What will 21st century fiction look like? Acclaimed literary critic Adam Kirsch examines some of our most beloved writers, including Haruki Murakami, Elena Ferrante, Roberto Bolano, and Margaret Atwood, to better understand literature in the age of globalization. The global novel, he finds, is not so much a genre as a way of imagining the world, one that allows the novel to address both urgent contemporary concerns -- climate change, genetic engineering, and immigration -- along with timeless themes, such as morality, society, and human relationships. Whether its stories take place on the scale of the species or the small town, the global novel situates its characters against the widest background of the imagination. The way we live now demands nothing less than the global perspective our best novelists have to offer.
Adam Kirsch is the author of three books of poems and several books of criticism and biography, including most recently The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature (W.W. Norton). His essays and reviews appear regularly in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Tablet, and other publications. He is director of the M.A. program in Jewish Studies at Columbia University and lives in New York City.