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Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 on NPR, is a journalist and the author of the novels Hey Day, Turn of the Century, The Real Thing, and his latest non-fiction book[…]

While subversive novelists have historically stood as a spokesperson for their generations, Kurt Andersen believes that, in today’s world, the serious writer is destined for obscurity.

Question: Can novelists today be both celebrated and subversive?

Kurt Andersen: Well, first of all, there is the problem of novelists being all that celebrated in America if they're very serious as a novelist. I'm not -- well, it's an interesting question. I think, as I read about in the introduction to this novel, I think the job category of voice of a generation or voice of a nation spokesperson and a household name novelists no longer exists. Subversiveness is a different issue but I think that probably makes it even harder. I think that to be extremely well known, sell a lot books, well regarded as a novelist, all those things are difficult and subversiveness in this day and age makes it even more difficult, I suppose. I guess you could say that Normal Mailer, on a certain level, for instance, was a subversive novelist, but I think the audience for subversiveness is a niche audience at this point in America. 

Recorded on: October 13, 2009