LeGuin on Dystopia

Earlier I wrote about several of Ursula K. LeGuin’s books in Dystopias with Light Visible. In Words Are My Matter (an excellent collection of her essays about writing, book reviews, etc.) she says:

Dystopia is by its nature a dreary, inhospitable country. To its early explorers it held all the excitement of discovery, and that still fills their descriptions, keeping them fresh and powerful–E. M. Forester’s “The Machine Stops,” Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. But for the last thirty years or more, Dystopia has been a major tourist attraction. Everyone goes there and writes a book about it. And the books tend to be alike, because the terrain is limited and it nature is monotonous.

Ursula K. LeGuin

She admits that she doesn’t do negative book reviews for first-time/beginning writers. Established writers coasting on their reputation are fair game. Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is such a book. He is a professor of creative writing at Stanford. In her review she skewers it for all writing style and no substance/content.

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