Rolling Contemporary Literary Fiction

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Inspired by some of the talk on new novels and why they suck and whatever, here's a rolling thread for discussion of new literary fiction!

ksh, Friday, 9 July 2010 17:27 (eleven years ago) link

I just got to the top of the library holds list for 'Tinkers' (just won the Pulitzer) - I pick it up today! Sounds good - will report back after I finish bloody Proust.

franny glass, Friday, 9 July 2010 17:52 (eleven years ago) link

this list of upcoming titles might interest some

oɔsıqɐu (nabisco), Friday, 9 July 2010 19:56 (eleven years ago) link

i really want to read that shteyngart novel but it apparently doesn't come out here until september

thomp, Friday, 9 July 2010 20:21 (eleven years ago) link

i keep thinking 'oh, that's coming out soon', and then i check, and remember it's not, here

thomp, Friday, 9 July 2010 20:21 (eleven years ago) link

You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin


Lamp, Friday, 9 July 2010 22:28 (eleven years ago) link

i really want to read that shteyngart novel but it apparently doesn't come out here until september

boy this one has all kinds of buzz, it feels like

I'm cleansing my palate after Your Face Tomorrow with always takes me forever to finish nonfiction books tho

les yeux sans aerosmith (underrated aerosmith albums I have loved), Friday, 9 July 2010 22:34 (eleven years ago) link

oh god, i still have that lying around for after i finish the thirty-eight other things i am reading

thomp, Friday, 9 July 2010 22:37 (eleven years ago) link

its really good dude!!!!! altho i tried reading the "prequel" but it was kinda boring so i read some short stories instead

Lamp, Friday, 9 July 2010 22:38 (eleven years ago) link

today i bought the other two kj parker books and stephen king's new pb. i don't even belong on this thread right now.

thomp, Friday, 9 July 2010 22:42 (eleven years ago) link

haha u ended up buying the other parkers? im still keeping an eye out for them

on topic: i really liked the imperfections by tom rachman.

Lamp, Friday, 9 July 2010 22:55 (eleven years ago) link

d'you want my copies when i'm done? they're only going to go in a box somewhere, otherwise

i am sure i will have THOUGHTS to share about them on the rolling contemporary nerd fiction thread. i will note in passing that one of the characters is now thinking about 'insurgents'

thomp, Friday, 9 July 2010 23:24 (eleven years ago) link

yah def - i can send you some stuff in return, if youd like. either from the nerd fic thread or this one. i have a whole bunch of nyrb publishing things i can send as well.

also i will be in LDN for a little bit this fall (like l8 sept.)

Lamp, Friday, 9 July 2010 23:30 (eleven years ago) link

Current library pile = authors from the New Yorker Top 20 Under 40 list, bits and pieces from that Dalkey ArchiveBest European Fiction 2010, Ann Carson's Autobiography Of Red, and a few recommendations from the other thread (Tom McCarthy's Remainder, Mo Yan's Life & Death...). Had been caught up playing catchup with teen fiction for some freelance pieces - writers like Libba Bray & M.T. Anderson seem to be doing what Shakey wants from fiction, heh. Nothing local's caught my eye lately (I think Eleanor Catton's had some press in the UK?), but I've picked up a few journals.

Anyone read Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad yet?

etc, Monday, 12 July 2010 03:29 (eleven years ago) link

i think there was talk abt it in some other thread?? cant remember where tho

just sayin, Monday, 12 July 2010 07:48 (eleven years ago) link

Bit of chat about a UK one here.

GamalielRatsey, Monday, 12 July 2010 09:15 (eleven years ago) link

(ayo lamp send me your address. tom dot west at gmail dot com)

thomp, Monday, 12 July 2010 10:28 (eleven years ago) link

hey dudes, it's ksh

I need to get back into the habit of reading fiction regularly again, so I've decided to start off by rereading Coetzee's Disgrace. haven't read any Coetzee since high school, I think, but I'm looking forward to revisiting this one

markers, Sunday, 18 July 2010 04:28 (eleven years ago) link

C by Tom McCarthy, anyone?

