The 21st-Century Novel: Notes from the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference

The 21st-Century Novel: Notes from the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference


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Contemporary creative writers reflect on the past, present and future of the novel

In 2012-2013, a year-long conversation between writers took place at 17 literary festivals around the world, from Jaipur to Krasnoyarsk, and from Melbourne to Berlin. Distinguished novelists such as Irvine Welsh, Ahdaf Soueif and Ali Smith shared their thoughts on various aspects of contemporary literature the challenges it faces and the directions it is taking. This book is in part an anthology of the best of those accounts and also an overview of the lively wide-ranging global debate that the authors' views engendered among the many writers who took part. It adds up to an arresting and thought-provoking picture of the state of world literature today.

Key Features
>A powerful statement of the significance of literature in the modern world, and a call-to-arms for those who believe that fine writing is endangered
> Contributors include well-known contemporary novelists such as: China Mieville, Ahdaf Soueif, Kapka Kassabova, Irvine Welsh, Ali Smith and Kirsty Gunn
> Provides an international perspective on the issues facing writers and writing in general, and the present-day novel in particular
> A new and valuable resource for academics and students, and a fascinating primer for a wider readership for those who want to know how fiction functions & who like to get an insight into the thought processes of creative artists

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780748698349
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Publication date: 08/01/2014
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Bastable is an experienced editor, author and journalist. His Devil's Acre: A Russian Novel came out last year. He has published many non-fiction books, mostly on historical themes. He is a travel writer and a contributing editor to Condé Nast Traveller. His journalism has been published in Wallpaper, Time Out, The Sunday Times Magazine, Architectural Digest, various editions of GQ and Vogue. He is a specialist in Russia, and was a Moscow-based correspondent for The Sunday Times and The Scotsman in the 1990s.

Hannah McGill is a freelance writer and critic, and former artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Table of Contents

Foreword Nick Barley Cortina Butler 7

Edinburgh World Writers' Conference 2012-2013 13

Introduction Hannah McGill 23

The Future of the Novel

Introduction: Modernity and Machinery Hannah McGill 29

Keynote: The Autonovelator China Mieville 40

Discussion: The Protean Genre 47

Keynote: After the Novelist Teju Cole 50

Discussion: Twitter Storms 54

Keynote: Escape to the Big Time Georg Klein 60

Discussion: Enemies of the Novel 66

Keynote: A New Age of Fiction Michelle Bris 72

Discussion: Reasons to Be Hopeful 80

Keynote: A Shred of Objectivity Li Er 85

Discussion: Questions of Ownership 88

Keynote: Egypt Rising Sahar El Mougy 93

Should Literature Be Political?

Introduction: Nailing the Important Stuff Hannah McGill 99

Keynote: The Great Narrative of the World Ahdaf Soueif 104

Discussion: Politics on the Page 107

Keynote: Weapons of Struggle Njabulo Ndebele 112

Discussion: Game-Changing Books 116

Keynote: The Power and the Story Melvin Burgess 120

Discussion: The Russian Dimension 124

Keynote: The Heart of a Heartless World Amanda Lohrey 128

Discussion: The Impotent Text 134

Keynote: Words as a Pledge Atiq Rahimi 139

Discussion: On Ambiguity Benjamin Markovits 144

Keynote: Big 'p' and Little 'P' Olive Senior 147

Discussion: When is a Book Political? 151

Keynote: The State Fell, the Poem Ruled Tamim Al-Barchouti 155

Censorship Today

Introduction: Engines of Silence Hannah McGill 165

Keynote: Voices of Unreason Boualem Sansal 170

Discussion: Speaking Freely 173

Keynote: The Censors within Patrick Ness 178

Discussion: Everything Is Permitted 183

Keynote: The Gatekeepers Keith Gray 187

Discussion: On Taking Offence 194

Keynote: A Death Penalty for Thought Emmanuel Dongala 197

Discussion: Sousveillers and Fifty-Centers 203

Keynote: The Whale on the Rock Larissa Behrendt 206

A National Literature

Introduction Marking Your Territory Hannah McGill 215

Keynote: Negotiations against Difference Irvine Welsh 222

Discussion: Brit Lit 228

Keynote: Allochthoon Autochtoon Rachida Lamrabet 234

Discussion: Words of War Vilibor Colic 238

Keynote: Serve the Story Miriam Toews 242

Discussion: Writers as Nation-Builders 248

Keynote: Writing Across Boundaries Anjali Joseph 252

Discussion: News from Elsewhere 256

Keynote: On the African Novel Helon Habila 260

Discussion: Lingua Franca Alain Mabanckou 268

Keynote: Categorisation is Reductive Marlon James 272

Discussion: Above the Barriers 276

Keynote: Citizens of the Cosmopolis Kapka Kassabova 279

Style Versus Content

Introduction: Reading the Reader Hannah McGill 285

Keynote: 'Fight! Fight! Fight!' Ali Smith 290

Discussion: Thoughts Clothing 218

Keynote: The Lao of Writing Sophie Cooke 302

Discussion: Voice, Gate Watermark 308

Keynote: On Form Kirsty Gunn 310

Discussion: You've Either Got, Or You Haven't Got… 316

Keynote: The Feeling of the World Hubert Haddad 319

Afterword: The New Publishing Hannah McGill 325

Biographies of Keynote Speakers 334

Index 342

Acknowledgements 351

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