Using (or Not Using) Quotation Marks in Fiction: Background information when reading Memorial

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Memorial

by Bryan Washington

Memorial by Bryan Washington X
Memorial by Bryan Washington
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    Oct 2020, 320 pages

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Rebecca Foster
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Using (or Not Using) Quotation Marks in Fiction

This article relates to Memorial

James Joyce A lack of quotation marks around dialogue is a pet peeve for some readers. Yet it seems to be an increasingly popular stylistic choice in literary fiction, and one that Bryan Washington opts to use in his debut novel Memorial. You may have also encountered this approach in books by Jesse Ball, Junot Diaz, Bernardine Evaristo, Kate Grenville, Kent Haruf, Daisy Johnson, Miranda July, Cormac McCarthy, Sarah Moss, Sigrid Nunez, Max Porter, Ali Smith, Sarah Winman and Jacqueline Woodson.

Quotation mark usage as we know it only dates back to the 16th century, making it a relatively new form of punctuation. Earlier manuscripts indicated speech in a variety of other ways: with the speaker's name, by italicizing speech or by underlining. The visual predecessor to quotation marks was the diple (>), a mark originating in ancient Greece that was placed in the margins of texts to draw attention to significant sections. When quotation marks ('') — or inverted commas, as they're ...

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