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The essential companion for lovers of the contemporary novel
Over the past fifty years, fiction in English has never looked more various. Books bulkier than Victorian three-deckers appear alongside works of minimalist brevity, and experiments with form have produced everything from verse novels to Twitter-thread narratives. This is truly a golden age. But what unites this kaleidoscopic array of genres and styles? Celebrated writer and critic Peter Kemp shows how modern writers are obsessed with the past. In a series of engaging and illuminating chapters, Retroland traces this novelistic preoccupation with history, from the imperial and the political to the personal and the literary. Featuring famous names from across the United Kingdom, United States, and the wider Anglophone world, ranging from Salman Rushdie to Sarah Waters, Toni Morrison to Hilary Mantel, this is a work of remarkable synthesis and clarity—a wonderfully readable and enjoyably opinionated guide to our current literary landscape.
About the Author
Peter Kemp is chief fiction reviewer for the Sunday Times. He is the author of books on Muriel Spark and H. G. Wells, editor of The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations, and associate editor of The Oxford Companion to English Literature.
“Altogether, a stimulating and useful enterprise.”—Kevin Power, Irish Times
“It is very possible that Peter Kemp is the best-read man in Britain.” —Ian Sansom, The Spectator
“Peter Kemp has held the torch for fiction over many years—scrupulous, devoted to his favourite authors, and insightful about emerging talent.”—Edna O’Brien
“An exhilarating gallop across the landscape of recent English-language fiction. You may not share all of Peter Kemp’s trans-genre enthusiasms, but you will certainly be awed by his omnivorous appetite and will come away with at least a dozen books you are now itching to read.”—Sebastian Faulks
“Readable and enjoyable as well as informative. The sort of book that keen novel readers should buy and praise.”—Lindsay Duguid
“No one knows more about fiction over the last 50 years than Peter Kemp. He has been a fearless and fiercely knowledgeable and entertaining critic for decades, and in this fascinating book he offers a completely original take on the modern novel—one that will completely change how we think about what we all have been reading.”—Andrew Holgate
“A rich, vivid, and endlessly informative book, with an awe-inspiring command of detail.”—Leo Robson