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Autofiction is, in literary criticism, a form of fictionalized autobiography.


In autofiction, an author may decide to recount their life in the third person, to modify significant details and characters, use invented subplots and imagined scenarios with real-life characters in the service of a search for self. In this way, autofiction shares similarities with the Bildungsroman as well as the New Narrative movement and has parallels with faction, a genre devised by Truman Capote to describe his work of narrative nonfiction In Cold Blood.[1]

Serge Doubrovsky coined the term in 1977 with reference to his novel Fils.[2] However, autofiction arguably existed as a practice with ancient roots long before Doubrovsky coined the term. Michael Skafidas argues that the first-person narrative can be traced back to the confessional subtleties of Sappho's lyric "I."[3] Philippe Vilain distinguishes autofiction from autobiographical novels in that autofiction requires a first-person narrative by a protagonist who has the same name as the author.[4] Elizabeth Hardwick's novel Sleepless Nights and Chris Kraus's I Love Dick have been deemed early seminal works popularizing the form of autofiction.[citation needed]


In India, autofiction has been associated with the works of Hainsia Olindi and postmodern Tamil writer Charu Nivedita. His novel Zero Degree (1998), a groundbreaking work in Tamil literature, and his Marginal Man are examples of this genre.[5] In Urdu the fiction novels of Rahman Abbas are considered major work of autofiction, especially his two novels Nakhalistan Ki Talash (In Search of an Oasis) and Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Ankh Micholi (Hide and Seek in the Shadow of God). Japanese author Hitomi Kanehara wrote a novel titled Autofiction.[6][7]

In a 2018 article for New York magazine's website Vulture, literary critic Christian Lorentzen wrote, "The term autofiction has been in vogue for the past decade to describe a wave of very good American novels by the likes of Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner, Teju Cole, Jenny Offill, and Tao Lin, among others, as well as the multivolume epic My Struggle by the Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard." He elaborated:

The way the term is used tends to be unstable, which makes sense for a genre that blends fiction and what may appear to be fact into an unstable compound. In the past, I've tried to make a distinction in my own use of the term between autobiographical fiction, autobiographical metafiction, and autofiction, arguing that in autofiction there tends to be an emphasis on the narrator's or protagonist's or authorial alter ego's status as a writer or artist and that the book's creation is inscribed in the book itself.[8]

Notable authors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Plimpton, George (16 January 1966). "The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Investigation of Autofiction & How it Operates in Gwenaelle Aubry's No One". 2017.
  3. ^ Skafidas, Michael (2019). "Celebrating the Self, Remembering the Body: Desire, Identity, and the Confessional Narrative in Autofictional Verse". ESC: English Studies in Canada. 45 (1–2): 85–111. doi:10.1353/esc.2019.0006. ISSN 1913-4835. S2CID 239359842.
  4. ^ Vilain, Philippe; Herman, Jeanine (2011). "AUTOFICTION". In Villa Gillet; Le Monde (eds.). The Novelist's Lexicon: Writers on the Words That Define Their Work. Columbia University Press. pp. 5–7. doi:10.7312/vill15080. ISBN 978-0231150804. JSTOR 10.7312/vill15080.9.
  5. ^ Khan, Faizal. "My novel was treated like a song of freedom: Charunivedita". The Economic Times.
  6. ^ "Autofiction, By Hitomi Kanehara, trans David James Karashima". The Independent. 29 February 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Autofiction by Hitomi Kanehara | The Skinny". Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  8. ^ Lorentzen, Christian (11 May 2018). "Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner, Tao Lin: How 'Auto' Is 'Autofiction'?". Vulture.