Friday, March 28, 2003

"One often reads that the novel is dead or dying, and that the only books that are bought in bulk deal either with cooking or football...

"One hundred years ago, only 10% of the population ever devoured what is alluded to as serious literature. It is my belief that things haven't changed; nor should we wish it otherwise.

"All the arts--music and painting and the written word--are by their very nature elitist, which is why they have such power to enrich our lives."

-- Beryl Bainbridge, speaking at the David Cohen British literature award ceremony last night. She shares this year's prize with Thom Gunn. (This is the first time in the award's ten-year existence that it has been shared between two writers. Readers with longish memories may recall that the first winner of the Cohen award, back in 1993, was V.S. Naipaul.) This U.K. Guardian report quotes a brief passage from Bainbridge's novel The Birthday Boys, & Gunn's poem "Elvis Presley".

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