Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Horace Engdahl told the Associated Press that US writers were "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture", which he said dragged down the quality of their work. "The US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature," Engdahl said. "That ignorance is restraining."
Well now, I have to admit, the majority of my reading material comes from abroad. But this is only because I prefer an antiquarian style and approach to the language, and I also tend to favour psychological and philosophical stories that span time and dimension: what I mean by that is that they are not so influenced by the dominant socio-political and pop cultures of the day. I do in that case have to agree to some extent that mainstream and pop-lit in America can and does appear too isolated and too insular, but mainstream and pop-lit should not be used to define the entire literary culture of a nation, especially a nation as diverse as the US. Artists are influenced to a great degree by the culture and climate they live in and are subsequently affected by. Artists, including writers, are the historians of culture really, so I tend to disagree with such broad sweeping statements. I can even vehemently disagree when a literary work such as Frank Herbert's "Dune" encompasses a world-view which is relevant still, profoundly so, in today's world political climate.
Comments are open: Let us know what you think or just let us know your favourite American Literary Icon. Mine, well, it’s a tie between Poe and Lovecraft. Neither won the Nobel Prize, but both were and are considered genius and influential -- their contributions to literature -- invaluable.