The Global Novel
Writing the World in the 21st Century
What will 21st-century fiction look like?
Acclaimed literary critic Adam Kirsch examines some of our most beloved writers, including Haruki Murakami, Elena Ferrante, Roberto Bolaño, and Margaret Atwood, to better understand literature in the age of globalization.
The global novel, he finds, is not so much a genre as a way of imagining the world, one that allows the novel to address both urgent contemporary concerns—climate change, genetic engineering, and immigration—along with timeless themes, such as morality, society, and human relationships. Whether its stories take place on the scale of the species or the small town, the global novel situates its characters against the widest background of the imagination. The way we live now demands nothing less than the global perspective our best novelists have to offer.
Praise for The Global Novel:
One of BBC's 10 Books to Read in April 2017
"Who has the authority to speak for the world? Are Western ideals central to global literature, or do speculative novels that unspool Western ideas to tragic ends (like Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” and Houellebecq’s “The Possibility of an Island”) epitomize literary colonialism? Kirsch’s work is curious and illuminating." —Heather Scott Partington, The New York Times Book Review
"In an era of cheap air travel, digital communications, consumerism, worldwide urbanization, and the dominance of English ... readers, editors, and critics found it easy to welcome works by Haruki Murakami or Orhan Pamuk and the snapshots of foreign life they reveal.... Kirsch argues in his new book [that] these circumstances have given rise to an entirely new literary category." —Siddhartha Deb, The New Republic
"A critical appreciation of ‘world literature,’ highlighting works that combine specifics of locality with global reach....Kirsch is shrewd on what he terms ‘a new genre of English-language fiction…call it migrant literature,’ which is less about an immigrant’s arrival than a transitional passage, one that reinforces the notion of globalization in novels whose cultural roots are tougher to untangle. An insightful addition to the Columbia Global Reports roster." —Kirkus Reviews