Nathalie Sarraute's Tropisms is considered one of the defining texts of the nouveau roman movement. Tropisms was championed as a masterpiece by Jean Genet, Marguerite Duras, and Jean-Paul Sartre, who hailed Sarraute as his favorite "anti-novelist." Sarraute defined her Tropisms as the "movements that are hidden under the commonplace, seemingly harmless instances of our everyday lives." Like figures in a grainy and shadowy photo, the characters in Tropisms are barely defined, the narrative never developed beyond a stressed moment. Instead, Sarraute brilliantly highlights the shift in tone through remarks or subtle details when a relationship changes, when we fall slightly deeper into or begin to emerge out of love or trust, or when something innocent tilts by the smallest degree toward suspicion.
Tropisms--something like 'prose poems'--as Sarraute calls them that-- this is her form! Her texture is anti-novelistic, though she's decided to write 'novels' and launched an important critique of the novel on the basis of her method.--Susan Sontag
Translated by Maria Jolas.