The superstar at the front.

From a conversation between Scott Esposito and Chad Post, chief honcho-of-sorts of Reading the World:

What kind of scares me about superstars of this sort is the way in which they become the sole representative of their country’s literature. For example, Jose Saramago has come to represent Portuguese literature, overshadowing a lot of other equally talented writers, like Antonio Lobo Antunes. I’m not trying to say that Saramago is a bad writer, but a combination of things in our culture (especially the media) create a situation in which one author from a particular country receives an inordinate amount of attention and after reading about him/her, people move on. And in my opinion, these authors are frequently not the best writers from their respective countries, and for the benefit of readers, we should be constantly exposed to a wider range of writers, instead of just the most popular ones.

This is way oversimplified and not as articulate as it could be, but I just feel like the culture is really complacent about finding out about other literatures and it saddens me when really dedicated, literary people feel like they "know" Portuguese lit (for example) after reading the one "big" author. It’s like listening to John Coltrane’s "A Love Supreme" and feeling like you have a handle on free jazz.


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