One big reason why people read fiction is to feel strong emotions -- joy, surprise, anger, etc. And when it comes to anger, few literary experiences make our blood boil more than observing the actions of hypocritical protagonists.
You know that dreaded nine-letter word describing certain novels. The word that makes literature students run screaming from classrooms and older readers tremble even when dressed warmly. Yes, the word is (gasp) "difficult"!
As a writer, I've always turned to the written word to piece together the ways of the world, and to better understand myself and others. I knew that in this matter, it would be no different -- I would write a book that got to the heart of a decision that polarizes so many of us.
As bookshelves (and e-readers) continue to groan with knock-offs of Seth Grahame-Smith's knock-off, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it seems worth asking: are zombies and ninjas the only way to make the novels of previous centuries relevant again?
Crowds, controversies and chaos. That, in a nutshell, was day three of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It kicked off at 10 in the morning with political psychologist Ashis Nandy's remark about India's backward classes being flamboyant in their corrupt ways.
Some sequels are better than the first novel, and some are worse. Why? The sequel to that question will consist of several answers in this post, along with examples of sequels that did or did not surpass the original book.
The psychologists who specialize in the study of creativity are virtually unanimous: the old may be wise, but only the young are creative. These scholars are wrong. Wisdom not only can be the very source of creativity: it has been for many of our greatest innovators.
If a female writer makes the claim that the literary establishment is predominantly male-centric on account of sexism, and your response is to claim that women are both inherently less interesting and worse writers than men, then congratulations! You are being sexist.
Will 21st century authors produce any classics? As the number of books of fiction produced each year approaches staggering numbers, classics bookshelves must find themselves frustrated in their search for the needle in the proverbial haystack.
We are going through a period where such books are getting lost in the crowded corridors of our commercial enterprises. Despite this, such books will continue to be written by those who must tell these stories, and read by those who hunger to read them.
Literature is irreplaceable; it enables teachers to develop skills that other types of writing don't. And since it's on the hot seat, it's time those of us who love teaching literature got clearer about exactly why we do.
Much larger is the group of authors whose next-best books are nearly as stellar as their top ones. At the risk of sounding obvious, I think there are more authors with several great works in them than there are authors who write only one novel for the ages.
Censorship in China is widely known and lamented. Chinese literature has a long history of what Emily Dickinson's poem alluded to: Tell all the Truth but tell it slant. It's possible that Mo Yan chooses "not to speak" about the political situation directly, but to tell it slant.