Metafiction & Unreliable Narrators: Background information when reading The Long Song

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The Long Song

A Novel

by Andrea Levy

The Long Song
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 320 pages
    Apr 2011, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Metafiction & Unreliable Narrators

What is Metafiction?
It depends on whom you ask, as the term is somewhat slippery, meaning that various authors and literary critics define it differently. William H. Gass coined the term in 1970 in an essay entitled "Philosophy and the Form of Fiction". Commenting on American fiction of the 1960s, Gass pointed out that a new term was needed for the emerging genre of experimental texts that openly broke with the tradition of literary realism still dominant in post-WW II American literature. Metafiction is thus an elastic concept covering a wide range of fictions.

John Barth (Lost in the Funhouse), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale), Kurt Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions), A. S. Byatt (Possession) and Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children) are a few authors who have either claimed to write in a metafictional style or were viewed that way by critics and literary theorists.

In The Long Song, a woman is writing a book about Miss July, the slave. That woman turns out...

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