Originally called anti-novel by, amongst others, Jean-Paul Sartre, it developed in the 1950s primarily around those writers published by Les Editions de Minuit. The key features of the nouveau roman were little or no plot, a focus on repeated description of details, lack of an omniscient narrator, rejection of the novel of ideas, rejection of any political commitment, death of the idea of characters, a focus on thought or, more particularly, conscience, rather than action, and repetition. As Robbe-Grillet put it gestes et objets seront là avant d’être quelque chose [Gestures and objects will be there before being something]. Two key texts, quasi-manifestos, were Robbe-Grillet‘s Pour un Nouveau Roman (For a New Novel) and Nathalie Sarraute‘s L’ère du soupçon (The Age of Suspicion).
There is now a post-nouveau roman, though far less clearly defined, which seems, in some cases, to mix the nouveau roman and the detective novel and in others merely seems to be any somewhat unconventional novelist who started writing from 1980 onwards. It may (or may not) include Perec, Darrieussecq, Echenoz, Nothomb, Houellebecq and others. It may also be akin to the American post-post-modernism/Generation X writers. But it may not.