Experimental Literature In The 21st Century
April 20, 2018
David Mitchell – The Right Sort
“Valium brightens colours a bit. Reds are bloodier, blues go glassy, yellows sort of sing and greens pull you under like quicksand.”
David Mitchell, the award-winning writer of Cloud Atlas decided to embrace new technology and released an entire short story on Twitter. Surprisingly, Mitchell doesn’t use Twitter often as he values his privacy. So what motivated him to release not just a few lines but an entire short story on the micro-blogging platform? The answer is simple, the medium supported the way he wanted to tell his story.
Interestingly, Mitchell isn’t the only author to have used Twitter as a medium to release a book. Award-winning authors such as Jennifer Egan and Philipa Gregory have incorporated Twitter as a storytelling tool for their books.
Austin Kleon – Newspaper Blackout
“No one is going to rescue us but us.”
-Austin Kleon, Hope (2017)
Not many people would think of converting their morning newspaper into a poem or using it to tell stories. But writer Austin Kleon recognised the potential that newspapers bring with their many words, quite literally, to create stories. He ‘wrote’ a book, a collection of poems if you will, with stories created by blacking out most words in a given newspaper article. Kleon refers to himself as a ‘writer with a design sensibility’. Initially, he released a few poems on his blog, and after he gained some fame, Harper Collins approached him to release them as a poetry book. Had Kleon not had a popular blog, it is unlikely that Harper Collins would have paid his work any attention, and it is quite possible that Kleon’s brilliant work would remain obscure.
Rupi Kaur – milk and honey
loneliness is a sign
you are in desperate
need of yourself |
Rupi Kaur came into the limelight around 2014 and made a smashing debut appearance at Jaipur Literature Festival in 2018. Paraphrasing her words, she realised she had a talent that the word needed to know, but publishers did not seem to think so. She took matters into her own hands and started showcasing her poetry through Instagram, and went on to become the world’s first famous ‘instapoet’. As of April 2018, she has over 2.5 million followers on Instagram and many young women around the world see her as an inspiration- as someone who can tackle matters such as menstruation, sex, self-identity, and race through beautifully crafted, and accessible words. Her debut novel, milk and honey (intentionally in small case as a homage to her ancestral language, Gurmukhi), has sold over a million copies.
Rupi Kaur’s story is inspiring, and it shows that in today’s technologically- advanced world, powerful and interesting poetry doesn’t need the traditional publisher or middleman to gain literary fame.
Neil Gaiman – A Calendar Of Tales
What is the weirdest gift you’ve ever been given in May?
An anonymous Mother’s Day gift. Think about that for a moment.
In February 2013, Gaiman decided to incorporate readers into the writing process of his new book – A Calendar of Tales. In collaboration with Blackberry, Gaiman released 12 prompts on Twitter, each prompt related to a month. The questions covered a wide range of subjects- from deep topics such as happiness and loss, to more fun ones like strange events people had witnessed and mythical creatures they’d like to meet. Gaiman chose 12 winning entries and wrote a short story around each one. Once the stories were written, he invited illustrators to send artwork based on the stories and chose 12 winning pieces of art to accompany the respective story. Each illustration was unique and followed a different style, thereby making the collection of short stories even more interesting to read.