The 1998 Canadian Encyclopedia


From The 1998 Canadian Encyclopedia (September 6, 1997)

By Brian John Husby

Coupland, Douglas Coupland, Douglas, novelist, short-story writer, essayist (b at Baden-Söllingen, Germany 30 Dec 1961). Born on a Canadian NATO base, Coupland grew up in Vancouver, where he attended the Emily Carr College of Art and Design. A 1988 article for "Vancouver Magazine" lead to the writing of his first book, "Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture" (1991). Although the term had existed before, Coupland uses Generation X to describe the generation born in the late 1950s and the 1960s. The group is represented in the novel by Claire, Andy and Dag, a trio resigned to a bleak future featuring lower expectations of material wealth than preceeding generations. The book was an immediate commercial success, and Coupland became a sometimes reluctant spokesperson for his generation. The use of the term Generation X has since been adopted by the media, though it is generally used to describe those slightly younger than the protagonists of Coupland's novel.

In his second novel, "Shampoo Planet" (1992), Coupland turns his attention to the next generation,"Global Teens," raised on computers and music videos, returning to Generation X with his third book, "Life after God" (1994), a collection of short stories incorporating illustrations by the author. Coupland's other books are "Microserfs" (1995), a novel, and "Polaroids of the Dead" (1996), a collection of stories and essays. Reaction to Coupland's work has been mixed. While some laud Coupland's finesse with the dialogue of the day, others criticize him for being too limited in focus.