Also I see from the ILB FAP discussion that Steven Hall comes up in that list, and that was reviewed by Tom McCarthy.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 25 July 2010 19:01 (eleven years ago) link

Absolutely. The one book I'm excited by this year. I'm in the crowd that thinks Remainder was a bit special, & this is the proper follow-up, so I've been waiting for it for a bit. Should maybe try to shake a copy from the publishing tree this week.

Never had an impulse to read Steven Hall - he was recommended to me by a couple of people, but I think they were maybe assuming I'd like something a bit meta because I read curious things.

At the mo, enjoying the bloodsport reviews of Craig Raine's novel. Sounds awful, but I might read it in a bookshop. Intrigued by the bile it's generated.

tetrahedron of space (woof), Monday, 26 July 2010 10:09 (eleven years ago) link

Almost finished and I can confirm that Tinkers is wonderful.

franny glass, Monday, 26 July 2010 17:59 (eleven years ago) link

tempted to go pick up the Gary Shteyngart tomorrow in store, which I pretty much never do

markers, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 06:43 (eleven years ago) link

^i have it on hold at my library

recently finished 'atmospheric disturbances' which i liked a lot

johnny crunch, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 11:58 (eleven years ago) link

Just chatted about C to a decently connected publishing person - acc to him, a few ppl are saying it's a masterpiece, easy best novel of the year, etc. But I don't really trust the insider perspective (especially as McC's properly represented and with a big house this time), so I'm ready to be disappointed.

Think I want to read Atmospheric Disturbances.

tetrahedron of space (woof), Tuesday, 27 July 2010 14:11 (eleven years ago) link

If man's autocracy, his genius, his powers of generation, have all passed to the machine, and if the pulpy, material base for the refined and abstract thoughts and emotions that we read in books has been revealed to us, then how can we understand poetry or prose as the sublime self-expression of autonomous and elevated individuals? Melville's answer is as implicit as his question: we can't, not any more.


no, you're dead right, it's a macaroon (ledge), Tuesday, 27 July 2010 14:15 (eleven years ago) link

also am generally suspicious of anyone who writes about marinetti with breathy enthusiasm.

no, you're dead right, it's a macaroon (ledge), Tuesday, 27 July 2010 14:26 (eleven years ago) link

Booker longlist 2010:

Peter Carey: Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
Emma Donoghue: Room (Pan MacMillan - Picador)
Helen Dunmore: The Betrayal (Penguin - Fig Tree)
Damon Galgut: In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)
Howard Jacobson: The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Andrea Levy: The Long Song(Headline Publishing Group - Headline Review)
Tom McCarthy: C (Random House - Jonathan Cape)
David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet(Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)
Lisa Moore: February (Random House - Chatto & Windus)
Paul Murray: Skippy Dies (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)
Rose Tremain: Trespass (Random House - Chatto & Windus)
Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)
Alan Warner: The Stars in the Bright Sky (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

Thoughts? I've only read one of these (The Slap, fucking brilliant) so I feel unqualified to really comment.

franny glass, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 19:50 (eleven years ago) link

Shit--have read none, though I've bought but not yet opened the Paul Murray.

The great big red thing, for those who like a surprise (James Morrison), Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:00 (eleven years ago) link

I've read the Paul Murray. It's enjoyable but it didn't exactly wow me and i'm not sure it really justifies it's length. Kind of surprised to see it on here tbh. Quite refreshing not to see Ian McEwan on there though.

Number None, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:09 (eleven years ago) link

still need to buy & read Solar. so out of the loop u_u

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:16 (eleven years ago) link

you really dont

max, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:18 (eleven years ago) link

is it bad? i've read a bunch of McEwan and the only thing I really wasn't a fan of was Amsterdam

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:18 (eleven years ago) link

by a bunch I mean, like, four of five

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:18 (eleven years ago) link

he kinda sucks, i think

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:19 (eleven years ago) link


Number None, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:20 (eleven years ago) link

i don't think he sucks at all, but that's not the point. curious to hear max's opinion

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:25 (eleven years ago) link

oh i was just being flippant. i didnt read it. i dont like him, or what he 'stands for.' he comes across like an asshole in interviews. but i met him once and he was vaguely nice.

max, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:28 (eleven years ago) link

oh cool. I think I've seen like one interview with him or something, but that was a long time ago so I don't really remember it. my opinion of him is more or less based on just reading his stuff. we were assigned Atonement in 11th grade or whatever and I read Amsterdam, Cement Garden, and Saturday after that -- all in high school and right after I graduated -- and then I picked up On Chesil Beach when it was released back in 2007. i liked Saturday the best

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:30 (eleven years ago) link

actually not sure if I even read all of Atonement

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:31 (eleven years ago) link

you missed a pretty crucial ending, dumbass

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:32 (eleven years ago) link

a "twist" ending

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:32 (eleven years ago) link


max, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:32 (eleven years ago) link

youll never know if 'atonement' 'occurs'

max, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:32 (eleven years ago) link

hey Que, can you shut the fuck up and leave me alone?

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:33 (eleven years ago) link

you follow me into every fucking thread, and at this point it's more or less harassment

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:33 (eleven years ago) link

hey, just saying. Atonement has a twist ending and if you didn't read the whole thing, you missed something crucial.

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:35 (eleven years ago) link

i'm not fucking kidding about the harassment, dude. i never did anything to you as far as I remember, but you make it a point to make my posting experience here way less enjoyable everyday. i understand you don't like me, and i don't care about that or if you actually still think i'm a sock, but you need to just leave me alone

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:36 (eleven years ago) link


Part four

The fourth section, titled "London 1999", is written from Briony's perspective. She is a successful novelist at the age of 77 and dying of vascular dementia.

It is revealed that Briony is the author of the preceding sections of the novel. Although Cecilia and Robbie are reunited in Briony's novel, they were not in reality. Robbie Turner died of septicemia caused by his injury on the beaches of Dunkirk and Cecilia was killed by the bomb that destroyed the gas and water mains above Balham Underground station. The truth is that Cecilia and Robbie never saw each other again after their half-hour meeting. Although the detail concerning Lola's marriage to Paul Marshall is true, Briony never visited Cecilia to make amends.

Briony explains why she decided to change real events and unite Cecilia and Robbie in her novel, although it was not her intention in her many previous drafts. She did not see what purpose it would serve if she told the readers the pitiless truth. She reasons that they could not draw any sense of hope or satisfaction from it. But above all, she wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia their happiness by being together. Since they could not have the time together they so much longed for in reality, Briony wanted to give it to them at least in her novel.

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:36 (eleven years ago) link

sorry i called you a dumbass dude. i hardly post anymore, so i don't know what you mean about following you into threads. but i will leave this one, ok?

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:41 (eleven years ago) link

it's ok. there are a million times where you've showed up and attacked me for what I thought was pretty innocuous stuff -- all I'm asking you to do is to back off it

markers, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:44 (eleven years ago) link

MURMUR is wonderful, he repeats

The Long Take by Robin Robertson: this is interesting but not deserving of the praise it gets, and I say this as a devotee of the film noir movies it revels in. It's a novel in verse, but if ever there was some poetry that was just obviously prose with regular line breaks put in, it's this.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 29 September 2018 08:53 (three years ago) link

Murmur is phenomenal, I read it in one sitting on the beach but I keep casting my mind back to it. It's full of narrative tricks but they're only ever enhancing rather than undercutting the big thematic stuff and its (substantial) emotional heft.

Matt DC, Saturday, 29 September 2018 11:53 (three years ago) link

I absolutely loved In Our Mad & Furious City as well, but a coming-of-age London novel full of grime music and racial/religious tensions was never not going to appeal to me, but the potential to have done something utterly cringeworthy and try-hard was vast and he manages to avoid all that entirely.

Matt DC, Saturday, 29 September 2018 11:56 (three years ago) link

There is lots of good stuff in that Vulture list but plenty of eyeroll moments as well.

The inclusion of Mary Gaitskell's Veronica in there made me genuinely happy but everyone concerned should be embarrassed to appear in a list alongside Capital.

Matt DC, Saturday, 29 September 2018 12:01 (three years ago) link

Just ordered Murmer on the back of those mentions.

FRE SHA VAC ADO (jed_), Saturday, 29 September 2018 14:46 (three years ago) link

or off the back?

