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Chapter 6 - Putting Everything on the Table

Markets and Material Conditions in Twenty-First-Century Fiction

from Part IV - The Moment of Market Metafiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 July 2019

Paul Crosthwaite
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
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Summary

This chapter argues that market metafiction has emerged as the vanguard fictional style of the post-financial crisis period. It begins by discussing the work of Tao Lin and Chris Kraus. The remainder of the chapter analyses two recent works of market metafiction that exemplify the paradigm, even as they register and contest differing financial and literary market logics. In Ben Lerner’s 10:04 (2014), attempts to deal with risk and uncertainty central to derivatives trading provide models for “hedging” between different forms of literary value, so that underperformance in market terms may be offset against critical approbation. In Teju Cole’s Open City (2011), meanwhile, the depredations of what David Harvey calls “the Wall Street–IMF–Treasury complex” are seen to be of a piece with the global publishing industry’s exploitation of images of African suffering. In his novel, Cole deliberately sidesteps these stereotyped and voyeuristic images, while at the same time acknowledging the privilege that permits him (now a relatively affluent and highly educated New Yorker) to perform precisely such a resistance to market-dictated convention.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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