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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