20 11 2008


God bless Zadie! Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth and On Beauty, has written a controversial and very necessary essay entitled “Two Paths for the Novel,” published in the New York Review of Books. She compares the lyrical realism of Joseph O’Neill’s highly-praised Netherland with the experimentalism of Tom McCarthy’s Believer Book Award-winning Remainder. I have not yet read the latter, but I agree with her general premise, that the mainstream literary culture seems to encourage only one type of novel these days: the modest, familiar, lyrical realist novel. She is very right to call for a greater diversity in literature. Without ambition, daring, and experimentation, what is the “novel”?




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