Oh, it’s good

Yeah, I don’t much like Twilight. Or, rather, what I’ve heard so far means I’ll not see or read it voluntarily. So, no, I don’t know much about it. But this. This is good. And what makes it particularly good? This line: “You know, being stalked really isn’t a big turn-on for girls.”


This is good enough to quote in its entirety

As a mixed-race novelist (hell, just as a novelist), I would like to say to your leader writer (The trouble with Brick Lane, October 27) that I reserve the right to imagine anyone and anything I damn well please. If I want to write about Jewish people, or paedophiles or Patagonians or witches in 12th-century Finland, then I will do so, despite being “authentically” none of these things. I also give notice that if I choose, I intend to imagine what your muddled writer quaintly terms “real people” living in “real communities”. My work may convince or it may not. However, I will not accept that I have any a priori responsibility to anyone – white, black or brown, let alone any “community” – to represent them in any particular way.

If Monica Ali isn’t brown enough or working-class enough or Sylheti enough for you, then, well, that’s your weird little identity-political screw-up. Presumably she’s not white enough for someone else. I’m sick of all this cant about cultural authenticity, and sick of the duty (imposed only on “minority” writers) to represent in some quasi-political fashion. Art isn’t about promoting social cohesion, or cementing community relations. It’s about telling the truth as you see it, even if it annoys or offends some people. That’s called freedom of expression, and last time I checked we all thought it was quite a good idea.
Hari Kunzru

Letter to The Guardian.

Though it’s not Kunzru’s subject as such, he succintcly summarises most of what I feel is wrong with political trends in literary criticism and theorising (such as feminist literary theory or post-colonial literary theory).*


* The other problem, of course, is that political literary theory is political, not literary. It hardly ever says anything useful about literature and tends to just rehash political truisms that all intended readers agree with anyway.

Dear John

We need a break, my love and I. (No, not the husband. We, in fact, have had an involuntary break of a couple of days and it was horrible, so no more breaks there, please.) My other love, my first love, really: Fiction. We’re in a rut, s funk, the dumps. Peevishly glaring at each other. Finding faults. Niggling. It’s not pretty.

I don’t know what it is, precicely, but I can’t seem to find a novel I’m happy with these days. Ok, so it’s only a few weeks since I finished The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, and that was indubitably a wonderful experience and a book worth climbing mountains and fording rivers for (should such things be necessary), however, that is the only piece of fiction (unless you count what’s in the newspapers, which, possibly, you should) I’ve finished since August, and it’s getting me down. I tried reading Are Kalvø’s Nød and almost threw it across the bus. I tried Jan Kjærstad’s Kongen av Europa and considered writing to Jasper Fforde to ask if he could send a hired killer for the main character (or possibly the author, but that wouldn’t stop the book, so why bother?). I started Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord and put it away almost immediately because I really do want to read it so I didn’t want to get far enough to get mad at it. I’ve looked at the books in my tbr pile (the physical one) and I can’t find a single one that says “read me now!”. I’m in that mood where I crave a good nove, but every novel I try seems contrived and petty and full of silly mistakes that the editors should really have exterminated. I’m reading Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom’s Landing and I ought to love it but she used “specimen” twice when I’m pretty sure she means “species” and I get impatient with her for creating minor characters that are petty, ignorant, prejudiced and blatant fools, when all she is trying to do is portray human foibles.

What is a girl to do?

Well, I’ll finish Freedom’s Landing, and then I’ll take a nice long break from Fiction. I’ll see other genres, and I’m pretty sure he’ll see other people, and then in a few months we’ll fall in love all over again. I hope. Facing a future without Fiction is too bleak a scenario to contemplate.