A not-quite-complete list of literary novels from the past decade that either focus on digital media/technology, or otherwise acknowledge its existence in a meaningful way. Alphabetical by author surname. Got suggestions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, 2015
Joshua Cohen, failed novelist, is contracted to ghostwrite the autobiography of Joshua Cohen, billionaire founder of the world’s most powerful tech company. This is a long, dense book that’s sometimes entertaining, sometimes pretentious.
The Familiar by Mark Z Danielewski, 2015 —.
A planned 27-part series of graphic novels — with each instalment sitting at around 800 pages — from the author of House of Leaves. Parts 1-4 have been published so far. With a teen girl as one of the POV characters, this naturally covers (fictional) forms of social media and the anxieties they cause. With its tech-savvy characters, sections written in semi-code, and visual representations of online video, this series is set very firmly in the present (even if that present is a slightly alternative present).
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, 2011
Novel, or series of short stories? A Visit from the Goon Squad isn’t exactly about digital media, but it doesn’t shy away from it either. Also has a Powerpoint presentation at the end.
The Circle by Dave Eggars, 2013
College graduate Mae gets a job at The Circle (= Google on steroids). The deeper she goes down the rabbit hole, the more terrifying things become. It does a lot of things right — and tries very hard to make a point — but ultimately feels shallow, with a protagonist so bland that it’s difficult to care.
I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek, 2016
A vicious and funny attack on tech culture and the digital age. Set in San Francisco in 2015, I Hate the Internet is a self-proclaimed Bad Novel, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki, 2017
In the Hollywood Hills, a writer decides to take a break from her husband. She and her two children are joined by an arty young lodger from Craigslist. This isn’t a novel about the internet, but it very much acknowledges its impact on our lives, with familiar tech like iPads and Twitter making appearances.
Taipei by Tao Lin, 2013
Paul, a (barely) fictionalised version of the author, goes to lots of parties, sends a lot of emails, and takes a lot of drugs. Would either rate this two stars or four stars, depending on which way I look at it, but it’s certainly not a three-star novel.
So Happy It Hurts by Anneliese Mackintosh, 2017
A contemporary epistolary novel that uses diary entries, emails and receipts to tell the story of Ottila McGregor, a woman whose new year’s resolution is to make herself happy — “so happy it hurts,” as she says to her therapist.
The Original Face by Guillaume Morissette, 2017
Hotels of North America by Rick Moody, 2015
A life story told in hotel reviews on RateYourLodging.com (=TripAdvisor). Funny and sad and a great use of form.
Made for Love by Alissa Nutting, 2017
After leaving her husband Byron — the CEO of tech giant Gogol Industries — Hazel goes to live with her father and his extremely lifelike sex doll Diane in a trailer park for senior citizens. As Hazel tries to carve out a new life for herself, Byron uses the sophisticated tech at his disposal to try and bring her home.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, 2010
Set in a dystopian New York obsessed with media and retail, Super Sad True Love Story follows an unremarkable middle-aged man as he falls in love with a mostly uninterested young woman. Black Mirror vibes.
Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic, 2017
Sympathy explores obsession, identity and relationships in the digital age. Read our full review.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, 2015
A suburban family becomes the focus of a reality TV show when fourteen-year-old Marjorie starts displaying signs of mental illness and/or demonic possession. An extremely clever update to the possession story, and up there with House of Leaves for contemporary horror. Read our interview with Paul Tremblay for more.
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay, 2016
Thirteen-year-old Tommy goes missing in the woods. Characters communicate using Snapchat and Minecraft.
Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte, 2016
A satirical portrait of privilege and friendship in millennial San Francisco. Private Citizens follows four Stanford grads as they bounce between tech startups, cults and karaoke bars in the Bay Area.