Postmodern literature spawned as a reaction against modernist literature after World War II. Postmodern novels often do not leave a conclusive ending in their storyline for the reader as modernist novels would and the reader is often left with a parody of some past story, character, concept or event. Post-modern writers made use of Romantic irony, pastiche and the act of blurring the lines between high and low culture with a combination of subjects and genres not previously deemed fit for literature.
It is highly debated whether or not Postmodernism has ended, but it is estimated to be have occurred from the 1940’s to the present.
Exclusives.co.za counts down the top 10 post-modern novels for a new parody.
10. The Cannibal by John Hawkes, 1949
“No synopsis conveys the quality of this now famous novel about an hallucinated Germany in collapse after World War II. John Hawkes, in his search for a means to transcend outworn modes of fictional realism, has discovered a a highly original technique for objectifying the perennial degradation of mankind within a context of fantasy…. Nowhere has the nightmare of human terror and the deracinated sensibility been more consciously analyzed than in The Cannibal. Yet one is aware throughout that such analysis proceeds only in terms of a resolutely committed humanism.” ––Hayden Carruth
9. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, 1961
Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never even met keep trying to kill him.
8. Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth, 1968
7. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic “Slaughterhouse-Five” introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
6. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, 1973
Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then (as Thomas Pynchon puts it in his sinister, insinuatingly sibilant opening sentence), “a screaming comes across the sky,” heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. The novel’s title, “Gravity’s Rainbow”, refers to the rocket’s vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolize his promise never to destroy humanity again.
5. White Noise by Don DeLillo, 1985
Jack Gladney is the creator and chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. This is the story of his absurd life; a life that is going well enough, until a chemical spill from a rail car releases an ‘Airborne Toxic Event’ and Jack is forced to confront his biggest fear: His own mortality.
4. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which earned its author a death sentence. Furor aside, it is a marvelously erudite study of good and evil, a feast of language served up by a writer at the height of his powers, and a rollicking comic fable.
3.The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, 1980
The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where extraordinary things are happening under the cover of night.
2.The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson, 1969
A sports journalist, sent to a Midlands town on a weekly assignment, finds himself confronted by ghosts from the past when he disembarks at the railway station. Memories of one of his best, most trusted friends, a tragically young victim of cancer, begin to flood through his mind as he attempts to go about the routine business of reporting a football match. B. S. Johnson’s famous ‘book in a box’, in which the chapters are presented unbound, to be read in any order the reader chooses, is one of the key works of a novelist now undergoing an enormous revival of interest.
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 2007
‘Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.’ Pipes and kettledrums herald the arrival of gypsies on their annual visit to Macondo, the newly founded village where Jose Arcadio Buendia and his strong-willed wife, Ursula, have started their new life. As the mysterious Melquiades excites Aureliano Buendia’s father with new inventions and tales of adventure, neither can know the significance of the indecipherable manuscript that the old gypsy passes into their hands. Through plagues of insomnia, civil war, hauntings and vendettas, the many tribulations of the Buendia household push memories of the manuscript aside. Few remember its existence and only one will discover the hidden message that it holds…