Who will be the bards of suburbia?
Evers writes about the London-centric nature of the British book industry, noting that, "When English literary novels do venture outside the greater London confines, they do so to escape to either a place where lush descriptions can fill the page (The countryside! The sea!) or to other urban areas (Birmingham and Manchester, usually)."
While Evers gives credit to an earlier generation of suburban scribes (notably David Nobbs and JG Ballard), he wonders about younger writers today. Few, he notes, have ever really "captured the dull monotony of a suburb."
In the US, of course, the field was once defined by John Cheever, our "Chekhov of the suburbs." But it did make me wonder about today – who is accurately capturing the milieu (all right, the "dull monotony," if you that's how you see it) of the US suburb?
There are certainly successful contemporary writers who leave the city (in the Oprah-championed "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" David Wroblewski takes us to rural Wisconsin, while Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer Prize for exploring the nuances of small-town Maine life in "Olive Kitteridge") but who tackles the commuter suburbs? Is there a widely read contemporary US writer who is mining that field?
Would Joseph O'Neill's "Netherland" be on bestseller lists if his characters had played cricket in Bloomfield, N.J.? And would we be reading Colm Toibin's "Brooklyn" with equal interest if his Irish immigrants had settled in Medford, Mass.?
As Evers points out, "Cities are dazzling, diverting places, but that's not to say that just because they're louder there's more to listen to."
You can read Evers' full piece here.