The Art-House Crowd

Daniel Soar

  • Chinese Letter by Svetislav Basara, translated by Ana Lucic
    Dalkey Archive, 132 pp, £7.99, January 2005, ISBN 0 15 647837 4

Is anybody listening? This isn’t a question that detains most eminent Western writers of fiction, whose able conjurings of hot-air balloon disasters relived in appalled slow motion, or of multiple family unravellings that refigure the world, are the engines of supercharged literature. But the great novelists have a problem. They’re expected to perform, and in order to perform they have to submit to their own fiction, which – in the manner of any great performance – has to be oratorical and technically faultless. Think RSC extravaganza. They have to trick themselves into believing that what they’re about to deliver is the only thing worth listening to. They have to believe in stories.

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