Always good to see the national literature debated in the national papers. Pity these debates always take place within such narrow parameters. In this instance, the reactionary Barbara Kay lobbing softballs at novelist-first writers like Steven Galloway. At issue, lyricism versus narrative – again.
Kay’s provocation is hardly worth repeating, though I can assure you, unlike Kay with Lisa Moore’s February, I have read her articles and “have no apologies.” Galloway’s argument, on the other hand, provides the usual B+ response, setting in motion his own blindered outlook.
Where I take issue with Galloway is not his connoisseurial take on what is “neither a novel nor literature,” but his denial of new forms (radio, film, television, internet...) and their influence not only on the literature but as literature – a position typical of a novelist-first writer.
I have read novels (let’s call them fictions, too) “ripped from the headlines” (American Tabloid), just as I have read them as "sitcoms" (Pride and Prejudice), "action movies" (Heinlein’s Starship Soldiers begat Starship Troopers), and, sooner than later, tweets.
Because Galloway has reminded us that “[o]urs is not a homogenous literature,” I would hope that he might prove that to us one day by acknowledging this country’s post-genre, post-medium literary tradition. Until then, and in his words, “literature ceases to exist.”