FRE SHA VAC ADO (jed_), Saturday, 29 September 2018 14:47 (three years ago) link

I think it's "off the back"?

I realized that Edward St Aubyn wasn't on that list either which is, imo, another pretty bad omission for such an anglophile list.

I came across a copy of Dunbar, his entry in the Hogarth Shakespeare Series, "updating" King Lear which I'm looking forward to reading. Will also stan for Helen Dewitt's Lightning Rods. Did anyone read the collection of short stories she published earlier in the year?

Federico Boswarlos, Tuesday, 2 October 2018 16:23 (three years ago) link

Yes! Pick 'em up. It'll make you believe in yourself.

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Tuesday, 2 October 2018 16:31 (three years ago) link

Jesus christ, Murmur destroyed me. I read much of the last sections with my eyes itching with tears.

There's swathes of it I didn't understand but I'll get some thoughts together once I've pulled myself together!

FRE SHA VAC ADO (jed_), Monday, 8 October 2018 21:30 (three years ago) link

I realized that Edward St Aubyn wasn't on that list either which is, imo, another pretty bad omission for such an anglophile list.

his best books came out in the '90s

Number None, Monday, 8 October 2018 21:45 (three years ago) link

Mallarme's The Book has had its first complete translation!

xyzzzz__, Monday, 8 October 2018 22:01 (three years ago) link

a friend of mine wrote a very well received (apparently radical) translation of (some of) Mallermé's poem's xyz. could be of interest to you:

FRE SHA VAC ADO (jed_), Monday, 8 October 2018 22:11 (three years ago) link


xyzzzz__, Monday, 8 October 2018 22:23 (three years ago) link

I realized that Edward St Aubyn wasn't on that list either which is, imo, another pretty bad omission for such an anglophile list.

his best books came out in the '90s

― Number None, Monday, October 8, 2018 10:45 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Controversial! I think Mother's Milk and At Last were the best of the Patrick Melrose books.

Federico Boswarlos, Tuesday, 9 October 2018 16:54 (three years ago) link

it's controversial to think those are the best ones.

FRE SHA VAC ADO (jed_), Tuesday, 9 October 2018 17:35 (three years ago) link

xyzzz and jed, thanks for both Mallarmé recs!

lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 9 October 2018 17:39 (three years ago) link

Lol, no it's not but it does seem like his reputation and recent popularity (fwiw) over the last 5-6 years hinge more on his recent work.

Federico Boswarlos, Tuesday, 9 October 2018 19:05 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

seems like a good list

flopson, Thursday, 15 November 2018 21:46 (two years ago) link

maybe i just want to read The Incendiaries

flopson, Thursday, 15 November 2018 21:48 (two years ago) link

That intro paragraph is pretty self-congratulatory given the list features only American writers. (Although, tbf, one of them lives part of the time in Canada)

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 16 November 2018 01:04 (two years ago) link

two months pass...

Not sure where to put this so

This is my favourite thing on Twitter today. It’s beautiful!

— Bethany Black (@BeffernieBlack) February 10, 2019

Norm’s Superego (silby), Monday, 11 February 2019 01:05 (two years ago) link


Only a Factory URL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 11 February 2019 01:37 (two years ago) link


imago, Monday, 11 February 2019 07:14 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

some very good looking things here. v interested in the two Joyce-related books, Lucia and Dedalus.

Acting Crazy (Instrumental) (jed_), Tuesday, 5 March 2019 22:26 (two years ago) link

They announced the shortlist in the last day or two, in case you missed it - both the Joyce-related things made it through.

It does look a good list, I'm looking forward to reading the Lord Kitchener one, and I'm very pleased for the Henningham Family Press people, who I've run into once or twice and who seem like righteous folk.

Tim, Tuesday, 5 March 2019 23:33 (two years ago) link

I did miss it, thanks Tim.

Acting Crazy (Instrumental) (jed_), Tuesday, 5 March 2019 23:39 (two years ago) link

That's a badly written article!

Acting Crazy (Instrumental) (jed_), Tuesday, 5 March 2019 23:50 (two years ago) link

Haha I didn’t even read past the list.

