Saturday, August 29, 2009

Future of Fiction?

"The novel is finally waking up from its 100-year carbonite nap. Old hierarchies of taste are collapsing. Genres are hybridizing. The balance of power is swinging from the writer back to the reader, and compromises with the public taste are being struck all over the place. Lyricism is on the wane, and suspense and humor and pacing are shedding their stigmas and taking their place as the core literary technologies of the 21st century. "
Do you agree?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

James Kelman Frisson

James Kelman, Scotland's only Booker Prize winner, is in his 70's, but he can still speak up his mind with great aplomb.

"If the Nobel Prize came from Scotland they would give it to a writer of f****** detective fiction, or else some kind of child writer, or something that was not even new when Enid Blyton was writing the Faraway Tree, because she was writing about some upper middle-class young magician or some f****** crap."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Support of Literature of Social Change

Call for Submissions for the Bellwether Prize

From the Press release
The Bellwether Prize supports the writing and publication of serious literary fiction addressing issues of social justice in culture and human relations, underlining the political power of literature. No other North American endowment or prize specifically supports a literature of social responsibility.

Fiction has a unique capacity to bring difficult issues to a broad readership on a personal level,creating empathy in a reader’s heart for the theoretical stranger,” said Kingsolver. “Artists can be the bellwethers of social and moral progress. Think of Nadine Gordimer writing about race and power in South Africa, or Pablo Neruda writing with sarcastic, visionary wit about corporate imperialism in Chile. So many important novelists have written beautifully constructed social critique. We have that tradition in the U.S. as well, with John Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath or Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. These are literary novels that argue eloquently for greater consciousness of human justice, and are also spectacular, enduring literature. But in the modern era, writers with this kind of vision do not find a lot of advocacy in our publishing industry.”

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Adam Thirlwell interview

Adam Thirlwell made waves with his debut novel Politics six years ago. The British mini-Kundera, as he is sometimes called, has a new novel now.

Q:What are the roots of your own passion for literature?

A: Aged 13, on a summer holiday, I discovered poetry. In some terribly Freudian way, it was related to having my mother's attention. I discovered words could be so much fun without even understanding them. I've always been interested in words when they go a bit haywire and the sound and sense get dislocated. I was 18 and I'd gone to Prague and visited Kafka's house. I bought Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel. I'd never thought of the novel as a poetic form. What I've got from Kundera is that a novel can be as playful as a poem. More and more, I think of writing as a way of creating your own map of the world, discovering what is possible, and describing a reality that is most Adamish. You can impose your own patterns on what is lacking in pattern. One of the games of writing is that some repeats are fruitful. It's also a game of constant contradiction.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Imre Kertész wins the Jean Améry Prize

Imre Kertesz, the 2002 Nobel Laureate, wins this year's 12-thousand- euro Jean Amery Prize sponsored by the Austrian Erste Bank and the Stuttgart publisher Klett-Cotta – which is conferred every second year at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

"The oeuvre of Kertész as an essay-writer works on the basis of Enlightenment thinking, which has learnt the lessons of the barbarism of Fascism and Communism, and works for a Europe that will either become an enlightened and free Europe or it will not exist at all"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Times' Best 60 Novels of the past 60 Years

The times has published The best 60 books of the past 60 years to celebrate the Cheltenham Literary festival anniversary.

It begins with George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, and ends with The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. In between, you see lots of really good novels. But how is it that each year has produced only one good novel?

While I'm glad that Boris Pasternek, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, J.M. Coetzee and many other worthy writers are there in the list, I'm shocked Salman Rushdie, Gunter Grass, Jose Saramago and Aleksandr Solshenitzyn don't figure at all. Shame, this omission!I knew they would not include Elfride Zelinek.

And a word about the titles. Why Love at the time of Cholera in stead of One Hundred Years of Solitude? They could include both the titles.

And if you think A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is worth it, how can you not include Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things?.

However, I admire this passage from Erica Wagner's introduction.

There will never be a single list, however, of “the 60 best novels of the past 60 years”; you can’t please all of the people all of the time. For what you love to read depends on who you are; what made you read it; where you were when you first discovered a book; who pressed it into your hand; what mood you were in the day you turned the first page; whether the scent of the pages reminded you of libraries past.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Return of short story

It is an enigma that even in these busy times readers opt more for novels than short stories. But things are changing, says Nilanjana Roy, an Indian writer-critic.

There are signs that the three-to-four decade-long obsession with the novel at the expense of the short story might be changing. Some of this has to do with the power and clout exercised by better-established writers; some of this has to do with the influence of major prizes, such as the Man Booker International and the Pulitzer. And, I hope, some of this may have to do with the changing tastes of the reading public; if publishing is faced with a growing demand for short stories, the industry can no longer hide behind the excuse that “short stories don’t sell”.

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