Thursday, May 26, 2011

Top 10 outsiders' stories

Stephen Kelman grew up in the housing projects of Luton. He's worked variously as a careworker, a warehouse operative, and in marketing and local government administration.

Pigeon English, his first novel, will be available in the U.S. in July.
[T]he outsider [Kelman writes]... is an endlessly fascinating creature: he can be a benign commentator on his adoptive society, or a harsh critic; he can be the underdog or the agitator; his fish-out-of-water status can lend itself equally to comedy and tragedy. The entire spectrum of human experience can be captured within his detached or awed gaze. For both reader and writer, the outsider is an instrument that allows us to see the world in an unfamiliar way, and that for me is one of the prime aspirations of literature.
One of Kelman's top ten outsiders' books, as told to the Guardian:
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The outsider as sagacious misfit, ridiculous pundit on the society he rejects and which rejects him, inflated monster of misdirected fury. Ignatius J Reilly still lives with his mother. He has questionable dress sense and a lackadaisical approach to personal hygiene. And the outsider's unwavering certainty that he is right and it's the rest of the world that needs to catch up to him. Hilarious and wretched, Ignatius is a skewed eye on a society that produces people like him with alarming frequency.
Read about another title on the list.

A Confederacy of Dunces is among John Mullan's ten best moustaches in literature, Michael Lewis's five favorite books, and Cracked magazine's classic funny novels.

Also see: Neil Griffiths's top 10 books about outsiders.

--Marshal Zeringue