Why is American fiction in it’s current dismal state: An Essay by Anis Shivani

I applied for a literary residency today and in my application I told the committee that the choice of my good self would have this result:

“A win of this residency for a writer like me will be an exciting development in the endorsement of writers who work hard outside of the established ‘system’. It won’t just provide encouragement for me. It will be acknowledging the importance of self-educated writers the world over and a big step forward for the recognition of the independent, outsider voice. “

It is highly unlikely a writer such as myself will ever get chosen for residency’s, top literary magazines, grants or prize winners.  I am aware of this. Because I have a passion to write – to get the words inside of me out in a way that does justice to the message – I only care every now and then.

Despite my magnanimity, the sad truth of the situation is that ‘establishment’ writers – those churned out through the classroom that produce contemporary ‘literature’ about the endless banality of experiences we all have (that is very different from experiences we relate to) that never rocks a boat, upsets an apple cart nor places cat’s among pigeons. We are witnessing the taming of literature. This capitalist act is far more pervasive than book banning, and more successful than anything George Orwell may have suggested in 1984.

A good example of this is my current read of Murakami’s 1Q84, which (at 68% through) is a tiresome bundle of obedient cliches and author conceit. Something really amazing had better happen soon, or I will be bound to announce another Emperor with no clothes. (!)

As technology gets more interesting, there is more threat to the reader of literature (not reader – reader of literature) and nothing pours oil over waves like tying wages to the outcome of novels. All those people in the literary “industry” have to be kept in jobs after all.

My mention of this is in passing only. I wanted mostly to draw attention to this excellent article written by Anis Shivani for the Barcelona Review.  Shivani says it better than I can – it’s a magnificent read.