Howard Jacobson attacks the dearth of 'good readers'
The Man Booker prize-winning author warns that political correctness is killing the way we read
The novel is in danger, according to Howard Jacobson , the Man Booker prize -winning author of The Finkler Question . But, he said, the fault lies not with novelists, but with the lack of good readers.
Describing his experience of appearing at reading groups – "sometimes they are lovely, sometimes they aren't, and sometimes they are just staggeringly rude" – Jacobson said that he felt a sense of "heartbreak" when he heard readers say, "I don't like this book because I don't sympathise with the main character."
He added: "The language of sympathy and identity and what we call political correctness is killing the way we read.
"That's like the end of civilisation. That is the end. In that little sentence is a misunderstanding so profound about the nature of art, education and why we are reading, that it makes you despair. Who ever told anyone that they read a book in order to find themselves?"
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival , Jacobson said that the reader needed a "strong stomach" and ought to be able to withstand the "expression of an ugly point of view" in a book. There was, he added, great danger in the "politically correct" pressure that urged "you can't write about women like that, you can't write about men like that, you've got to be careful what you say about gays, you've got to be careful what you say about Jews… But you have to be able to say of the novel that it has free rein – it can go anywhere."
Full Article Here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/24/howard-jacobson-man-booker-novel