The Iraq War and the Failed Literary Establishment

In a Guardian books blog entry, The President of the National Book Critics Circle, John Freeman, writes 

“…when it comes to the arena in which novelists can have the most impact – their art – this generation (with the notable exception of Gary Shteyngart and his Absurdistan has been rather silent about the Bush years, so blisteringly described by Olbermann.

“Part of this – I think – has to do with the difficulty so many novelists, let alone Americans at large, had in absorbing 9/11. The trauma, the anger and the loss of that event have sucked up all the imaginative oxygen in the room.

“Six years after the attacks, the novel-based responses to that day – including Don DeLillo’s The Falling Man – continue to trickle in. But no one is writing about rendition or torture or trumped up fears.”

Actually a few – ignored – fiction authors are “writing about rendition or torture or trumped up fears” especially as tied-in to the subsequent far more devastating related Iraq War and the US corporate-state government in general. And while it’s easily accurate that enough authors are failing to write enough of this sort of fiction, it’s also easily accurate that the literary establishment is failing to solicit such work and that reviewers are failing to review quality novels that do get written in this regard. Thus, reviewers and publishers effectively discourage such work from being written in the first place. Who in the establishment will have much or anything to do with it? Here it is – waiting to be reviewed – the sort of thing that is also willing to be solicited: see Iraq War Fiction.

The movie industry, for the good or the bad, seems to be catching on. But publishing? And book reviewing?

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