Cover: Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction, from Harvard University PressCover: Cool Characters in HARDCOVER

Cool Characters

Irony and American Fiction

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Product Details


$43.50 • £34.95 • €39.00

ISBN 9780674967885

Publication Date: 03/07/2016


384 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


An impressive breadth of scholarship… Each chapter offers new insights… Each of the book’s characterological types exemplifies a style of engagement with political and economic realities; by approaching recent American fiction in such a novel way, Konstantinou contributes not only to literary studies but to our ongoing discussion of those realities as well.—Benjamin Madden, The Times Literary Supplement

Cool Characters is a remarkably thorough work of literary scholarship, most valuable for how it unravels the political thinking of canonical American writers (Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer), as well as some celebrated contemporary writers.—Maggie Doherty, Dissent

A crisply intelligent and very readable study of irony’s literary trajectory.—Dustin Illingworth, Literary Hub

Excellent, well-read and well-written… [An] insightful, provocative and necessary book in literary studies.—Robert Eaglestone, Times Higher Education

Cool Characters is a major work of criticism that promises to transform the study of post–World War II American literature. It will be of enormous interest to graduate students and professors in the field, as well as to anyone interested in the state of contemporary literature.—Michael Clune, author of White Out

Lee Konstantinou’s Cool Characters is the best study of post-1945 fiction that I have read since Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, and it will no doubt be as influential.—Andrew Hoberek, author of The Twilight of the Middle Class

Konstantinou tells the story of ‘how postmodernism became historical’ with some of the verve of a novelist, but without sacrificing any of the virtues we expect to find in the work of a top-notch cultural critic. It is, in the most surprising way, a character-driven story, and one that sets out to answer a key question about our now routinely ironic culture: how might we take it and ourselves seriously again?—Mark McGurl, author of The Program Era

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