“Room for More”

Sanjena Sathian

These days, in the literary world, the only thing trendier and triter than writing autofiction is hating autofiction. But love or loathe it, you can’t avoid talking about it — and its uncertain future. For a decade, it has reigned as the successor to the highly narrativized, stylized, maximalist “hysterical realism” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. After tiring of books like Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex,...

“An Opportunity to Act”

Tope Folarin

Two new literary genres emerged during the opening weeks of the pandemic. The first, the pandemic journal, proliferated almost as quickly as the virus that kept millions of us locked inside; by the summer of 2020 it seemed as if every literary and literary-adjacent platform had secured a roster of writers to opine about their daily habits, fears, and truncated ambitions. Depending on your perspective, the pandemic journal was either...

“The Stare”

Gabriel Smith

A friend, a physicist and schizophrenic, told me recently about how she knows a break is coming.  “How I see the world completely changes,” she said. “It’s called ‘The Stare.’ Everything takes on a total hyperreality. Like reality is only what it is, and nothing else. It’s the scariest part. More scary than the break. Because you feel you’re seeing the true nature of things for the first time. And...

“Form Is Back”

Missouri Williams

Novels have become interesting again, and just in time. Readers have finally had enough of the self and its dilemmas, and writers have become less afraid of upsetting them, or of testing their patience. The protagonist of Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour, Mira, is drawn up into a leaf where she undertakes interminable philosophical dialogues with her dead father (who also lives in the leaf), while the narrator of Claire-Louise Bennett’s...

“Welcome to the Party”

Christian Lorentzen

The vogue in the 2010s for “autofiction” was a result of certain ongoing and waning trends that led to a conjuncture: 1. The memoir, once the province either of celebrities or writers at the end of the line, had risen in prominence as a commercial form. This led to a market opening for a similar genre that called itself fiction and that was less reliant on tropes of confession and...

“The Spirit of Revival”

Andrew Martin

In 2008, n+1 devoted part of its “Intellectual Situation” to the New York Review Books’s then fairly new Classics line, writing that “the spirit of revival may be the spirit of an age that believes it is at the end of something, and therefore looks around for eccentric practices and goes through its backfiles for someplace to restart.” I remember chafing at the time at the pejorative, oddly squeamish implication...

“A Loss of Resolution”

Alexandra Kleeman

With no official end or sentimental sendoff, it seems as though autofiction’s time as a reigning form, a privileged container for the contemporary moment, has begun to dwindle. In retrospect, it’s clear that we loved autofiction in part because it upheld deep-rooted myths about how special we were, even as we moved within the mundane career-building, self-constructing rhythms of our lives. In a scene from Rachel Cusk’s Outline where the...

“Nothing Happens”

Clare Sestanovich

When the Mueller report was released in April 2019, you could buy it in bookstores. A lot of people did: it quickly climbed to the top of the Times Best Seller list. In addition to being explained by journalists, the report was evaluated by literary critics, including Dwight Garner, veteran of the Times book review, and Michiko Kakutani, his former colleague, whose power has turned her name into a verb....

“Here Comes the Break” | On Literary Fiction Today

Alexandra Kleeman, Andrew Martin, Christian Lorentzen, Clare Sestanovich, Gabriel Smith, Hannah Gold, Lucie Elven, Missouri Williams, Sanjena Sathian, Tope Folarin

As we were preparing to launch this magazine, we told our first cohort of writers not to pitch us anything about contemporary fiction. We were bored by it, we said — mostly but not entirely tongue-in-cheek.  This issue, we’re making an exception. It seems to us that the literary ground has shifted, and the forms and themes considered most exciting just a few years ago are now all but exhausted....

Everything Has Changed | Green Capitalism and the Climate Left

Jake Bittle

The world was a very different place in 2014. The eight largest wildfires in California history had yet to occur, as had seven of the fifteen costliest hurricanes in American history. The sea level off the coast of Miami was a full inch lower. Fewer than thirty percent of Americans believed addressing climate change should be a top priority for the federal government. There had not yet been a Paris...

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