My favourite books of 2011 all contain some degree of metafiction. It seems as though metafiction has come of age this year, with authors embracing the unconventional to produce wonderfully original books.
What is Metafiction?
Metafiction is a term used to describe books that self-consciously step outside the typical narrative style of fiction; they may address the reader directly or play with the reader’s perception of the book’s reality.
In recent years I have noticed a big increase in the number of metafictional novels. I think social media has enabled writers to feel more comfortable with directly addressing their audience. The way these authors push the boundaries of the typical novel impresses me and I think the continual rise of new technology will only encourage authors to create a greater range of these books.
My Favourite Books of 2011
The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus is the cleverest example I’ve come across. The book begins with an email to a literary agent enclosing the first chapter of a yet to be published novel. Through a series of email conversations the reader gets an insight into the publishing industry, the thrill of reading an exposé of celebrity culture and an incredibly intelligent subplot revolving around who the author really is. This is metafiction at its best and I’m sad it failed to be highlighted by any of the major awards this year.
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst defies genre classification. On the surface it is a murder mystery, but the book also contains extracts from novels written by the narrator. These novels are then re-written over the course of the book, giving an insight into how our perspective of events changes as we age. The book also directly addresses the reader at many points:
I was impressed by the ambitiousness of this novel. It was thought-provoking as well as entertaining and I hope many more people decide to read it.
How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely is the funniest book I’ve read this year. It is a parody of the publishing industry and takes an entertaining look at what it means to be a best-selling author. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the publishing industry.
The Biggest Books of 2011
You may not of heard of the above books so I’ll need to step away from my favourites if I’m to convince you that 2011 is the year of metafiction.
The biggest book of the year is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.
How about the biggest US release, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides?
Do you think 2011 is the year of the metafictional novel?
Do your favourites include many metafictional books?