This week, we read an article over at the Guardian calling for the “retirement” of the campus novel, citing its apparent rite-of-passage status and prevalence, but sniffing, “the standard of the campus club’s productions, however, increasingly makes you wonder why they bother.” Well, we disagree. We love campus novels, and though the classics – Lucky Jim, Pnin — hold extra-special places in the bookshelf of our heart, we think contemporary versions are continuing the tradition in fine form. To prove our point, we’ve selected ten of our favorites, written in the last 20-odd years (our cutoff is 1990), that prove the genre is still relevant. Page through our picks after the jump, and let us know what you think of the modern campus novel in the comments.
The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
Harbach’s 2011 debut is a meaty, satisfying novel of school and sports — but really, it’s a book about relationships, sea change, dearly held fantasies and hard realities. You will bring this novel everywhere, read it under the table and walking down the street until you’re done.