Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vikram Seth Interview

Outlook India interviews Vikram Seth.
Q:You are the first writer from India who wrote literary fiction that sold like commercial fiction, blurring the distinction between the two. Do you deliberately aim to be readable?

A:I certainly aim to be readable because those are the kind (of books) I like to read. I like to make things as clear as possible within the limits of the complexities of human relations and the structure of language. I don’t try to make things simplistic, though. I do hope this distinction between the literary and the commercial is one that will be increasingly blurred. It never used to be like this in the 19th century. Writers like Dickens and Austen were read very widely. I don’t see why in the 20th century writers started writing in such an abstruse manner that unless you have a degree in English Literature—and perhaps not even then—you can’t read or enjoy their books. Critics say that the so-called airport novel is a kind of shlocky, formulary fiction. But for all its shlockiness, at least it is a page-turner, you want to know what’s happening. Basic issues of human interest—honour, ambition, love, enmity, family, money, intrigue, death—really matter, rather than the etiolated idea of writing some over-dense, over-referential literary construct.

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