July 08, 2009



I'm not sure why Kushner thinks writing about outsider communities is no longer tolerated. It continues to be a staple of genre fiction (or doesn't that count?). And Man Gone Down, which won this year's Impac prize, is all about the economic fringe communities, the writing of which is supposedly no longer tolerated. By whom?

rachel kushner

I'm glad you brought this up. I didn't say writing about outsider communities is no longer tolerated. I said living in them in order to write about them isn't, or possibly never was. There are exceptions (which only prove the rule in my opinion), though I would not consider Man Gone Down among them, since Thomas was a teacher of fiction as he wrote the book (not a bookie or prisoner),and the outside here is primarily racial, another (and much larger, more pressing) issue entirely (being a black American is not opting to "live in order to tell"). Algren shaped his life a certain way in order to write about that shape.

For better or worse, most writers of literary fiction come from the upper middle class, and most writing teachers do not encourage people to "live" in order to accrue material, and instead quote Flannery O'Connor, "Anybody who has survived his childhood..."

Lastly, re: genre fiction, I was talking about NBA winners and high institutional praise, and so no, it doesn't really count in this specific context.

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