The first decades of the twenty-first century have witnessed the publication of several works of fiction that, though marketed as novels, wear that label rather uneasily. These works are highly fragmented texts, made up of separate textual units – short stories, novellas, sketches, textual fragments, or a mixture of these – which become progressively more integrated as the novels unfold. In their juxtaposition of different characters, voices, and lives, these books depart from the single-protagonistdriven plot of the traditional novel, especially as the characters do not share the usual novelistic ties of family, love, or friendship. Instead, they are connected through a common setting or shared history or are brought together through an accident or coincidence. In this way, these novels participate in the larger cultural debate about forms of human connectivity at a time when the limitations of high individualism have come into focus while state formations, ideology, and personal identity no longer appear as determinative as they did in the latter decades of the twentieth century. A brief description of some representative examples will help to elucidate the thematic and formal characteristics of these novels.
from D’hoker, E. (2018). A Continuum of Fragmentation: Distinguishing the Short Story Cycle from the Composite Novel.