An interview with the literary critic Ruth Franklinby David Wolf / August 30, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
This is the second in a new series of interviews about the art of criticism (to read the first, with Adam Kirsch, click here). More to follow soon.
Ruth Franklin has been described as one of America’s “most important critics under 40.” She is the author of A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction (OUP) and is currently working on a biography of the writer Shirley Jackson. Franklin has written for many publications, including the New Republic, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Granta, and Salmagundi, to which she contributes a regular film column. In 2012 she was awarded the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism.
For Prospect, Franklin has written on the elusive fiction of JM Coetzee, the resurgence of the American short story, the growth of “post-national” literature and, in the current issue, Margaret Atwood and the pleasures of science fiction. I spoke with Franklin earlier this month about harsh reviews, the gender gap in literary criticism, and her unusual first encounter with James Wood…
There is a popular stereotype that literary critics are all failed novelists, bitter that they never “made it,” but in a speech you gave last year, you mentioned that you had always wanted to be a critic. Why?