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The Writers’ Room: Millennial Fiction

Is millennial fiction even really a thing?
Is millennial fiction even really a thing?

How many times have you checked your phone today?

While millennials — like all groups — are not monolithic, there are certain cultural touchstones that have come to shape the millennial experience. And they’re showing up in literature produced by writers in this age group (anyone born between 1981 and 1996,  according to The Pew Research Center). Characters scroll through social media, banter over a meal and make wry observations about the world around them. But what it means to be a “millennial writer” is still hard to define, and altogether remains a contentious idea. 

From Olivia Sudjic, writing in The Guardian:

In contrast to the ways they are marketed and their media reception, millennial novels, if they have a common aim, push against labels, pedestals and the uncritical lauding of spokespeople. They care more about being relatable to a specific audience than a universal one. This resistance, bordering on impostor syndrome, is part of what makes them feel true to the millennials who read them. The protagonists of these novels eyeroll at marketing taglines, tired hierarchies, male canons and influencers. Self-definition is a millennial forte, but its novelists seem dubious of anything so earnest as defining a literary epoch. Their fictional worlds lambast our need for external validation and commodified selfhood of the kind that feeds late capitalism, even as they acknowledge their complicity and the impossibility of extrication.

Does millennial fiction even really exist? And what makes it distinct? We bring together a group of writers to talk about it.

This show is a part of our series, The Writers’ Room.

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame