This book provides insight into the impact the 2007/8 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession had on American fiction. Employing an interdisciplinary approach which combines literary studies with anthropology, economics, sociology, and psychology, the author attempts to gauge the changes that the crisis facilitated in the American novel. Focusing on four books, Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton, Philipp Meyer’s American Rust, Sophie McManus’s The Unfortunates, and William Gibson’s The Peripheral, the study traces how they present such issues as poverty, wealth, equality, distinction, opportunity, and how they relate both to traditional criticisms of consumer culture and the US economy, particularly those issues that have received more attention as a result of the crisis. It also tackles the issue of genre and interpretation in this period, as well as what methods the analyzed novels employ in order to highlight the decreasing social mobility of Americans.
Table of Contents
Chapter I: Behind the crisis: Approaches to consumer culture and economics
Chapter II: Neoliberalism and the American novel: History and method
Chapter III: Economics, inequality, and consumption: Four post-crisis novels
Conclusions: Three steps forward, two steps back
Mirosław Aleksander Miernik is an assistant professor at the Institute of English Studies at the University of Warsaw. His professional interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature and culture, with an emphasis on consumer culture and subculture studies. He has written about the impact of canon formation on sex-based discrimination, the theoretical implications of the emo subculture, and the reactions to the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the music of such artists as Nine Inch Nails and Tom Waits.