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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Slate Article: The Novel, 2.0

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The Novel, 2.0
Will the Internet change fiction as we know it?
By Walter Kirn and Gary Shteyngart
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006, at 6:58 PM ET

From: Walter Kirn
To: Gary Shteyngart
Subject: The Odyssey in 2006

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006, at 6:57 PM ET

For this year's Fall Fiction Week, Slate has invited novelists Walter Kirn and Gary Shteyngart to discuss a question that's been on our minds: What is the role of fiction in the age of the Internet? By "Internet" we mean not just the web itself but also the notion of constant connectivity. Today, in this age of the virtual network, the concept of being "out of reach" has begun to seem quaint, and our experience of the world has become more fluid—with, perhaps, less room for solitude and concentration. So, we've asked our critics to address the following questions: Does the new age of connectivity have any ramifications for the novel? Has human experience been altered? Have the conventions of storytelling begun to change—and if not, should they?

Walter Kirn is the author, most recently, of The Unbinding, a serial novel published online in Slate that tried to make use of the inherent properties of the medium. Gary Shteyngart is the author, most recently, of Absurdistan, a comically surreal journey through a post-national world of fluid identities and disorienting cultural collisions. He is currently at work on a novel set in a future where language ceases to matter, except to an elite group of people.

Walter Kirn's most recent novels are The Unbinding, Mission to America and Up in the Air. He lives in Montana and can be reached at
Gary Shteyngart is the author of the novels Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Travel & Leisure, Granta, and many other publications.

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