Fabulism & New Weird Literature

Fabulism, also called New Weird, tends to defy any direct definition. In essence, Fabulism or Fabulist Fiction or New Weird is the literary act of defying any genre constraint. The terms have their Fairytale and Horror roots, and yet the genre—or lack of genre—continues to cause confusion when someone uses it to describe a story. Perhaps the most general of definitions would be, Where literature gets weird. But if that is the case, then this sort of writing has always been with us, from Dante Alighieri to Jonathan Swift to Lewis Carroll to Edgar Allan Poe to Franz Kafka to Shirley Jackson to Carlos Castaneda (yes, his works are indeed fiction, despite what he and his publisher claim), and beyond.

Fabulism and New Weird can be somewhat defined as narrative that contains elements of the Latin socio-fiction known as Magical Realism, Slipstream, classic Science Fiction, Horror, Suburban Nostalgia, and other forms of Speculative Fiction. The best narratives tend to blur the lines between one or more of these influences, and at the center there lies a pervading mystery often never explained. Readers are attracted to a story because they want to know why the writer wrote it—who has more often than not penned the narrative to let it speak for itself.

So if we have always had Fabulism and New Weird literature, what makes the works written between the 1980s and today any different than what we are used to? Simply put, the new is weirder than the weird we have come to accept over the last two centuries, exploring such philosophical concepts as shamanism both actual and imagined, Kierkegaardian as well as Sartrean existentialism, the loss and/or regaining of moral ethics, the anamnesis of God/Love, nihilistic and deconstructive meaninglessness, transgression towards an evasive freedom, and divine judgment leading to purging and salvation or to utter separation from Life.

The Fabulism/New Weird approach to literature defies genre by nature; it is rebellious and individualistic; it is strange, peculiar, uncanny, unique, weird, mystifying, and full of magic, dread, wonder and, in some cases, gratitude filled with the hope of glory.