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Thursday, August 13, 2009

A.S. Byatt Attacks Reality

Byatt attacks novelists who use real-life characters | Books |
Alison Flood writes:

A.S. Byatt has launched a vigorous attack on writers who combine biography and fiction, calling it an "appropriation of others' lives and privacy".

Her broadside against authors of "faction", which she describes as "mixtures of biography and fiction, journalism and invention", is particularly startling given that it could be applied to her rival for this year's Man Booker prize, Hilary Mantel, who is longlisted for her historical novel about the life of Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall.

"I really don't like the idea of 'basing' a character on someone, and these days I don't like the idea of going into the mind of the real unknown dead," said Byatt in an interview with the organisers of the Booker prize. "It feels like the appropriation of others' lives and privacy. Making other people up, which is a kind of attack on them." Oscar Wilde appears in her own Booker-nominated novel, The Children's Book, she added, but "the novelist doesn't say what he thinks".
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