott deeply regrets black writing should be treated as a literature unto itself, but he acknowledges the separatist Black Arts Movement of the sixties determined it must be by dictating what black literature should be about and banning white criticism. Thus black literature has become forbidden territory to whites and many a promising black writer condemned to obscurity. Scott is saddened by this evidence of “a profound collapse of faith in the indivisibility of the human family and in the unity of culture.” It is, as he says, a distinguishing feature of the period.

The narrowing scope of naturalism presages the balkanization of contemporary literature, its subdivision into categories such as Jewish, black, women’s, or gay fiction— most of which provide chapter topics for the Harvard Guide. Mark Flanagan is a book reviewer and writer with over 15 years of experience. He’s also the founder of Run Spot Run, a website dedicated to reviewing contemporary literature. Twentieth-Century and Contemporary American Literature in Context provides wide coverage of authors, works, genres, and movements that are emblematic of the diversity of modern America.

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