In his second novel, Shampoo Planet (1992), Coupland turns his attention to the next generation,"Global Teens," raised on computers and music videos.
Douglas CouplandDouglas Coupland, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, visual artist (born at Baden-Söllingen, Germany 30 Dec 1961). Born on a Canadian NATO base, Douglas Coupland grew up in Vancouver, where he attended the Emily Carr College of Art and Design. A 1988 article for Vancouver Magazine led 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 preceding 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. He returns to Generation X with his third book, Life after God (1994), a collection of short stories about faithless and hopeless young adults, which incorporates illustrations by the author. His novel Microserfs (1995) follows a group of young computer programmers dissatisfied with their lives in big corporate culture. 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 and for creating caricatures rather than characters.
Several of Coupland's subsequent novels - Girlfriend in a Coma (1998), Miss Wyoming (2000), All Families Are Psychotic (2001), and Eleanor Rigby (2005) - focus more on characters, often in search of identity, humanity, and relationships. Coupland, however, continues to revel in and satirize the frenetic, superficial, and consumeristic way of life of contemporary North America. The more focused and solemn Hey Nostradamus (2003) follows the long-term aftermath of a high school massacre, narrated by a female victim, a male survivor and his relatives. Increasingly Coupland's writing is adapted for, or intended for, other media, utilizing the blended technologies he so often makes the subject of his scrutiny. jPod (2006), which revisits and updates Microserfs' world of corporate technology development, is written in blog format: the text appears as one would read it online. The novel was adapted into a 13-episode television series for CBC (2008). The story "Everything's Gone Green" was written specifically to be made into a feature film of the same name, which premiered in 2006. The Gum Thief (2007) features a novel within the novel, emphasizing the distance between conventional narrative and the fragmented, multimedia world The Gum Thief's characters, workers at Staples, inhabit. Generation A (2009), stylistically reminiscent of Generation X, reflects on the importance of storytelling and finding means of connection in a digital, often alienating world.
Coupland is also a prolific non-fiction writer. Polaroids from the Dead (1996) combines essays and fictional stories that consider contemporary society's obsession with celebrity death. His popular-culture study Lara's Book: Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider Phenomenon was published in 1998. City of Glass (2000) presents intimate verbal and visual snapshots of Coupland's home town, Vancouver. His Souvenir of Canada (2002) and Souvenir of Canada 2 (2004) combine quintessential Canadian images, like stubby beer bottles, CURLING rinks, and Canada geese, with Coupland's pithy commentaries and personal reflections on all things Canadian. In 2005 a film documentary, Souvenir of Canada, was adapted from these works. As a keen observer of the intersections of technology and popular culture, Coupland was a natural choice to author a biography of Marshall MCLUHAN, published in 2010. In the same year, Coupland was invited to present the Massey Lectures; his series challenged the boundaries of the expected form, as they were constituted of segments adapted from his novel Player One: What Is to Become of Us (2010), set in the lounge of a Toronto airport during a global disaster.
In addition to his written work, Douglas Coupland is a well-known visual artist, whose work has been exhibited across North America and Europe. His interest in breaking down boundaries between media, and between fiction and non-fiction, is evident in School Spirit (2002), a collaboration with French artist Pierre Huyghe. This work is a collage of photos and excerpts from real high school yearbooks, combined with the story of Coupland's fictional character, a student who died and whose ghost continues to haunt the school's halls. Terry: The Life of Terry Fox (2005) combines Coupland's moving biography of Terry FOX with photographs of the runner and family memorabilia. A Vancouver memorial of Fox designed by Coupland will be unveiled in 2011. Coupland has also designed a downtown Toronto park (in collaboration with architecture firm Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg) which incorporates Coupland's own sculptures, and a national monument to firefighters, to be unveiled in Ottawa in 2012. The range of his production is remarkable, including forays into fashion - a collaboration with ROOTS in 2010 - and a play, September 10 2001, performed in the UK at the Stratford New Work Festival.
Coupland is a widely recognized commentator on literature, art and popular culture in Canada and beyond, whose works have been translated into more than 36 languages. He has been nominated for THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE (2006, 2010) and the ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE (2009), and has received honourary degrees from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2001), SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY (2007) and the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (2010). He is a member of the ROYAL CANADIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS.