Friday, October 21, 2011

Literary Fiction

I read a New York Times interview with the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. His work sounded interesting. The interviewer describes it as falling "into an oddly fascinating hole between genres (sci-fi, fantasy, realist, hard-boiled) and cultures (Japan, America), a hole that no writer has ever explored before."

I'd say the anime director Miyazaki has explored much of the same territory: realism in Whisper of the Heart, SF and fantasy in many other movies, western culture and Japan throughout. Castle in the Sky begins in a mining town based on towns in Wales. Kiki is set in a city based on a city in Sweden. Spirited Away seems very Japanese to me. Howl's Moving Castle is European.

In any case, Murakami sounds worth checking out, nothing like my idea of "literary" fiction.

Maybe I am wrong, and there is a lot more good lit in the New York Times and the New York Review of Books than I realize.


Blogger The Erudite Ogre said...

Murakami is well-worth exploring. Sometimes he gets off-track in an uninteresting way, but most of his work is challenging, emotionally powerful, and admirably weird. I could not get into his running memoir, but his fiction is delightful, and while it fits in with "literary fiction" in some sense, it does not fall prey to what I find is a combination of abstraction, narcissism, and pedantry.

I find it hard to write well about lit fic; the last time I tried I got schooled for not knowing enough, so I am trying to remedy that. I love fantastika and the weird because those sorts of fiction can open doors that seem impossible for literary fiction to even find. But I want to understand the allure and prestige of lit fic so that I can engage it with more critical heft and improved comprehension of what it does for readers and for the system of cultural production.

8:23 AM  

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