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Literature versus commerce

15 December 2003

'I don't regard literature, which he spoke of in a perjorative way, as a competition - it is so vast. We have this marvellous language, and we are so lucky it gives us a huge audience. If we were writing in high Norwegian we'd have mostly reindeer for readers.

'I don't think giving us a reading list of those who are the most read is satisfactory. I don't see that we should read this or that. We should bring our own individuality, our own intuitions, towards what we want to read. In America, we're drowning in explanations. What we need are more questions. Explanations - the official ones - are not leading us to good places.'

Shirley Hazzard, winner of the National Book Award in the US, responding to Stephen King's speech at the awards