Elif Batuman & The Possessed

Parul Sehgal, Time Out New York / Issue 754 : Mar 11–17, 2010

You’re extremely critical of modern fiction—and particularly of the American short story. Are there contemporary fiction writers you do enjoy?
Yes, absolutely! My favorite living writer is Haruki Murakami, which I can’t fully explain, but there it is—I even read and enjoyed the book about his running diary! I also really like Kazuo Ishiguro and Jonathan Franzen. In the past year I read and enjoyed Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal and Roberto Bolano’s Savage Detectives.

My issues with the American short story are really more about a certain institutional pedagogic aesthetic than about individual writers or works. Living Americans whose short stories I have read and enjoyed include Keith Gessen, Damion Searls, Aleksandar Hemon, Donald Antrim, James Salter and Joyce Carol Oates. Also some Canadians, like Alice Munro and David Bezmozgis.

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