Is Nonfiction Literature?
With Colum McCann, Philip Gourevitch, Norbert Gstrein, and Antje Rávic Strubel
The Nobel Prize for Literature has never been awarded to a nonfiction writer, although many literature laureates have devoted much of their writing lives to nonfiction. In bookstores, the shelves labeled, Literature, exclude nonfiction—even great works of memoir or reportage by great novelists are not allowed to stand side-by-side with novels. So what do we mean by literature? Our distinguished panelists of fiction and nonfiction writers discuss why the literary world still makes nonfiction sit at the back of the bus. What role does nonfiction work play in the writing of fiction? What is the role of imagination in writing nonfiction? What can fiction do that nonfiction cant—and vice versa?