27 May 2013

this ridiculous and unworthy measure of literary value

"I believe that when W.G. Sebald makes reference to a historical event of which we are ignorant, we readers know that the lack is ours. But that is not true when we approach writers who engage with Lebanon, Sri Lanka, China or even our own First Nations history. Those writers are expected to be the explainers, interpreters, educators, spokespeople. Their literature is partly judged by their ability to balance all these roles: their literary success depends on the success of “our” education. Isn’t it time to laugh, uproariously, at this ridiculous and unworthy measure of literary value?

The world is large. As readers, let us grow into it."

from Madeleine Thien's essay in the Globe and Mail about Ma Jian's The Dark Road.

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