Narrative Truthiness


Narrative Truthiness

The Logic of Complex Truth in Hybrid (Non)Fiction

Annjeanette Wiese

Frontiers of Narrative Series

266 pages
6 illustrations, index


October 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Narrative Truthiness explores the complex nature of truth by adapting Stephen Colbert’s concept of truthiness (which on its own repudiates complexity) into something nuanced and positive, what Annjeanette Wiese calls “narrative truthiness.” Narrative truthiness holds on to the importance of facts while complicating them by looking at different types of truth, as well as the complexity, contradictions, and consequences of truth in the context of human experience.

Wiese uses narrative theory to analyze several examples of hybrid (non)fiction: works that refuse to exist as either fiction or nonfiction alone and that challenge monolithic definitions of truth. She examines memoirs by Lauren Slater, Michael Ondaatje, Binjamin Wilkomirski, Tim O’Brien; fiction by Julian Barnes, Richard Powers, W. G. Sebald; Onion headlines; comics and graphic memoirs by Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, and David Small; and fake news.

Narrative Truthiness foregrounds the complexity that is inherent in human understanding and experience and in the process demonstrates the significance of the complex tensions between what we feel to be true and what is true, and how we are shaped by both.

Author Bio

Annjeanette Wiese is an instructor of humanities and is the director of undergraduate studies for the humanities program at the University of Colorado Boulder. 


“Beautifully written, Narrative Truthiness takes the reader on a trip through lies, hoaxes, satire, the search for origins, the fabrication of memories, the construction of the verisimilar, and—through all these narrative modes and themes—the quest for authenticity. Wiese makes a powerful plea in favor of a literary conception of truth that acknowledges the complexity of truth and does not limit it to the accurate presentation of facts, without, however, rejecting any kind of factuality.”—Marie-Laure Ryan, coeditor of Possible Worlds Theory and Contemporary Narratology

Narrative Truthiness provides a new window into thinking about the interactions between fact and fiction, and how we need one to understand the other, through a focus on texts that straddle the line between representative and fictional narrative. It is well researched and theoretically sophisticated.”—Marjorie Worthington, author of The Story of “Me”: Contemporary American Autofiction

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Narrative Truthiness and Hybrid (Non)Fiction
Part 1. Autobiography and Memoir
1. Telling What Is True: Truthiness and Figural Truths in Lauren Slater’s Writing
2. In Pursuit of Truth in Life Narrative: Reading Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family
3. Narrative Truthiness and the Author-Reader Contract: The Failure of Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Memoir Fragments
Part 2. Fiction
4. Impossible Biographies: Theory and (Non)Fiction in Julian Barnes’s Flaubert’s Parrot
5. Narrative Truthiness, Connectivity, and Factuality in Fiction: The Case of Richard Powers’s Three Farmers
6. Lost (in) History: Fact and Fiction in W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz
Part 3. Other Genres and Media
7. Satire and Truth: Fake News, the Onion, and the Complex Nature of Narrative Truthiness
8. Conflicting Categories: Graphic Narratives and the Image of Truth
Conclusion: An Argument for Narrative Truthiness—Tim O’Brien and Using Complex Narrative to Counter Fake News

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