From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Absurdist fiction is a genre of fiction, drama or poetry that centers on the behavior of absurd characters, situations or subjects. While a great deal of absurdist fiction is humorous in nature, the hallmark of the genre is not humor, but rather the study of human behavior under circumstances that are highly unusual. Absurdist fiction posits little judgement about characters or their actions; that task is left to the reader.
Unlike many other forms of literature, absurdist works will not necessarily have a traditional plot structure (ie rising action, climax, falling action). Similarly, the "moral" of the story is generally not explicit, and the characters are often ambiguous in nature.
Due to its non-conformist nature, many readers struggle with Absurdism when they are first exposed to it. Indeed, it would be accurate to describe absurdism and absurdist fiction as an "acquired taste." Conversely, this genre is a favorite among scholars because it lends itself so well to interpretation, discussion, and debate.
- Franz Kafka - The Metamorphosis (1915), The Trial (1925)
- Svetoslav Minkov - The Lady With the X-Ray Eyes (1934)
- Albert Camus - The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), The Fall (1956)
- Eugène Ionesco - The Bald Soprano (1950), Rhinoceros (1959)
- Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot (1952)
- Harold Pinter - The Birthday Party (1958)
- Edward Albee - The American Dream (1961)
- Joseph Heller - Catch-22 (1961)
- Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's Cradle (1963)
- Tom Stoppard - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1966)
- Luke Rhinehart - The Dice Man (1971)
- Tom Robbins - Still Life with Woodpecker (1980)
- Patrick Süskind - Perfume (1985)
- Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy (1989)
- Lemony Snicket - A Series of Unfortunate Events (1999 - 2006)
- Gregory Burke - Gagarin Way (2001)
- M. John Harrison - Light (2002)
- Ray Fracalossy - Tales From the Vinegar Wasteland (2006)
- Gary Shteyngart - Absurdistan (2006)
- Rhys Hughes - The Postmodern Mariner (2008)