Jul 5, 2010

Why Lee Siegel is wrong to declare the novel dead

by Robert McCrum, taken from the guardian.co.uk

Every few years, some columnist in Britain or America pops up to declare the novel dead, or at the very least in the ICU.

From memory, the last time anyone in the UK got any traction from flogging this elderly nag was in 2001 when Andrew Marr told readers of the Observer that the novel was deader than a dozen doornails. Sure enough, the ensuing debate ran on for days.

Now, this seasonal ritual has been revived by the US critic Lee Siegel, writing in the New York Observer. Contemporary fiction, says Siegel, has become "a museum piece genre". The real creative energy today lies with non-fiction.

Siegel and his editors will have been delighted at the ink generated by this unexceptional opinion. In the US, from the LA Times to the Huffington Post, everyone has weighed in. The last time this topic was so comprehensively ventilated was in 2003, when Harold Bloom denounced Stephen King as unworthy of a National Book Foundation award.


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