Saturday, May 16, 2015

Novels that Reflect the 2000s

A history teacher at my school was recently looking for a book that "defines or represents the 2000s" the way that Gatsby does the 1920s.  In thinking about it, I considered a few that have been considered indicative of the times.  Notably the work of Jonathan Franzen has "bookended" the decade with The Corrections in 2000 and Freedom on 2012.  He would probably be the one most often credited with capturing the decade.

We could also mention the work of Tom Wolfe who captured the 1980s with Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990s with A Man in Full, and the 2000s with I am Charlotte Simmons in 2006 andBack to Blood in 2012.  Back to Blood is about immigration and Charlotte is about a college freshman whose eyes are opened by her experience at a college and world far more liberal than she.

From my own view, I think TC Boyle is a great contemporary writer, but I don't know if he captures the 2000s exactly.  One interesting work recently is a satire by Jess Walter called The Financial Lives of Poets, published in 2010.  It is considered to be the first book written about the effects of the crash of 2008.  And, of course, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the first to directly take on the 9/11 tragedy.

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