The 50 Best Works of Non-Realist Fiction of the 21st Century (Part 3 of 5)
Some of the most creative books of our time are kept off the literary fiction shelves because of their genre origins
Here’s the third installment of my guide to the 50 best non-realist works of fiction since 2000. This survey includes books of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, alternate history, and other reality-busting genres.
As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe some of the most interesting and creative writing of recent years is taking place in these categories—but the books still get removed from consideration for prizes, syllabi, reviews, etc. because of their links to commercial genres. If you experiment with language, you can get an award, but if you dare experiment with our concepts of reality, you’re treated as a purveyor of escapist entertainment for adolescents.
As in previous installments, each item on the list links to a full review of the book from my Vault (a collection of 436 articles available to paid subscribers of The Honest Broker).
China Miéville: Embassytown (2011)
China Miéville envisions an alien race, the Ariekei, with a peculiar disability—they are incapable of expressing anything in language that does not exist in reality. As a result they can’t tell lies, or even use the kind of metaphorical language humans take for granted. By the time Miéville has worked all his variations on this theme, he has not only crafted a fast-paced, exciting story filled with unexpected twists and turns, but also explored a dizzying array of philosophical, sociological, and theological implications of his opening gambit. I’ve read few novels in recent years—whether sci-fi or mainstream—which invite so many different interpretive stances. (More at this link)
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