form of fictionalized autobiography
In literary criticism, autofiction is a form of fictionalized autobiography.
Serge Doubrovsky coined the term in 1977 with reference to his novel Fils. Philippe Vilain distinguishes autofiction from autobiographical novels in that autofiction requires a first-person narrative by a protagonist who has the same name as the author. Elizabeth Hardwick's novel Sleepless Nights and Chris Kraus's I Love Dick have been deemed early seminal works popularizing the form of autofiction. The genre is associated with autobiographical novels by both women and queer authors. Critics and journalists have polarizing views on the genre.
In India, autofiction has been associated with the works of Hainsia Olindi and postmodern Tamil writer Charu Nivedita. His novel Zero Degree, a groundbreaking work in Tamil literature and his recent Novel Marginal Man are examples of this genre. In Urdu the fiction novels of Rahman Abbas are considered major work of autofiction, especially his two novels Nakhalistan Ki Talash (Search of an Oasis) and Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Ankh Micholi (Hide and Seek in the Shadow of God). Japanese author Hitomi Kanehara wrote a novel titled Autofiction.
Autofiction combines two mutually inconsistent narrative forms, namely autobiography and fiction. An author may decide to recount their life in the third person, to modify significant details and characters, using fictive subplots and imagined scenarios with real life characters in the service of a search for self. In this way, autofiction shares similarities with the Bildungsroman as well as the New Narrative movement and has parallels with faction, a genre devised by Truman Capote to describe his novel In Cold Blood.
Autofiction is a genre of postmodern literature which includes New Narrative, Magical Realism (pejoratively called Hysterical Realism by critic James Wood), and Deflationary Realism, amongst others.
In a 2018 article for New York Magazine's "Vulture", literary critic Christian Lorentzen wrote, "The term autofiction has been in vogue for the past decade to describe a wave of very good American novels by the likes of Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner, Teju Cole, Jenny Offill, and Tao Lin, among others, as well as the multivolume epic My Struggle by the Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard." He elaborated: "The way the term is used tends to be unstable, which makes sense for a genre that blends fiction and what may appear to be fact into an unstable compound. In the past, I've tried to make a distinction in my own use of the term between autobiographical fiction, autobiographical metafiction, and autofiction, arguing that in autofiction there tends to be emphasis on the narrator's or protagonist's or authorial alter ego's status as a writer or artist and that the book’s creation is inscribed in the book itself."
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