Red rags to bulls, vol. 907

I know these things are designed solely to elicit debate and outrage and aren't really worth either, but I can't help but get dragged in. Over the weekend the faux-highbrow Sunday newspaper The Observer ran one of those Top X lists, this time allegedly the Top 25 Novels Since 1980 (written in English but not written by an American... slice that cheese, boys, slice that cheese). Despite featuring those well known sometime SFF writers Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguru, Michael Moorcock, Angela Carter, Anthony Burgess, Martin Amis and Iain No-M Banks, its sole genre offering was the most tedious, most recent Harry Potter. The rest of the list is the same dull canonical nonsense, overbearingly worthy but weary and bland, like a huge plate of cold stewed broccoli.

Equally notable was the list of voters, which they kindly also supplied; genre explorers were even thinner on the groud in that one. Stand up and be counted Jonathan Lethem, JG Ballard and Phillip Pullman. But of course. It was ever thus.

On the other hand, I'd love to know which clutch of the "150 top writers and critics" ganged together to vote in Derek Raymond's I Was Dora Suarez; beers all round for that one.

The Observer's blog picks up the debate. A fair amount more voting for more genre-oriented titles, especially Ballard and Alan Moore. A fair amount of slagging, and no visible support, for "daring" to include the Potter. And a clutch of Americans wondering why [insert worthy American writer and/or Haruki Murakami] for some reason wasn't listed...

-- marco

7 comments:

David Barnett said...

Given that the Guardian has apparently just scrapped Jon Courtenay Grimwood's monthly SF/F roundup (according to his blog) and the space for new general fiction is so bloody tight in both the Guardian and the Observer, it doesn't really come as a surprise that they're overlooking genre stuff.

I practically begged them just to even consider accepting a review copy of my first novel from Immanion Press. The general attitude was "well, it's a bit SF/F, isn't it?" and then "it's a bit small press, isn't it?".

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