The Man Booker prize-winning author warns that political correctness is killing the way we read.
By Charlotte Higgins
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?”
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