15 Questions and 15 Answers about Literature

Michael Salu answers questions about an artist's approach to writing

"How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of literature in society?

Literature’s role has certainly shifted.

Two hundred years ago people (namely the classes with access to education) would look to novels as sociological, philosophical and political sources as well as entertainment. Stories had a much more prominent role in society. One thinks of the distinct bourgeoisie class examinations of Honore de Balzac, for example, or the early, slightly pre-industrialisation class struggles in the work of Émile Zola.

Today, literature is more marginalised, and also, even, coddled. The industry can navel gaze a little, having determined and decided what an audience of readers looks like and what they want to read, which, I’d argue, can be narrow, and limit the kinds of works reaching the world and the reach literature could actually have, if it is more connected to our active contemporary reality. The more interesting work tends to be on the fringes...

...I think literature, although for many feels increasingly anachronistic, is still is important to shaping the vernaculars of communication. Even an instagram reel typically follows the technical fundamentals of narrative, with a vernacular that derives principally from film, and film takes its lead from the novel and the reel or the meme now takes on that visual grammar and fictionalised mode of existence.

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