Adventurous, engaging and politically urgent, contemporary American novels have come to enjoy a particular prestige and, through university courses, film adaptations and cultural controversies, a global circulation. This book provides a critical introduction to novels produced in the United States between 1980 and the present. Compact yet wide-ranging, and written in vivid, accessible prose, it registers the diversity of contemporary American fiction and carefully situates this work in historical contexts that include Reaganomics, the Clinton years and the post-9/11 War on Terror. Detailed attention is given throughout to how Americas current novelists have responded to shifting gender politics, changes in the nations racial configuration, the increasing dominance of a commodity culture and to adjustments in the United States place in the world following the end of the Cold War and the increased pace of globalisation. Complete with detailed lists of secondary sources both in print and on the web, and suggestions for students own research projects, this is the ideal resource for anyone beginning study of this vibrant literature.