Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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I agree with you that the 'flaws' he finds are a bit small. I have a sneaking suspicion that the anomaly in the Zadie Smith novel, for instance, might be intentional (it kind of adds something to 'recovered history' theme in the novel).

His point about whether the new crop of multicultural fiction sometimes proposes answers that are a little too easy ("You can do whatever you want") seems more serious. But the flaw might not be the reader's failure to achieve the properly "readerly" frame of mind so much as it is a function of market forces that impact the writer's choices about how they resolve their stories. It sounds quite cynical, but these writers are thinking about the movie rights they're going to sell (how long before "White Teeth" is a movie?). They're thinking about the financial advantages of "happy" endings resulting in the empowerment of their protagonists.

We all know that commercial considerations are nothing new. As I recall from my graduate seminar days, writers from Richardson to Dickens were acutely aware of what their readers demanded -- they got feedback in the mail every week. Sometimes they even tweaked their own stories in mid-stream on reader demand!

I still find some of books Khair is talking about to be quite good (I'm planning to try my hand at teaching "Brick Lane" in the spring).

Dan Green

Amardeep: You may be right about "market forces," although I would like to think that writers such as Smith and Monica Ali are serious enough about their work that they'd not simply give in to them.


(White Teeth was adapted by the BBC and aired on Masterpiece Theatre here in the States.)

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