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The Future of Fiction, Revealed

 by Julie Hanus

Tags: Great Writing, books and publishers, future of fiction, publishing, print, Jim Ruland, Michael Bérubé, Kelly Cherry, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Marjorie Perloff, Larry Fondation, American Review of Books,

The future of fiction?What’s the future of fiction? The stalwart American Book Review has the answer. Well, answers: The publication collected opinions from over 60 people (largely scholars, writers, and literary critics), and printed the delightful/depressing offerings in its July-August 2009 issue.

From mini-dissertations to one-liners, from quoted lyrics to URLs, the collected thoughts aren’t merely prophecy; they’re also a sounding board for the mood of the literary community at this moment when print is largely considered to be in peril. Here are some standouts:

Jim Ruland: Fiction is alive and well; it’s the machines through which these inventions are expressed (i.e., books) that are going the way of the dodo. If this process comes to be known as the de-commodification of fiction, then the next few decades will be extraordinary.

Michael Bérubé: I’m inclined to reply with a URL:

Kelly Cherry: The future of fiction may lie in some combination of hypertextuality, intertextuality, and video, but if so, it will have to do without me. Of course, it will ultimately have to do without me no matter what direction it goes in, so at this point I’m not very invested in the question. But I believe that no matter what fiction will continue to be interested in character and language. How otherwise?

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: I see fiction’s future as strong in the coming years: in tough times, people turn more than ever to stories, which tell the truth aslant and cleanse us through catharsis, and novels are still the least expensive and most meaningful way to travel the world.

Marjorie Perloff: I predict future fiction will be much more transnational than it was in the 60s–70s. Witness the attention Roberto Bolaño, Javier Marías, W. G. Sebald, and others are receiving.

Larry Fondation: The future of fiction rests with its ability to regain its public function—as a principal way we relate narrative, as an indispensable means of telling our story and that of our era.

Stephen Graham Jones: Fiction’s future: it’s all made up.

Source: American Book Review

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