Music in Contemporary American Fiction

Music is an art that has been used in various forms of literature to express and evoke emotions, set a tone, or create a specific atmosphere. Music in contemporary American fiction plays an important role in the development of characters and themes. In this essay, I will explore the use of music in contemporary American fiction and its impact on the reader.

Contemporary American Fiction

Contemporary American fiction is characterized by its diversity, ranging from stories of individual struggles to tales of societal issues. Music has become a common motif in contemporary fiction, used to add depth to the narrative and convey the message of the author.

For example, in the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, music is used to symbolize the excess and indulgence of the roaring twenties. The parties hosted by the wealthy characters in the novel are filled with jazz music, which is associated with liberation and hedonism.

Similarly, music is used to create a sense of nostalgia and longing in contemporary American fiction. For instance, in the novel “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides, the character Lux listens to “Heart of Glass” by Blondie while reminiscing about her past. The song represents her desire to escape her mundane life and live a life of excitement and adventure.

Music is also used in contemporary American fiction to explore the complexities of identity and culture. In the novel “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith, music plays a central role in the lives of the characters, who come from different cultural backgrounds. The characters use music as a way to connect with their heritage and as a means of self-expression.

In addition, music is often used in contemporary American fiction to create a sense of place and time. For example, in the novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz, music is used to set the tone for the story, which takes place in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey. The use of bachata music creates a sense of place and helps the reader understand the cultural background of the characters.


Music is an integral part of contemporary American fiction. It is used to add depth to the narrative, convey emotions, and create a sense of place and time. Music in contemporary American fiction explores various themes, including identity, culture, and societal issues. It adds another dimension to the story and provides a powerful tool for the author to convey their message to the reader.

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