A panel of critics gives us an attempt at a comprehensive list of the best books of the 21st century (so far). ), ‘THE MARS ROOM’ By Rachel Kushner (Scribner). I tried to discern an overriding theme that connected these books, and I couldn’t — which just goes to show how various and expansive nonfiction can be, even if it sometimes seemed as if a single figure was bent on making it hard to pay attention to anything else. The sentences are spring-loaded and each section ends with a light cliffhanger. ... from the straightforward early love stories to the postmodern later works. One was Louise Erdrich’s searing, if too-short, 2017 novel Future Home of the Living God. But as is often the case with artistic movements, postmodern literature is commonly defined in relation to its precursor. The sentences are full of syntactic fireworks, breakneck swerves and very black humor. ), ‘FREDERICK DOUGLASS: PROPHET OF FREEDOM’ By David W. Blight (Simon & Schuster). Both in her short fiction and in her two novels, Moshfegh excels at showing readers the world through the eyes of contemptible characters; her narrators are callous, vain, cruel, cynical and self-loathing. If she’s on downers, this black comedy is on uppers. In this generous, searching memoir, Laymon reckons with more than one kind of heaviness — his physical weight along with the burden of the past. This posthumously published book of short stories is the long-awaited follow-up to Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” (1992), perhaps the most influential and beloved volume of American short stories of the past three decades. The third and final section is a slim coda to the first. Bored with the life of a gorgeous gallery girl in Manhattan and in denial about her grief for her late parents, she increasingly withdraws from the world over the course of the book, hoping to heal her mind with constant sleep. ... terrifying novel is … Don’t be fooled by the Disney-worthy cover: “The Little Mermaid” this isn’t. Technique isn’t enough to make a novel great, but Asymmetry’s technique is remarkable; its prose is crystalline, its structure architecturally precise, and its characters almost photorealistic. Brutal questions emerge: What if you decline motherhood in favor of your art and your art turns out to be mediocre? Nunez’s dry, allusive and charming new novel has the makings of a broad comedy. But Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection asked for a different rhythm ― to set it down, allow myself to digest each story, and then to return with eager curiosity for what he might have come up with next. In the first section of Halliday’s unassuming yet ambitious debut, this pair embarks on a mentorship-slash-romance; she narrates their imbalanced but seemingly happy relationship from a restrained third person, offering equally minimal access to both Alice’s and Ezra’s interiors. For three decades, Enric Marco, a Catalan mechanic, was a prominent public face of Spanish survivors of the Holocaust, until his story was revealed to be a hoax in 2005. It’s a remorseless little machine. Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. Her book is supremely gratifying, generous and lush but also tough and precise — in other words, as complicated and capacious as the lives it depicts. (Read the review. A labyrinth of ergodic structure, Danielewski’s novel has become a recent cult classic and by simply opening its pages its conspicuous that there’s no other book like it: encoded typography, color-word associations and the meticulous inclusion of mythological and metaphysical references turn this roaring institution of a novel into a rorschach test on a Minsa scale. Broadly, there are two diverging traditions evident in contemporary fiction. ), ‘INSEPARABLE: THE ORIGINAL SIAMESE TWINS AND THEIR RENDEZVOUS WITH AMERICAN HISTORY’ By Yunte Huang (Liveright). “I’m hurtling through time, strapped to an explosive device, my life,” the narrator of the title story tells her therapist. Halliday delves deeply into his perspective as he remembers his childhood and frets about the disappearance of his brother, a doctor in Iraq. Four women ― a high school teacher working on a biography of a female polar explorer, a pregnant teenager, an unhappy stay-at-home mother and a reclusive herbalist ― with intersecting paths navigate the sudden restrictions this has placed on them. The biographer, a single woman who wants to get pregnant, faces a ticking clock in her dream. (Read the review. The relentless churn of mini- and mega-scandals has proven a constant distraction from deep reading. “But the city made us new, and we made it ours.”. (Read the review. Today is National Voter Registration Day! The deep pleasure for the reader is to trace resonances, how themes chime and rhyme as well as Halliday’s underlying, beautifully articulated arguments about fiction’s possibilities and obligations. Postmodernism and the Postmodern novel; Postmodern Novels and Novelists|Literary Theory and Criticism; References This page was last edited on 14 December 2020, at 09:13 (UTC). You care. 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