The Pleasures of Babel acquaints the layperson and the expert alike with the creative and intellectual achievements of America's multicultural society. Arguing that the present is "a great period of writing," Jay Clayton relates novels from the seventies, eighties, and nineties to the latestdevelopments in literary theory. He offers a lucid, cutting-edge look at the often stormy relationship between contemporary literature and criticism. Avoiding theoretical jargon, Clayton systematically sets out to make sense of the critical movements of the last two decades: deconstruction,psychoanalysis, minority writing, multiculturalism, and feminism. In the course of clarifying the accomplishments of Barthes, Kristeva, Lyotard, Said, and others, the author discusses some of America's most prominent writers of fiction: Saul Bellow, Sandra Cisneros, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, andmany others. The result successfully weds a layperson's guide to recent criticism with a scholarly application of that criticism to the very works it concerns. In light of the current debates being waged over the canon and multiculturalism, The Pleasures of Babel should prove an indispensable toolfor those engaged in the practice of literary criticism, as well as anyone concerned with the way in which narrative interacts with society.