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Fiction and the Media in the English-Speaking World - Essay Example

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There has always been somewhat of a schism between so-called serious readers of fiction and media treatment of the same. Books that make the bestseller lists and stay there include everything from Toni Morrison to Zadie Smith to the likes of American trash-romance writer Nora Roberts or mystery writer John Grisham, bestseller lists and are a nuanced reflection of the public value of fiction…
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Fiction and the Media in the English-Speaking World
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Download file to see previous pages The media, as it is a mass-produced, mass-circulation endeavor, concerns itself with accessibility in literature and its connection to its readership. If the average reader of The Guardian can't understand a particular work of fiction, than The Guardian, in the interest of its readership, is apt to forego it in favor of another, more accessible title. While there certainly exist nuanced and talented book critics writing for the major news outlets, bestselling lists are indicative of the most accessible tastes of the fiction-reading public.
American media giant Oprah Winfrey publishes a highly-circulated book list called Oprah's Book Club. Books appearing on the Oprah's Book Club list have several characteristics in common: many address the 'feminine condition', the lives of Black women, and they all are emotionally and culturally substantial. Books appearing on Oprah's Book List include: Sula (Toni Morrison), What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (Pearl Cleage), Where the Heart Is (Billie Letts), The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison), The Book of Ruth (Jane Hamilton), Breath Eyes Memory (Edwidge Danticat), Daughter of Fortune (Isabel Allende), The House of Sand and Fog (Andre Dubus III), I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb), Icy Sparks (Gwyn Hyman Rubio), Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides),A Million Little Pieces (James Frey), and Mother of Pearl. As is quite obvious, the majority of these works are authored by women, and speak to the human condition, the feminine condition, and/or issues of race, class, and culture. If Toni Morrison is an indicative example of Oprah's treatment of fiction, she fulfils an important role with her work. While rife with social commentary, hidden meaning, and deft literary mechanisms, Morrison's language is comparatively simple and can be interpreted by an audience of broad socioeconomic variety Oprah's book club is a reflection of the issues that resonate most fully with the human experience: gender struggles, racism, classism, and the personal struggle that accompanies hacking it in the modern world.
It is, however, important to note the difference in treatment between a bestseller list and recognition within the literary world. A bestseller list is a public seal of quality, while a literary award is something entirely different and often reserved for members of literary circles only.

The prestige that went with winning any of[the]prizes was confined to the literary world. The sums of prize-money were certainly appreciated by the winners, but they were not substantial by today's standardsand the awards themselves had no real effect on the author's sales (56).

As noted above, media attention to any substantial literary prizes was and continues to be largely absent. The media frenzy that has surrounded Elizabeth Gilbert's recent non-fiction book Eat Pray Love, or Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code far surpassed any recognition that Doris Lessing received for her Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. The Nobel Prize in Literature was established to reward a candidate that 'should have bestowed "the greatest benefit on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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