The Global Novel

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.

The Global Novel
  • ISBN: 9780997722901
  • Price: $12.99
  • E-book ISBN: 9780997722918
  • On Sale: April 25, 2017
  • Pages: 120


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

“Timely, direct, and full of good sense, The Global Novel brilliantly discards critical pieties to address numerous arguments for what the twenty-first-century novel is becoming.” World Literature Today

“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


In defence of the global novel — Financial Times

Murakami vs. Bolaño: Competing Visions of the Global Novel — LitHub

About the author

Adam Kirsch
© Miranda Sita

Adam Kirsch is an award-winning poet and critic. He is the author of three books of poetry and several books of criticism and biography, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Foreign Policy. He directs the MA program in Jewish Studies at Columbia University.

4/20/2017, John Washington

What Do Global Novelists Have In Common?

What Do Global Novelists Have In Common?

Garth Greenwell, the author of What Belongs to You, a novel about gay life and the experience of cruising in Bulgaria, said in an interview with The Guardian: “You build bridges across difference to arrive at the universal through describing the particular.” The bridge between the particular and the universal, in literature, is built with… more