What is the time period or literary era of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and why is it important?

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, first published in 2008, would be considered a piece of contemporary literature.  As the literary era in which we currently live, it is difficult to fully define the characteristics of books written in this time, but I think it is arguable that Edgar Sawtelle has been hailed and critically honored because of a few things it does particularly well as a modern piece of writing.

First, it reads as though it could be largely autobiographical.  The author himself has written directly from his own childhood experience of living on a farm in Wisconsin where his mother took to raising dogs.  As a result, the story is believable, though still regarded as fiction.

Another characteristic that has been linked to contemporary literature, is the idea of inter- and intra- personal relationships.  Basically, how do the characters discover truths about themselves through the way they interact with others.  Certainly, Edgar Sawtelle is a character who has much to discover about himself, and his communication impairment makes his journey even more interesting.  In addition to his interactions with his mother, father, father's ghost, and others, we get to see Edgar mature through his relationship with his dogs.

Finally, this story draws on couple of the characteristics of great books from other literary eras.  In many ways, it could be considered an epic journey that leads Edgar to the truth behind his father's death, and more importantly, the mystery of his grandfather's dogs.  Many have also linked this novel to Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Though the comparison is not literal, there are many points of similarity which cause readers and critics alike to take Wroblewski's modern novel more seriously than a work of simple entertainment.

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