Fiction “Culturally Irrelevant”

News of a new literary scuffle in the States as critic Lee Siegel has pronounced fiction “culturally irrelevant” because “no one goes to a current novel or story for the ineffable private and public clarity fiction once provided” in his New York Observer column.

He goes onto to call fiction “a museum piece genre most of whose practitioners are more like cripplingly self-conscious curators or theoreticians than writers”. He takes a swipe at the New Yorker’s “Twenty Under Forty” (which he calls a “self-promoting, vulgar list”) and fellow critic James Woods.

The Los Angeles Times responded to Siegel’s assertion that fiction has bitten the dust with a weary “Here we go again”, pointing out that many have made the same argument in the past. Their article returns fire with “It’s hard to figure out which is more problematic: how poorly Siegel’s argument is made, or how many things he gets wrong in the process.”