DIRTY AMERICA: READING CHARLES BUKOWSKI'S SELECTED FICTION
Authors: MUBASHIR KARIM
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It won’t be an understatement to claim that American Literature reached its fruition in the post-war era.
After the two wars, the range of themes in American literature, particularly fiction, showed a significant increase.
The writers not only criticized the political and economic atmosphere of the country, but were painfully aware of the
disturbing issues like racism and gender inequality. While the fiction of postwar America is usually replete with the
names of literary giants like like Don Delilah, Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon, William Burroughs, John Barth,
Vladimir Nabokov, Toni Morrison, Joseph Heller, the one writer whose work is equally commendable but rather
ignored or shooed away by the ‘mainstream literary groups’ is Charles Bukowski. While Bukowski is usually
remembered as a poet, his fictional meanderings within the American landscapes provide the readers with a view of
America hasn't predominantly found in any writer of his time. Bukowski fiction, through the image of his alter-ego
character, shows the real underbelly of American life. With the incorporation of drug addicts, whores, thieves, menial
jobs and an unhinged desperation to live the day, Bukowski not only enlarges the space of the novel, but also extends
the scope for readers to look closely at the American life once the orgy of war is over. My paper tries to look at this and
other themes like anxiety, paranoia, and loneliness among other through the novels of Charles Bukowski. It also tries to
interrogate whether the term ‘Dirty Realism’, often associated with Bukowski, is an adequate term to refer to the flux of
themes that bus. kowski presents through his fiction.