Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

The Pigman is widely acknowledged as a turning point in young adult literature. According to Jack Davis Forman in Presenting Paul Zindel, Zindel's "commitment to write realistically about the concerns of teenagers" set his books apart from "the previous genre of teen fiction calcified in the gender and age stereotypes of the 1950s." Forman quoted Kenneth Donelson and Alleen Nilssen, whose survey, Literature for Today's Young Adults, noted that The Pigman "established a new type of adolescent fiction in which teenagers dealing with interpersonal or societal problems were depicted with candor and seriousness."

As Forman noted, previous books had portrayed teenagers as adults wished they were, or thought they should be, and were "pedestrian, predictable, and formulaic." Zindel was one of the first writers to show teenagers from a teenage point of view, unfiltered by adult notions of right, wrong, or what their behavior should be. According to Forman, a reviewer in Horn Book called The Pigman "a now book," and commented that few books were "as cruelly truthful about the human condition." Forman also noted that a New York Times reviewer wrote that the book had "the right combination of the preposterous and the sensible," but commented that Zindel's overt explanation of the book's "moral" was patronizing to readers. Forman also quoted Publishers Weekly reviewer Lavinia Russ, who remarked on her...

(The entire section is 410 words.)