Most often, the lovers of literary fiction find themselves disillusioned with the current form of fiction. Is it not true? For me, yes it is! Howsoever tasty the contemporary quick-fiction might be, I can never find satisfactory happiness! The happiness that I find within myself after reading a novel which is decorated with a class language and a dignified theme, I can never find even a hint of it in the contemporary fiction that I read, mostly. Yes, the happiness is at a level when I read the exceptional ones. I don’t blame the authors. I don’t even blame the readers. And even the publishers, I seldom blame them. In fact, there is no one to face the blame. This is a natural phenomenon that with time, we deteriorate. Our world, our environment, our life expectancy, our habits, and in short, everything related to humanity has been deteriorating; how could fiction be out of it? Let’s face it.
The business that writing has become today, we cannot assume a writer to invest in something which is unsure to bring back the investment with interest and profits. No ROI plus benefit and no investment – that’s the golden rule which is applied to business, new or old. So, the writers of the day are indulged in producing the fiction which can bring them back the money they spend on making their fiction popular. Can I really blame them? Being a businessperson myself, certainly not!
However, to the readers like me, the nostalgia of classic literary fiction often strikes and sends back our senses to the age-old golden pages which offer solace and a sense of completeness. It feels joyous to me and readers like me when we find that our time spent in reading a book has not been wasted on something which was left then and there, the very moment we finished the book. I do remember the shrewdness of Becky Sharp and the lust of Sir Pitt Crawley which spoiled him. I do remember the delusion of Raju and his selflessness at the same time. I do remember the confusion of Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead and their helplessness against the ‘societal norms’ and who can forget the innocent smile of our farmer Oak? The arrogance and witty ignorance of Elizabeth and Darcy are well known to the world and I don’t remind that! Can we really find something which can resemble these memories?
As a reader, it is my right to ask and I am really happy when I see that the authors who are still indulged in writing, and not the business of writing, getting rewarded for their works of literary fiction. The recent one is the Nobel Laureate, Kazuo Ishiguro. His fiction, though sad the truth is, came to light mostly after he won the prestigious award. So, rewarding them is another thing; how can we make them popular so that the readers like us (forgive me, I included you as well) don’t suffer?
Nevertheless, let me be clear about something. It’s true, that literary fiction and novels with meaning have really limited themselves in number because even the readers of such works of fiction have limited in number. So, what to do with the contemporary fiction which is being produced in abundance? I am not saying that readers like me should stop reading the contemporary works of literature. I am also sure that there are many authors who are writing really amazing works of fiction. Again, I am pretty sure that we can certainly find, among what we have, the ones who can be the masters of literary fiction in the coming days. Can we, I request, be objective? Can we, I again request, at least read the works before sweeping them all with a single broom? Can we, I urge, be informed about the works we criticise? Can we, I would admire, at least clearly bring the things that lack in a particular work to the readers’ attention?
The neutral view on modern writings will surely help the authors, not only the readers. They will also learn how they can improve their writing skills and offer better works of fiction in future. And yes, appreciating where the appreciation is needed will certainly boost their morale which is often low in the modern days! So, let’s not hate the contemporary fiction. We can surely make things better if we start helping each other. Happy reading to the readers; happy writing to the writers.
by Alok for LN