George Saunders may be one of America’s most lauded fiction writers, but when he turns his pen to the phenomenon of Donald Trump and his supporters, he reveals the limits of his political understanding — and produces some of his worst stories in the process.
Ryan Napier writes fiction and teaches writing in Massachusetts.
Published in 1985, Don DeLillo’s White Noise depicted an America blinded by consumerism. Ahead of Netflix’s adaptation of the novel, it’s worth revisiting DeLillo’s masterpiece, which remains one of our most perceptive visions of contemporary America.
The French author Michel Houellebecq is one of the most virulent, petulant critics of the 20th century’s legacy. His affinities with the Right are clear, but as a novelist, he nonetheless demands to be read.
David Foster Wallace was one of the great American writers of the neoliberal era. With a career spanning the years of Reagan’s reelection to the collapse of Lehman brothers, his novels, for all their complexity, reiterated the dominant ideology of the times.
As British political life exhibits ever more morbid symptoms, the reissue of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1971 novel Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is well-timed. Its sharply observed and amusing portrait of England’s post-imperial decline speaks to us across the decades.
As novelists begin to turn their eyes to the pandemic and the destruction it has wrought, Gary Shteyngart’s latest stands out. He depicts a vision of America that is deeply unsettling: a collapse that is merely more of the same.
Capitalism is all-encompassing — we can’t simply opt out and cultivate our personal purity. Like so many others, the protagonist of Tao Lin’s latest novel wants to leave society, but the point is to change it.