Thursday, October 06, 2005

Laila Lalami, aka Moorish Girl (and the author of the new story collection, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which I am very eager to read) has written an important essay, Fiction in the Age of Poverty for Powells.com. An excerpt:

There can be no doubt that terrorism is a threat to Americans as well as to millions around the world. But, as Hurricane Katrina has shown, poverty is as much, if not a greater threat. And yet, despite the increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots that affects the entire world, where is the talk of the state of fiction in the age of poverty? Where are the novels that address class divides? Why aren't people wondering whether fiction can truly reflect a reality where the richest monopolize media attention while the poorest are seen only in times of crises?

2 comments:

Donna said...

Fiction in the 21st century

Gail, you have been posting some incredibly interesting blog posts lately. I can see that you met the muse at the protest in DC!

I'm curious as to what you think about movies. It seems to me that most people (including myself) get most of their fiction on the screen these days. While I do read novels, I watch many more movies and I know many people who get all of their fiction onscreen. I'm wondering how that fits into the mix, particularly since movies are so incredibly expensive to produce and distribute in comparison to books, and they are collaborative projects rather than the voice of a single author.

gayle said...

Thanks so much, Donna! DC inspired me, for sure. I am all fired up!

I think movies, like novels, have the capacity to inspire empathy and compassion because they give us windows into other people's lives, help take us beyond our own experience, help us expand our own boundaries (I'm talking about good movies, of course; bad movies can do the opposite, can reify a very narrow and small-minded view of the world). Because so many hands go into making a film, I think it can be harder for a filmmaker's individual vision to remain solid and untouched (although of course some filmmakers do end up having a very distinctive fingerprint and voice.) And, as you mentioned, films are so incredibly expensive to make that ultimately vision may be sacrified for what will sell. Of course, that happens in the publishing world, too. But in a slick, visual, collaborative medium like film, I'm sure it happens all the more. Amazing films are out there, though, and they can be as satisfying and life changing as a good novel.

I have no idea if I answered your question, but you've given me alot to think about--thanks for that!