Dispatches | October 06, 2008

If you’ve been following the controversy surrounding the denunciation of American writers by Nobel judging panel’s permanent secretary, Horace Engdahl, then you’ve probably formed some opinion as to whether U.S. authors are truly “insular” and writing somewhere in the margins of a literary world in which Europe is, Engdahl claims, at the center.  I won’t say which opinion you’re supposed to hold, but here’s a clue: there’s such a thing as literary treason.


While most American writers are justifiably spitting mad (I’ve heard a misguided few say they agreed with Engdahl), there are also some Europeans coming to their defense, including Sam Leith of the Telegraph.  His stance is that “You’re wrong, Mr Engdahl. Wrong, wrong, big fat hairy wrong. So yah boo.”  Words well spoken, and oh-so-true when you consider our Roths, Updikes, and other younger stars ascending.


For a lively, well-reasoned defense of literature in English in general and American literature in particular, see his column—and the rather impassioned commentary that follows.