Tim, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 00:03 (two years ago) link

The Wendy Erskine stories are v good.

FernandoHierro, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 07:42 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

Uwe Johnson - Anniversaries
Varlam Shamalov - Kolyma Tales

Dag Solstad - Armand V/T Singer
Svetlana Alexivech - THe Unwomanly Face of War

Other Publishers:
Wolfgang Hilbig -The Tidings of the Trees/The Females
Helen DeWitt - Some Trick
Gerald Murnane - The Plains

Emily Wilson - The Odyssey

― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 21 January 2018 Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Adding these as notable new releases. Penguin have been doing good by euro/foreign fiction:

Pavese - The Beautiful Summer
Violette Leduc - The Lady and the Little Fox Fur

Lots and lots from New Directions:

Dasa Drndic:
Natalia Ginzburg:
Two new Hrabals:

NYRB have put out

Serge's Notebooks is probably the most interesting they've put out this year (but that's just me lol):

As to what is forthcoming this is an interesting collection:



xyzzzz__, Sunday, 23 June 2019 10:23 (two years ago) link

As for Archipelago I am quite looking forward to these Onetti short stories, the guy is due a revival:

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 23 June 2019 10:26 (two years ago) link

In terms of re-issues I haven't read I'll get this:

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 23 June 2019 10:58 (two years ago) link

Those Storyteller essays have been available from Verso for a couple of years, assuming its the same selection. Very much want the Musil.

Agree re the Penguin European books. Just wish they'd publish more than 4 books a year.

four months pass...

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann won the Goldsmiths prize - amazingly, the second time a book from Galley Beggar Press has won after A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing in 2013.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 23:09 (one year ago) link

Cool! I'm still only at sentence three, but it's quite good

Frederik B, Wednesday, 13 November 2019 23:34 (one year ago) link


A book of theirs also won/split the republic of consciousness prize earlier in the Year. I need to read Lucia. Murmer is astonishing.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Thursday, 14 November 2019 00:39 (one year ago) link

Contemporary literature

The person opposite me on the district line is reading a book. I stare at the title. It is “Drive your plough over the bones of the the dead.”

— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) November 14, 2019

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 November 2019 09:38 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Sorry wrong link

And there is this too. Vol. 1 is fucking great:

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 14:26 (one year ago) link

Julio Ramón Ribeyro

Forgot this, haven't seen a review of it but looks good

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 14:34 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

A good piece on vol. II

xyzzzz__, Monday, 22 February 2021 21:40 (eight months ago) link

Wow, thanks--hadn't seen yr link for Vol.1, so thanks for that too.

dow, Monday, 22 February 2021 22:05 (eight months ago) link

Do I want to read the Patricia Lockwood novel? My concern is I'm on Twitter too much as it is and why do I want to see what I don't like about it rendered in fiction? But everybody says it's good.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 22 February 2021 22:06 (eight months ago) link

Gotta say that from a review the narrator logs off to look after some family tragedy and I'm like, logging off is a mistake never log off. Doubt it would be any good.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 22 February 2021 22:09 (eight months ago) link

I'm sure it'll be very funny if nothing else.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 11:40 (seven months ago) link

I'm halfway through, it is very funny and skewers the problem of being Extremely Online but (as with everything Extremely Online) it lacks gravitas, however I've only just reached the family tragedy. Will post a full review on the shiny new Patricia Lockwood c/d thread.

ledge, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 11:43 (seven months ago) link

three months pass...

Really good piece on Mieko Kawakami in this week's New Yorker.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 4 June 2021 18:46 (four months ago) link

Mieko Kawakami’s novel “Heaven,” about two teens targeted by bullies, shows us how to think about morality as an ongoing, dramatic activity.

— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) June 3, 2021

xyzzzz__, Friday, 4 June 2021 18:47 (four months ago) link

Sean Cotter, king of Romanian translation, took a break from revising his complete draft of SOLENOID (!) to get his hands on his remarkable translation of Magda Carneci’s FEM just out from us @deepvellum! Read this modern classic of global feminist lit!

— Will Evans (@willevans) June 9, 2021

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 10 June 2021 10:11 (four months ago) link

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