"[A] provocative account of the mechanisms that enable and shape 'the systems epoch' of the Anthropocene. . . . A challenging and rewarding read. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."
-- A. Jenkins Choice
"[T]hrow[s] an intriguing new light on why and how 'world literature' succeeds in generating plurality and disruption rather than falling back into a flattening familiarity."
-- Caroline Levine Public Books
"[A] penetrating, clever, and ambitious book, and essential ... reading for anyone thinking capaciously about modernity and form. Read it for your scholarship, or in preparation for the next time a university official in a meeting feels the need to explain what ‘the reality is’ – you’ll know it’s the reality of the official world."
-- Natalia Cecire Textual Practice
"I read Mark Seltzer’s The Official World with gratitude as well as admiration…. One favorite discussion concerns the position of theme parks as 'small worlds' modeling the official world.... Another is the relevance of the ambiguity, uncertainty, and paradox of modernist literature for the improvisatory state of mind needed in military strategy for cybernetic warfare."
-- Gregory L. Ulmer Electronic Book Review
"Mark Seltzer’s career-long interest in the relations binding narrative form, collective psychology, and power relations achieves a sleek, elegant crescendo with The Official World…. Readers who have a working familiarity with Niklas Luhmann and Peter Sloterdijk will find The Official World’s commentaries deeply resonant. For those less versed in these writers, Seltzer’s study provides one of the best illustrations of the ways in which the above approaches can be utilized for literary and cultural studies. Although the work is not explicitly located within American studies, The Official World’s primary use of evidentiary materials from the United States makes it easily understood as such, even if the critical discussions staged therein are not often situated as central to the field’s self-perception, either within or beyond the host nation. A pleasure to read, The Official World deserves to be seen as a state-of-the-art study."
-- Stephen Shapiro Journal of American Studies
"The Official World is many things: an original and compelling account of modernity; a primer on systems theory; a methodological intervention; and a profound commentary—humorous at times, at times startling and even frightening—on the way of the world. Whether it is admired most for its engagements with Luhmann and Goffman, its insights into the fiction and art of the official world, its exemplification of how literary criticism can be its own kind of social science, or all of the above, it should be required reading for anyone interested in modernity."
-- David Alworth ALH Online Review
"Theoretically nuanced and enthralling in its ability to manoeuvre between popular culture, literary fiction, and those works that stand somewhere in between, Seltzer’s study of officialdom is one of the most intellectually dynamic books of 2016, and, for its wholly distinct prose, also one of the most pleasurable to read. . . . This work is utterly captivating, and forces critics to reimagine practically every aspect of the modern that we may have taken for granted."
-- Matthew Levay Year's Work in English Studies
"Seltzer tracks and unfolds elements of the official world by way of brilliant readings of postwar writers (Patricia Highsmith, Tom McCarthy, J. G. Ballard, Kazuo Ishiguro, and others) and occasional forays into film and visual art that are always informed by the longer history of media and the technologies that underlie them."
-- Adam Frank American Literature