Ben Lerner and the Novel in the Age of Digital Media

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  • Title: Ben Lerner and the Novel in the Age of Digital Media
  • Author(s): Denise Rose Hansen
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Book
  • Keywords: Contemporary Fiction, Avant-garde Fiction, Temporality, Digital Media, American Fiction, Mediality
  • Volume: 15
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 1447-9516 (Print)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1447-9516/CGP/v15i03/11-21
  • Citation: Hansen, Denise Rose. 2017. "Ben Lerner and the Novel in the Age of Digital Media." The International Journal of the Book 15 (3): 11-21. doi:10.18848/1447-9516/CGP/v15i03/11-21.
  • Extent: 11 pages

Abstract

The novel as a technology is changing in the age of digital media. This article explores how Ben Lerner in 10:04 (2014) problematises the twenty-first-century novel as a self-reflective technology that is highly aware of, and reactive to, the digital media environment it inhabits. This move is not Lerner’s alone, but it is representative of much avant-garde fiction of the 2010s, fiction for which the tag “postmodern” is anachronistic and unmeaning. Authors like Ali Smith, Tom McCarthy, Teju Cole, Alejandro Zambra, and Enrique Vila-Matas have, in recent works, interrogated the novel as the technology it is and do so in a digital media light, sometimes explicitly and narratively, sometimes formally and stylistically. In the article at hand, I wish to serve an example of such a “new novel” with Lerner’s 10:04 as my case in point. I explore how 10:04 makes sense of the past, present, and future through media and how this breathes new life into the novel form and leads it in an avant-garde direction, where the multimodal and narrative texture of the novel is more important than plot, as the former is more readily able to communicate the essence and texture of contemporary life.