Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Stephen Adams, Telegraph, UK - Fiction - including poetry - should be taken just as seriously as facts-based research, according to the team from Manchester University and the London School of Economics.

Novels should be required reading because fiction "does not compromise on complexity, politics or readability in the way that academic literature sometimes does," said Dr Dennis Rodgers from Manchester University's Brooks World Poverty Institute.

He said: "Despite the regular flow of academic studies, expert reports, and policy position papers, it is arguably novelists who do as good a job – if not a better one – of representing and communicating the realities of international development.

"While fiction may not always show a set of presentable research findings, it does not compromise on complexity, politics or readability in the way that academic literature sometimes does.

"And fiction often reaches a much larger and diverse audience than academic work and may therefore be more influential in shaping public knowledge and understanding of development issues."

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner "has arguably done more to educate Western readers about the realities of daily life in Afghanistan under the Taliban and thereafter than any government media campaign, advocacy organization report, or social science research", said the report.

It also praised the winner of this year's Man Booker Prize, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, for its "passionate depiction of the perils and pitfalls of rampant capitalism in contemporary India".

The novel "deftly highlights the social injustice and moral corruption that underpin the country's apparently miraculous economic development during the past decade," it said. . .

Professor Michael Woolcock, director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute, said they were "not arguing that poets should replace finance ministers."

He said: "Fiction is important because it is often concerned with the basic subject matter of development. This includes things like the promises and perils of encounters between different peoples; the tragic mix of courage, desperation, humour, and deprivation characterizing the lives of the down-trodden."


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