The 90s

Generation X

Generation X is a three part book written by Douglas Coupland. It was released in 1991 and is partially responsible for the popularity of the term “Generation X.”

The book was published by St. Martin’s Press after having given Coupland a $22,500 forward.

Generation X refers to Americans who reached adulthood in the late 1980s. The term was originally coined by Robert Capa and refers to the generation born after the baby boom of post-World War II America. It is estimated there are over 82.1 million Generation Xers.  The term has grown to not simply describe a generation but to represent a generation. Directors like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino are described as “Generation X filmmakers” and many musical groups who found their start on MTV belong to Generation X as well.


In the book, Coupland created a frame narrative.  The plot is about three friends, Andy (the narrator), Dag and Claire who are living in Southern California in 1990. The first part of the book takes place over a picnic. The second part of the book takes in more points of views to create a fuller story around Dag, Claire and Andy. The third part is about the threes lives after California and where they all end up.

While the book is now a cult classic, it was a sleeper bestseller, taking  almost three years  before gaining popularity.  Coupland, as a result, became a kind of image for Generation X.

Other books by Douglas Coupland:

  1. Shampoo Planet
  2. Worst. Person. Ever.
  3. The Gum Thief
  4. Generation A

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