Philip Roth Predicts the Death of the Novel; Paul Auster Counters

Novels — they’re in inevitable decline. They can’t compete with the movie screen, the TV screen and now the computer screen. Give things 25 years, and there will be just a small cult of readers left. That’s the prediction of American author, Philip Roth, who has 27 novels to his credit. And apparently, Roth is personally hastening the process. Earlier this year, he told a reporter for the Financial Times: “I’ve stopped reading fiction. I don’t read it at all. I read other things: history, biography. I don’t have the same interest in fiction that I once did.” When asked why, he quipped: “I don’t know. I wised up … ”

For Paul Auster, another productive novelist, the reports of the novel’s death are greatly exaggerated. Humans hunger for stories. They always will. And, the novel, it knows how to adapt and survive. Will it survive with the help of technology? Auster might not be the best person to ask. He owns neither a computer nor a mobile phone. Lucky man.

Bonus: You can listen to Paul Auster read The Red Notebook, a collection of short stories published in 2002, right here. (He starts reading at around the 8:30 mark.) We have it listed in our collection of Free Audio Books.

Related Content:

John Irving: The Road Ahead for Aspiring Novelists

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Comments (4)
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  • yes, it’s an interesting debate (and I totally agree with paul auster) – but the videos date back to two years ago…

  • Dustin says:

    I didn’t read at all until the Kindle app came out for the iPhone. Now that I have books on a device that is always with me, I can read a little bit whenever I have a spare moment. Roth claims that “if you read the novel in more than two weeks you don’t read the novel really,” but this generation is used to receiving stories bits at a time thanks to episodic TV shows. His worst fear is that no one is willing to commit to a novel, but no one needs to commit to a novel anymore.

    So as someone who would not read books if it weren’t for the advancements in technology, I think novels are going to be fine.

  • PONS Idiomas says:

    Hola, quizás os interese saber que tenemos una colección que incluye el relato ‘Defender of the Faith’ de Philip Roth en versión original conjuntamente con el relato ‘The Courter’ de Salman Rushdie.

    El formato de esta colección es innovador porque permite leer directamente la obra en inglés sin necesidad de usar el diccionario al integrarse un glosario en cada página.

    Tenéis más info de este relato y de la colección Read&Listen en

  • Manjunath says:

    Roth is a respected American author and he knows what a novel offers still movies and TV serials are increasingly becoming bunch of lies and auster is right in supporting the craft of novel making as people are interested in listening to stories.

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