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Ivan Vladislavic on Winning the Windham Campbell Prize, Literary Festivals and “Corporate Storytellers”

101 DetectivesEarlier this year Ivan Vladislavić, Teju Cole and Helon Habila received the 2015 Windham Campbell Prizes for Fiction.

Karina Szczurek did an interview with the 101 Detectives author about his work and how the prestigious achievement has changed his writing life. “The prize money will come in useful,” Vladislavić told Szczurek.

On the subject of literary festivals, and the controversial debates that were sparked at this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival, he said: “Festivals can serve all kinds of causes … But in my experience their primary function is to entertain readers.”

Szczurek also asked the author about the issues of writers as “corporate storytellers” as raised in 101 Detectives. Read the article:

Festivals as “marketing platforms” resonate with issues raised by several stories in 101 Detectives. When a CEO of a company has to defend his choice of painting hanging in the boardroom in “Mountain Landscape”, or a new car model is introduced to the public as part of a theatrical spectacle in “Industrial Theatre”, or a corporate storyteller aspires to rise above her level in “Exit Strategy”, creativity and corporate attitudes mingle. I asked Vladislavić whether he felt that in today’s world, where there is so much focus on productivity and financial gain, writers were becoming “corporate storytellers” like the character in “Exit Strategy”. His assessment of the situation is sober and practical: “Nearly all writers are involved in the marketing of their books and are caught up in the corporate machinery. Some clearly enjoy it more than others, and a few keep out of the fray and still manage to find readers.”

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