Thursday, January 23, 2014

Writers attack 'overrated' Anglo-American literature at Jaipur festival

Xiaolu Guo
American literature is "massively overrated", the award-winning author and film-maker Xiaolu Guo told the Jaipur literature festival – and fellow panellist and US novelist Jonathan Franzen – this weekend.
A session on the global novel in Jaipur on Saturday saw the Chinese/British writer Guo, one of Granta's best of young British novelists who has also been shortlisted for the Orange prize, attack the way "our reading habit has totally been transformed by the mainstream"."Our reading habit has been stolen and changed" said Guo. "For example I think Asian literature is much less narrative … but our reading habit is more Anglo-Saxon, more American … Nowadays all this narrative [literature is] very similar, it's so realism, so story-telling driven … so all the poetry, all the alternative things, have been pushed away by mainstream society."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Modern fiction: Wildlife by Richard Ford

This is Richard Ford's  fourth novel, written in 1990. He is perhaps better known for Independence Day, which won the Pulitzer Prize and Penn prizes. Ford is often compared to Faulkner or Hemingway in that he holds a mirror up to American society and we see reflected in it and lives of the characters he creates, both the universal human condition and that of America's ordinary people.

 Wildlife is characterized by clear, tight, poetic, if a somewhat distant, narrative style. This reflects the overarching theme of the futility and sterility of unfulfilled lives.

The story is set in 1960, and is told in the first person, by Joe Brinson, a young man living with his parents. Like many of Ford's creations, he is caught at the moment of transience, having recently moved to Great Falls and not having made many friends. His father Jerry has recently lost his job, and becomes a fire fighter. He is sent off to fight a raging forest fire. In the few days he is gone, Joe's mother has an affair. The natural disaster serves as metaphor, too, for the explosive passions that the family must share.
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