These two books address the novel's cultural roles relative to prominent political institutions in the post–World War II United States. Michael Szalay's Hip Figures ties together the 1960s rebranding of the Democratic Party and the literary market surrounding “hip,” while Timothy Melley's The Covert Sphere investigates the forms of literature and politics that surround the rise of the CIA and the rest of the US government's covert sector since the early Cold War. Both books trace the circuits of exchange between institutions and prominent forms of cultural expression, and both give fresh and needed perspectives on the concrete relationships between literature and politics in the postwar period. This focus on institutions is a key part of what is exciting about both books, each of which grounds precise periodizing claims about post–World War II literary works by tracing the complex roles they have...

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