Is fiction getting dumber?
This is essentially the question the NY Times posed to a number of contemporary authors earlier this summer–as the season of so-called escapist or guilty pleasure reading began. In the Times‘ “Room for Debate” online section, Jane Smiley and five other writers address whether or not fiction is changing, and if so, is it for better or worse.
My observation is that we have an extraordinary roster of very competent fiction writers in North America–more so than when I was growing up. Plus, over the past couple of decades, we have been fortunate to have access to writers from more distant cultures–certainly in South America, and increasingly we are hearing from Africa and Asia. But back to the explosion of competent writers emerging from graduate programs across the country: are there truly great literary voices among them?
And, getting back to what most people read when they read, here’s the latest from the NY Times bestselling lists, combining print and e-book.
What do you think about the quality of 21st century fiction? Are there any living authors who you think are worthy of joining the pantheon of iconic writers of yore? (Just wanted to use that word…it’s old, y’know.)