Suspend Your Disbelief

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Literature of the Workplace

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In The New York Times, Book Review editor Jennifer Schuessler discusses the evolution of office-lit and why working the double shift might actually be shaping contemporary novels:

Enough with the cozy stay-at-home dramas and urban picaresques featuring young slackers with no identifiable paycheck! The literary novel needs more tinkers and tailors, the argument goes. (The best-seller list seems to take care of the soldiers and spies.) In a video introduction to the latest issue of Granta, dedicated to the theme of “Work,” John Freeman, the magazine’s editor, lamented the literary “invisibility” of daily toil. The essayist Alain de Botton, writing in The Boston Globe, recently called for a new literature “that can proclaim the intelligence, peculiarity, beauty and horror of the workplace.”

Maybe we could look at office-lit as another form of regional, place-based fiction. Or is workplace-based fiction the new vampire novel? Only time will tell.

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