Supplemental Readings: Contemporary Edition

This semester’s “Contemporary U.S. Novel” syllabus has six primary texts:

  • David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (1996, 1104 pp.)
  • Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible (1998, 576 pp.)
  • Colson Whitehead, John Henry Days (2001, 389 pp.)
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005, 368 pp.)
  • Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007, 352 pp.)
  • Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances (2008, 256 pp.)

Six texts aren’t a whole lot to cover a decade, especially when there’s no consensus concerning what’s important. If you’re one of my students and you’re looking for reading that will extend what we’re covering in class, here are some suggestions. All of these are texts that I considered putting on some version of the syllabus; not all of them are American and not all are from the last decade (but very few are more than twenty years old):

  • Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
  • J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
  • Edwidge Danticat, Farming of Bones
  • Don DeLillo, Falling Man
  • Louise Erdrich, Tracks
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated
  • William Gaddis, Carpenter’s Gothic
  • Dagoberto Gilb, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña
  • Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land
  • Nathaniel Mackey, Bedouin Hornbook
  • David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved and Song of Solomon and A Mercy
  • Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice
  • Marilynne Robinson, Home and Gilead
  • Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses
  • Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead
  • John Edgar Wideman, Fanon and The Cattle Killing

Even this list is much too short, but it’ll point you in some interesting directions.

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