In Reading Contingency: The Accident in Contemporary Fiction, David Wylot constructs an innovative study of the relationship between plotted accidents in twenty-first century British and American fiction, the phenomenology of reading, and a contemporary experience of time that is increasingly understood to be contingent and accidental. A synthesis of literary and cultural analysis, narratology, critical theories of time and the philosophy of contingency, the book explores the accident’s imagination of contemporary time and the relationship between reading and living in novels by writers including A.M. Homes, Nicola Barker, Noah Hawley, J.M. Coetzee, J.G. Ballard, Jesmyn Ward, Jennifer Egan, and Tom McCarthy.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Accident and Contingency
Part 1: Time
Chapter 1. Forwards: Accident, Event, Picaresque
Chapter 2. Backwards: Accident, Coincidence, Teleological Retrospection
Part 2: Narrative
Chapter 3. Forwards and Backwards: Reading Contingency
Part 3: Accident Narratives
Chapter 4. Radical Contingency
Chapter 5. Unassimilable Contingency
David Wylot is Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Leeds.
"Reading Contingency: The Accident in Contemporary Fiction offers a fascinating, freshly-defined field of study sure to engage scholars, critics, and students of literature and philosophy in the experience of time and accident as found in a range of current fiction. Many writers and artists have grappled with the ways in which temporal experiences impact their characters and the relationship of the acts of reading and living in 21st century English-language fiction and Wylot provides a lucid process through which to examine these issues." (James Fisher, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
"Reading Contingency: The Accident in Contemporary Fiction makes a terrific contribution to current debates about accidents, risk, and chance in contemporary literature, but also shows how these are always entwined with the representation of time. Wylot guides the reader through some fantastic close readings of contemporary texts, illuminating each one, and helping us to understand the fundamental relationship between narrative, retrospection, and chance." (Julia Jordan, University College London)