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'What is fiction for?'

15 March 2004

'A story of two airliners, commandeered by flying-school novices armed only with box cutters, smashing into the World Trade Centre in the war against the great Satan is too far-fetched. A swaggering President telling a fearful nation "We're going to get these folks," is the stuff of schlock.

Literary fiction is simply not equipped for the story of the hanging chads and the helpful brother in Florida. Halliburton and the gnomic sayings of Mr Rumsfeld are beyond make-believe...

Maybe the final question is: what is fiction for? Kafka came closest when he said it should be an axe to smash the frozen sea within us. There may be a good case that there is something too absurd and frightening and paradoxical and banal about modern politics for it to translate into fiction.' Tania Kindersley, author of Nothing to Lose, in The Times