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March 16, 2014 by musehick

The English literature academic David Brauner told the Guardian last week that he believed there was a widening gulf, that American fiction was “much more exciting and diverse and vibrant than British fiction”.

This quote is from a Guardian article on a new short story prize, and I have to wonder where the hell these guys are looking, and how out of touch these so-called shapers of opinion can be. If these are the ones supposedly leading the pack when it comes to forming a picture of where the lay of the land is literature-wise, and they don’t know about the arse-kicking local scene in the UK, of which I know several writers who are as good as anything in the “mainstream”, then how can we take them seriously?

I suspect there is a degree of snobbery at work in the whole thing, and that if you look at where these guys derive their data from it is distinctly middle class or above. Why would it not have some of that taint attached to it, given that the working classes are priced out of every other kind of activity (or at least that is the aim)?

You can’t kill the impetus to create no matter how hard you try, and having engaged with a whole raft of people who may be under the radar of some of the establishment tastemakers, I would argue that while they may be in trouble, the people they choose to ignore have a very healthy self-sustaining system that is very exciting, diverse and vibrant. There are people doing things now that will be celebrated by the mainstream on a delayed reaction, and that has and always will be the way, but damn, who isn’t a little sick of all these talking heads making wide sweeping proclamations about things based on the survey of a minute and unrepresentative sample group?

Dig a little – use a fucking search engine. It would be like looking at the world of comic through the distorting filter of Marvel and DC and saying that the scope and ambition of comics is a little limited in that it only looks at super heroes. Simple boiled down to the bone coathanger headlines upon which you can hang a badly researched  story does not make something true.

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