“I have a sense of people thinking it (literature) is less important,” he told Reuters on Friday in a wide-ranging interview at Waterstone’s book store in central London.
“If you look at America, for instance, there is a generation older than mine in which writers like Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal would have a significant public voice on issues of the day. Now there’s virtually no writers.
“Instead you have movie stars, so if you are George Clooney or Angelina Jolie then you do have the ability to speak about public issues … and people will listen in a way they would once listen to Mailer and Sontag. That’s a change.”
He added that in authoritarian countries the situation was different, and literature had held on to some of its power.
“In those places literature continues to be important as you can see by the steps taken against writers,” he said, counting China among them.”
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