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creative nonfiction

Like a Novel

April 11, 2013

I recently read KatherineBoo’s 2012 National Book Award–winning portrait of a Mumbai slum, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, with my students in a creative nonfiction class at Dartmouth College. Boo spent a little more than three years in the slum [...]

The Novel is Dead, Long Live the Novel

Nevertheless, we are irked—irked because of the predictability of these reports, irked because they are written by people who know (or claim to know) what literature can do, who claim to be experts on the subject of Why People Read and Write Books, and yet who, somehow and repeatedly, seem to completely miss the point, who don’t understand why someone might go to nonfiction for one thing, to fiction for another. The problem is not that the different genres might do different things, serve different needs, have different goals, provoke different reactions in their readers; the problem is that suggesting fiction should be more like nonfiction—needs to be more like nonfiction—diminishes both genres, making our literary world a lesser place.