Fiction, Nonfiction and the Space in Between: WSJ on JLF’s Day Two
The first session on the Jaipur Literature Festival’s Front Lawns on Saturday was entitled “The Global Novel,” and for an hour, the six international panelists circled their subject warily, never quite agreeing upon what they should debating. But the slippery topic did yield some firm insights.
Moderator and author Chandrahas Choudhury began by proposing that the novel has been global for as long as it has existed. But he asked whether was something different today, now that, thanks to technology and globalization, authors can have a larger and farther-flung audience than previously imaginable.
American novelist Jonathan Franzen feared that his upbringing made his viewpoint necessarily circumscribed. “I was born in the center of the great colonial power of my era,” Mr. Franzen said. “Certain questions of identity and concern about the rest of the world didn’t necessarily apply in the Midwest of the U.S. in 1959.”
London-born novelist Jhumpa Lahiri said it was important to distinguish between “global” and “universal.”
“Global” is a commercial term, she said, used only for marketing books, whereas ”universal” is about “writers transcending barriers of ourselves.”