Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crusade for Modernism

I  continue my crusade in support of Josipovici though now it seems it means taking on a mighty opponent - the literary pages of the Guardian!

The English continue their love affair with their perceived giants - Amis, McEwan et al.    Nicholas Lezard's choice of the week was The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis on whom he lavishes praise commenting on the 'dazzling artistry of his style'.   While Amis writes with a certain cleverness and wit, there is little challenge, depth or innovation in his novels.   The characters do not surprise any more than the plots.   Lezard maintains that this novel is 'much more than a novel about the passing of time, or missed opportunities, or wasted talent.   Although it is all those things too'.   Well, what is the 'much more' please Nicholas!

In the same paper, Ian McEwan maintains that he has become over the years 'consciously, expressively aware of the traditions of the English novel, the treasures that are laid up for us by the great 19th century expositors of character and psychology' on which he draws for his work.  And who does he specifically cite?   Austen and Agatha Christie.   In rebuttal can I mention Joyce, Beckett and Flann O'Brien - the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of modern literature [as they were recently referred to].  

IMPAC 2011

In case any of you missed the papers or the news yesterday, the short list for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award was published.   While, the judges have to be congratulated on working through 162 books in the last five months, I am saddened to see no work of translation included.   We have lost Brodeck's Report [Claudel], Red April [Roncagliolo] and Your Face Tomorrow [Marias], all superior literary works, all demonstrative of the extraordinary literary talent and challenging work being produced in the non-English speaking world.

For  better or worse, the ten titles in the short list are:  Galore [Michael Crummey], The Lacuna [Barbara Kingsolver], The Vagrants [Yiyun Li], Ransom [David Malouf], Let the Great World Spin [Colum McCann], Little Bird of Heaven [Joyce Carol Oates], Jasper  Jones [Craig Silvey], Brooklyn [Colm Toibin], Love and Summer [William Trevor] and After the Fire, a Still Small Voice [Evie Wyld].

It might make a useful reading list for the coming weeks though I think you can all safely skip Joyce Carol Oates!