Bishnupriya Ghosh, Melody Jue, Rita Raley, Tess Shewry

Notes to Examinees

  • “Or” = student choice, i.e. choose one of the graphic novels, one of the Hamid novels, etc.
  • Please submit a copy of the list with your selections highlighted at least one month in advance of the exam.
  • The compilation of resources at the end of this document is for reference only. Some of this material may help you think about “21st century” as both a literary-historical field and professional community. Book titles, TOCs, and conference programs will all give you some indication of the range of research questions, concepts, paradigms, and methods for scholars working in the contemporary period.
  • The exam committee will be reviewing this list every two years to update the “recent” works category and propose slight revisions as needed.

Reading List

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)
  • Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (2008)
  • Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)
  • Paul Beatty, The Sellout (2015)
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006); Charles Burns, Black Hole (2005); Nick Drnaso, Sabrina (2018); Art Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers (2004); or Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000)
  • Octavia Butler, Fledgling (2005); Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf (2019); or N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2015)
  • Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) or The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007)
  • Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others (2002) AND Exhalation: Stories (2019); Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie (2016); or Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (2017)
  • J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello (2003)
  • Teju Cole, Open City (2012)
  • Rachel Cusk, Outline (2014) (read the trilogy if possible)
  • Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves (2000); Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes (2010); or Salvador Plascencia, The People of Paper (2005)
  • Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)
  • Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)
  • Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2011)
  • Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) or The Circle (2013)
  • Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001) or The Round House (2012)
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)
  • Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001) or Freedom (2010)
  • Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2004)
  • Abdulrazah Gurnah, By the Sea (2001)
  • Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) or Exit West (2017)
  • Sheila Heti, How Should a Person Be? (2010) or Tao Lin, Taipei (2013)
  • Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty (2004) or Ian McEwan, Atonement (2002)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
  • Edward P. Jones, The Known World (2003)
  • Hari Kunzru, The Impressionist (2002), Transmission (2004), or Red Pill (2020)
  • Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (2013)
  • Ben Lerner, 10:04 (2014) or The Topeka School (2019)
  • Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)
  • Tom McCarthy, Remainder (2005) or Joseph O’Neill, Netherland (2008)
  • Zakes Mda, Heart of Redness (2000); Zoë Wicomb, David’s Story (2000); or Achmat Dangor, Bitter Fruit (2001)
  • Becky Manawatu, Auē (2019); Deborah Miranda, Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (2012); Tommy Orange, There There (2018); or Alexis Wright, The Swan Book (2013)
  • David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (2015)
  • Jenny Offill, Weather (2020); Richard Powers, The Overstory (2018); or Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011)
  • Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (2013)
  • M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong! (2011)
  • Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice (2009) or Bleeding Edge (2013)
  • Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)
  • Philip Roth, The Plot Against America (2004)
  • Salman Rushdie, Fury (2001), Shalimar the Clown (2005), or Quichotte (2019)
  • George Saunders, Tenth of December (2013) or Lincoln in the Bardo (2017)
  • Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010)
  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000) or NW (2012)
  • Colson Whitehead, Zone One (2011), The Underground Railroad (2016), or The Nickel Boys (2019)
  • Recent works (choose one): Deepa Anappara, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (2020); Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North (2021); Tash Aw, We, the Survivors (2019); Anna Burns, Milkman (2018); Susan Choi, Trust Exercise (2019); Danielle Evans, The Office of Historical Corrections (2020); Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina (2020); Damon Galgut, The Promise (2021); Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry (2018); Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This (2021); Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive (2019); Ling Ma, Severance (2019); Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House (2019); Otessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018); Lauren Oyler, Fake Accounts (2021); Sally Rooney, Normal People (2018); Brandon Taylor, Real Life (2020); Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019); Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown (2020)
  • Short story collections (choose one): Daniel Alarcón, The King Is Always Above the People (2017); Colin Barrett, Young Skins (2015); Lucia Berlin, A Manual for Cleaning Women (2015); Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker (2004); Lauren Groff, Florida (2018); Charles Johnson, Nighthawks (2018); Phil Klay, Redeployment (2014); Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth (2008); Yiyun Li, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2005); Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking (2015); Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001) or Runaway (2004); Lynne Tillman, American Genius, A Comedy (2006); David Foster Wallace, Oblivion (2004)
  • Poetry and experimental writing (choose two): Tusiata Avia, Fale Aitu/ Spirit House (2016); Christian Bök, The Xenotext (2015); Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (2001) OR Nox (2010); Forrest Gander, Be With (2019) AND Twice Alive (2021); Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014); Kenneth Goldsmith, The Weather (2005); Joy Harjo, An American Sunrise (2019); Terrance Hayes, Lighthead (2010) OR American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018); Cathy Park Hong, Dance Dance Revolution (2007); Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter (2017); Fred Moten, The Feel Trio (2014); Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (2015); Craig Santos Perez, Habitat Threshold (2020); Solmaz Sharif, Look (2016); Kate Zambreno, Heroines (2012)


Book series

  • Columbia UP (“Literature Now”)
  • Cambridge Studies in Twenty-First-Century Literature and Culture
  • Stanford UP (“Post45”)
  • U of Iowa P (“The New American Canon”)
  • Routledge (Studies in Contemporary Literature)
  • Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction
  • Duke UP (“New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century”)
  • Palgrave (“American Literature Readings in the 21st Century”)
  • University of South Carolina (“Understanding Contemporary American Literature”)
  • Bloomsbury (“New Horizons in Contemporary Writing”; “Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction”)

Scholarly organizations

  • ASAP (Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present)
  • MLA forums in American, English, Anglophone, and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies are now “20th and 21st Century”

Anthologies, encyclopedias, and field articulations

American Literature in Transition, 2000-2010 (Cambridge UP)