Coming soon: novels as popular as Latin poetry -

Coming soon: novels as popular as Latin poetry

Philip Roth doesn’t think we’ll have the attention span for long fiction


At 76, Philip Roth shows no signs of slowing down. The American novelist has a new book, The Humbling, out less than a year after his last novel, and another one ready for 2010 publication. Not that he thinks very many people will be reading them a quarter century from now. Roth believes that the concentration and focus required to read a novel is becoming less and less prevalent, as potential readers turn instead to computers or to television. “I was being optimistic about 25 years really. I think it’s going to be cultic. I think always people will be reading them but it will be a small group of people. Maybe more people than now read Latin poetry, but somewhere in that range,” Roth told Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. The advent of e-readers such as the Kindle will make no difference. “The book can’t compete with the screen. It couldn’t compete [in the] beginning with the movie screen. It couldn’t compete with the television screen, and it can’t compete with the computer screen,” Roth said. “Now we have all those screens, so against all those screens a book couldn’t measure up.”

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