Discover Literacy's latest trend: Millennial Fiction

This month, we had the privilege of publishing Itua Uduebo’s debut novel, Parade of Streetlights, a new title in the ever-growing genre of millennial fiction. If you’re still new to this literary phenomenon, no worries, Furious Readers! We’ve got you covered.

What is millennial fiction?

Millennial fiction is extremely self-aware. The protagonists are usually searching for something outside of standard “adult” expectations. Often, their search finds them looking for meaningful relationships, trying to participate in meaningful work, and/or trying to unpack what it means to live a fulfilled, successful life. Millennial fiction also focuses on cultural consumption and nestles itself snugly into the zeitgeist: financial and economic crises, pandemics, post 9/11 security, technology, hustle culture, and self-defining labels, often culminating into the good old “imposter syndrome” conversation. Millennial fiction protagonists are usually in their own heads and many times the books become, as the Guardian so aptly describes them, “darkly funny, desperate and full of rage.”

How does Parade of Streetlights fit into this genre?

Kola, the protagonist, fits the age for a millennia (a definite must) and struggles with many of the same issues that all millennials, real or imagined, struggle with in their daily lives. Following a traumatic childhood incident in Lagos, Kola tries to move past it by living the perfect adult life - the great job, the NYC lifestyle, the friends, the social life - but still struggles to find true meaning and purpose. Taking place over the course of a year, the novel is told in vignettes, highlighting these moments of joy, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, cultural nuances, and love of all kinds - with your crew, your significant other, yourself, and all of life’s possibilities.

There are also moments of financial anxiety, familial expectations, and adulting - all of which make Kola the perfect voice for millennial fiction. In an interview with Black Writers Read, Itua Uduebo explains how and why his novel is considered millennial fiction. It’s a great listen and we highly recommend staying awhile to listen to host Nicole M. Young-Martin chat with other talented black authors.

I can’t even - is it millennial or Millennial?

Another great question and one that we’re guilty of googling from time to time. According to MLA and AP style guides, “millennial” and “baby boomer” are left uncapitalized while generational names that include letters - Gen X or Gen Z - are capitalized. Of course, in this case, Gen Y would also be capitalized, which is another name for millennials, so….in conclusion, do whatever makes you happy. Grammar is a social construct anyway.

Why should I read millennial fiction?

Why not? It’s a chance to experience a new world and many of the books and authors in this category are extremely talented and creative. Their books provide an interesting commentary on work, life, success, experience, and relationships regardless of age.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve created a reading list filled with some of our favorites, including Parade of Streetlights.

When Sally Rooney first entered the scene, everyone rushed to label her books as the definitive marker for millennial fiction. We respectfully disagree; there are many different sides to this experience and choosing one person as the sole representation doesn’t provide a full view of the genre. BookRiot has provided a few of their favorites of the millennial novels, including our personal millennial darling, Severance by Ling Ma.

(Also, could I be a millennial?)

As for who is or isn’t a millennial, that’s even more convoluted. The years fluctuate, but ones that we see the most range from 1981-1996, making millennials 27-42 years old, sparking another debate between old and young millennials, which sparks another debate if generational age gaps are too vague. It seems everyone is exhausted because Pew Research Center reported that they would “take a step back” in how they report on generations since there are so many differing factors.

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