Understanding Diane Johnson
Understanding Diane Johnson is a biographical and critical study of a quintessential American novelist who has devoted forty-five years to writing about French and American culture. Johnson, who was nominated for the National Book Award three times and the Pulitzer Prize twice, has been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books since the 1970s and is the author of more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction volumes. Carolyn A. Durham explores Johnson's fiction and nonfiction works, emphasizing that setting is key to the construction of Johnson's literary world, a theme displayed throughout her eleven novels. Johnson is well known as a comic novelist who addresses serious social problems. Durham outlines Johnson's continued exploration of women's lives and her experimentation with varied forms of narrative technique and genre parody in the detective novels The Shadow Knows and Lying Low, both award-winning novels. Durham examines Johnson's reinvention of the international novel of manners-inherited from Henry James and Edith Wharton-in her best-selling Franco-American trilogy: Le Divorce, Le Mariage, and L'Affaire. As the first book-length study of this distinguished American writer, Understanding Diane Johnson surveys an extensive body of work and draws critical attention to a well-published, widely read author who was the winner of the California Book Awards Gold Medal for Fiction in 1997.
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