A member of the Nobel Prize jury has asserted that American literature is "too insular" to compete with Europeans for the Big Game, and a number of Americans take the bait:
Speaking generally about American literature, however, he said U.S. writers are "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture," dragging down the quality of their work.
"The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature," Engdahl said. "That ignorance is restraining."
His comments were met with fierce reactions from literary officials across the Atlantic.
"You would think that the permanent secretary of an academy that pretends to wisdom but has historically overlooked Proust, Joyce, and Nabokov, to name just a few non-Nobelists, would spare us the categorical lectures," said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker.
We'll probably get in trouble for saying he is right about some things - we don't translate enough, we are a bit too insular. But we'd ask for a bit more clarity about this so-called "big dialogue of literature" that appears to be seizing Europe. 'Cause we were just there and saw plenty of, y'know, cookbooks and celebrity tell-alls. Unless they are talking about this one. Just saying.