The Oxford guide to contemporary writing

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John Sturrock
Oxford University Press, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 492 pages
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Contemporary writing is arguably the most exciting and attractive reading matter for a vast majority of readers--but by its nature it is the least charted. What, for instance, are the most interesting novels written in Israel in the last few years? Who are the leading contemporary writers in Australia? Or, for that matter, in the United States? Now, The Oxford Guide to Contemporary Writing--uniquely international in range and up to date in coverage--provides in 28 insightful and eminently readable chapters an accessible, informative, and fluent account of all that is most significant and worth reading in the mass of writing since 1960. Truly international in scope, The Oxford Guide to Contemporary Writing covers the recent literature of cultures as various as Australian and Spanish-American, French, Israeli, and Canadian, New Zealand and Russian, as well as American, English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish. Here are discussions of the movements, noteworthy publishing events, and literary happenings in world cultures, with frank and lively opinions on the individuals and artists involved, including James Wood on the English, ("Intelligence is [A.S.] Byatt's greatest problem as a writer. She has never learned how to subjugate it"); John Taylor on the French (he dubs Debord's Panegyric the "most remarkably pure autobiography of recent times"); Rhys Williams on the literature of German-speaking countries ("This was the generation of the student movement, but also of urban terrorism"); Mark Morris on Japan (who explains the difference between shosetsu, roughly akin to the novel, and junbungaku, or "pure literature"). Not merely an annotated bibliography of authors and titles, The Oxford Guide to Contemporary Literature is an intriguing narrative in its own right, and a provocative source for new reading ideas and divergent literary paths to tread. Written by experts, but demanding no specialist knowledge of the reader, it concentrates on fiction and poetry, but is generously inclusive in its scope; each chapter provides a wealth of biographical and background information, informed criticism, suggestions for further reading, and an often controversial view of contemporary writing and its development. Sturrock's aim in compiling The Guide has been to create a volume that is helpful, but not definitive: the judgements it contains may invite disagreement, but they are offered in a spirit of incitement and excitement about reading and writing, a roadmap to previously unknown or obscure authors worth tracking down, or whole literatures worth a closer look. The Oxford Guide to Contemporary Literature will be an invaluable companion for anyone for whom a good book is time well spent.

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African Countries JEREMY HARDING
Arab Countries ROBERT IRWIN

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About the author (1996)

About the Editor:
John Sturrock is consulting editor of The London Review of Books. He is the author of The French New Novel, Paper Tigers: The Ideal Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges, and the editor of Structuralism and Since.

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