Leslie Pietrzyk wonders why readers are so eager to assume that a fictional story happened in real life. She asks, “Why is that always the question fiction writers are asked? Why do readers insist on knowing if the story that held them enthralled was ‘real’?”
The diary novel may be “an under-attended” genre, but Johannah King-Slutzky is trying to remedy that. In an essay for The Hairpin she traces the diary novel’s history from the Victorian era to Go Ask Alice while examining the genre’s balance of “melodrama and awkward moralizing” with the potential for subversion.
“What knits together the families of Roth’s Newark are adults—some foreign-born but many the children of immigrants—who either experienced the insecurity and deprivation of the Old World themselves or heard stories about it from their own parents. What they want most is to find stability in a neighborhood, in a city, and in a country that offers them the chance at security for their families.” On Philip Roth and Newark, NJ.