The Otherworlds of Liz Jensen

The Otherworlds of Liz Jensen

A Critical Reading

Helen E. Mundler


Camden House



The first study of one of the most innovative of contemporary novelists, Liz Jensen, and of the "otherworlds" in her fiction.

Liz Jensen, a British author of eight novels, is among today's most innovative writers. Her literary thrillers occupy the terrain between realism and science fiction. This first study of Jensen centers on the very diverse "otherworlds" she creates in each of her novels, which can consist of an indeterminate space of ontological instability, a zone in which real and unreal converge to destabilize the realist text, as in Egg Dancing (1995) and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax (2004). In other novels the otherworld relies on defamiliarization: thus in War Crimes for the Home (2002) the experience of war is transformed by being seen from a woman's perspective. In still other cases, the otherworld spans the novel's entire topos, as in The Paper Eater (2000), the full-blown utopia at the center of Jensen's oeuvre.
Jensen's work approaches contemporary social issues such as religious fundamentalism, ecological disaster, and assisted procreation. Simultaneously, it displays a number of characteristics of erudite fiction, including self-reflexivity, inter- and intratextual reference, parody, pastiche, and burlesque. Notwithstanding the "popular" elements of Jensen's work, Helen E. Mundler's study adopts a rigorously academic approach to it, referencing canonical works but also more innovative texts, particularly by contemporary women writers, as points of comparison.

Helen E. Mundler is Senior Lecturer in English Studies at UPEC (Université Paris-Est Créteil) with a research affiliation at the Université Paris-X Nanterre-La Défense.


244 pages
9x6 in
Studies in English and American Literature and Culture
Hardback, 9781571139627, September 2016
eBook, 9781782048268, September 2016
Camden House
BISAC LIT004120, LIT004290
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Table of Contents

Egg Dancing: Paving the Way for Otherworlds in Time and Space
Ark Baby and the Return to the Nineteenth Century
Island Life: The Pure "Ustopia" of The Paper Eater/
Liz Jensen's Murder Mysteries
From Family Romance to the Detective Novel
New Rules, New Otherworlds: Jensen's "Third Wave"
Ecofiction, Rapture Fiction
The Uninvited: The Most Radically "Other" World to Date


[O]ne gets a very precise picture of Jensen's oeuvre with its distinct thematic and ethical continuity . . . . Mundler's study . . . should interest not only amateurs of Jensen's fiction but also scholars or students concerned with the evolution of the contemporary British novel in general. [It] show[s] the coherence and diversity of a novelistic work whose importance and impact on the global literary scene can only expand. Here the critic is at the service of the novelist and this critical stance enhances both the writer and the scholar. CERCLES

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