Sunday, May 28, 2006
In an article in today's Observer Review, Has the Novel Lost Its Way? Robert McCrum charts the changes in publishing since the sixties when the world of literary fiction was low-key and unashamedly elitist and novelists were not celebrities or highly paid. He pinpoints the instigation of both the Booker prize and the Hay on Wye Festival as the moments which nudged the Cult of the Literary Celebrity into being. The thrust of his argument is that, while seeming to both democratise literary novels and rehabilitate novels and novelists, this cultural trend has in fact led, as I myself am always whining, to the trashing of any novelist who fails to retrieve ridiculously unrealistic advances, and also to 'Lit-Lite': a short route to a quick buck, a blast of instant celebrity and a text devoid of consequence or meaning.