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What is contemporary world literature?

Contemporary literature is fiction and poetry written after 1946. It is the more modernized
literature that you read today. It is literature with its setting generally after World War II.
The term contemporary literature refers to a vast group of written works produced from a
specific time in history through the current age. This literary era defines a time period, but it also
describes a particular style and quality of writing. Some see this period as an extension of
postmodern literature, but most refer to it as a literary era of its own.
Most agree that the era of contemporary literature began in the 1960s. A few scholars claim this
period started at the end of World War II, and this is where the pairing with postmodern
literature comes in. The postmodern era began after WWII, in the 1940s, and lasted through the
1960s. The contemporary literature period extends to the current day.

Short Stories
“House Taken Over”
Julio Cortazar
The house was old and spacious with the memories of their great-grandparents and their
childhood. Irene is the narrator’s sister. They clean the house everyday and they both have
certain parts that they clean in the house. They did the cleaning at 7 a.m. Neither of them had
married because they saw no need for it since they were happy just living with each other. Irene
always knits after she’s done cleaning. The narrator always reads books to pass time by after he
is done cleaning. The house was separated by a big massive oak door. One night the narrator
went to the kitchen and heard noises coming through the other side of the oak door. He locked
the door and moved to the other side of the door to those rooms and never went back to the other
side of the door. The noises kept getting closer and closer to their bedrooms and they couldn’t
sleep. The noises kept getting closer and closer until they ran out of the house and never came
back. They locked the house and threw the key down the drain so nobody else would go in the
house. Irene and the narrator were both scared of the noises that were in the house and that is
why they ran away. People can go through things that will mess with their minds and don’t know
what to do, so they ran away from their fears and don’t ever look back.
“Marriage is a Private Affair”
Chinua Achebe
The story is about a discussion between a young woman named Nene and Nnaemeka. They live
in Lagos, Nigeria; they are in love and want to get married. Nene wants Nnaemeka to tell his
father. He is nervous and his father is a member of the Ibo tribe who lives to rural Nigeria.
Nnaemeke is afraid that he won’t approve because Nene is not in culture. The father receives a
letter from Nnaemeke begging him to accept a visit from her son and two grandsons. She will
stay away in the city if he will only let the grandsons come visit him.
"The Jay"

Yasunari Kawahata

The story is about a girl named Yoshiko and her brother and they live with their blind
grandmother. Yoshiko has to go through with an arranged marriage. From mid 1800s until the
end of World War II were common in Japanese society. Marital partners were chosen by one's
parents and even relatives. Yoshiko's father failed his arranged marriage with their mother and
she is with another man. Yoshiko looks back at her father's past with her mother and is afraid
that the marriage will become broken. In the beginning Yoshiko's grandmother is suffering from
cataracts, but there is always this jay around her garden and it's like she can see it in her mind
and give a complete description of the bird. Yoshiko is amazed by her grandmother's abilities.
Her grandmother can sense her worrying about the marriage and her grandmother believes that
this is the right man for her. Her grandmother ends up being right all along which brings Yoshiko
happiness.
Poems
“The Diameter of the Bomb”
Yehuda Amichai
The bomb killed four people and left eleven wounded. This left pain to people in the whole
world because since a girl died at this bombing but was buried in her hometown of more than a
hundred kilometers away. A guy was mourning over this girl from across the sea, which makes
the circle of people this bomb affected would be the whole world. It’s saying that just because
something happens in one part of the world does not mean it does not affect other parts of the
world. It affects everybody when something happens in the world. It does not have to be a big
affect, it can be as small as one person being sad because what happened to another person
across the ocean.
“When in Early Summer”
Nelly Sachs
She was brought up in Germany and her work is mainly concerned with the holocaust and Nazi
persecution. The line, “But in dreams” tells that this is a dream, and life is not a dream. She had
severe metal problem. The second verse is questioning the ways of the world. Children could be
used as an expression of innocence rather than childhood. The terror abyss means the Nazi
actions. The Rotten apple means the world as a place of decayed values. The sun and moon more
appear like removed from their symbolism of life providers. Their life providing natures are
crossed of focus powerless to intervene in the horrors of earth. In my perspective, the first verse
means it’s more about life and how you pick the path.
"Assembly Line"
Shu Ting
When the factory shift ends night presses on and people go home. There is assembly line of stars
stretching across the sky. The little trees are like us standing still numb. The stars must be tired
of their journeys doing the same exact over and over for many years. The trees must be
exhausted as well choked on smog and the tedious sameness, stripped of their color and shape.
It's not hard to feel the same way because we are going through the same issues. The person is
saying he/she feels the same way as the stars and trees numb but the person has no concern for
their fate because that's what he/she has to do all their life to keep going.

Contemporary Works
 The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell (Poem)
 A Noiseless Flash from Hiroshima written by John Hersey (Novel)

 Speaking of Courage by Tim O'Brien (Novel)


 The Amazing Adventures of K aval i er y and C l a y by Mi cha el C habon
(Novel )
 The Angel with Broken Wing by Dan a Gi oi a (P oem )
 The Apple Orchard by D ana Gi oi a (P oem )
 The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by D ana Gi oi a (P oem )
 Majority by D ana G i oi a (P oem )
 Pity the Beautiful by Dana Gi oi a (P o em )
 The Gard en Tr an sl at i on b y C ol i n R orri son (P oem )
R oom m at es by Li nda Heuri n g (S h ort S t or y)
 Mone y b y Dana Gi oi a (P oem )
 The Nex t P oem by D ana Gi oi a (P oem )
 The Lot t er y b y S hi rl e y J ackson (S hor t S t or y)
 A Good Man i s Hard t o Fi nd b y Fl a nner y O 'C onnor (S h ort S t or y)
 Goi ng t o Me et t he Man b y J am es Bal dwi n (S hort S t or y)

Famous Authors
 S am Ham od
 In es Abassi
 Mahnaz Badi hi an
 Im en B ennani
 Beau Boud reaux
 Marc C arv er
 Anna L. C at es
 Brandon C esm at
 Don Mee C hoi
 Ol ga Gar ci a
 Veroni ca Gol os
 Kat e Ha rdi n g
 S am uel Haz o
 Ori ana Iv y
 Eve Lyo ns
 J ack Marshal l
 J anet McAdam s