Prufrock's Page

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Sighting Of The Dissident

One liked and admired Nell Freudenberger's Lucky Girls; one hopes her first novel, The Dissident, displays more of the same literary quality. Here's a profile and capsule review from The Pittsburgh Tribune, in the course of which she says: "I think for me, any novel is always about things we've felt or have happened to us, but it's important for me to trick myself into believing that's not what I'm doing at the beginning. At the same time, you want it to always be true. That's the sort of paradox of fiction: You want to write the truth even while you're kind of spinning a tale. This novel started with the voice of Yuan Zhao... That his background was so far away from mine, I felt I was free to write the book without bumping up against what was real. But obviously, if you read his feelings about making something, whether or not it's art, they are certainly my feelings. A lot of his feelings about pretending are certainly feelings that I had."

Sort of reminds one of Arundhati Roy's comment on her novel: "The starting blocks are fact; the race is fiction."

Update: In the San Francisco Chronicle, Elizabeth Rosner is less than impressed: "The Dissident offers readers a profusion of reflections and insights that will linger long after the book has been read. Unfortunately, there is also a clutter of derivative images that prove distracting and less than engaging, 'types' who remind us that original artistry is not an easy art to master."


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