Rachel Kushner’s book – centred on a female biker and published this summer – has polarised criticsRachel Kushner – wiry, dressed in black and with sunglasses worn against the effects, she says, of a late night with Irish novelist Colm Tóibin rather than the watery Edinburgh sun – is the author of The Flamethrowers, a novel whose publication this summer has prompted an outbreak of hostilities among literary critics.The book, with a set piece in which its female narrator-protagonist speeds on a motorbike through the Nevada desert, has opened up some fraught questions. Can a woman write a Great American Novel? Is there such a thing as material more or less suitable to a woman? Can a woman protagonist somehow stand for humanity or just (in Kushner’s words) “the eternal rib”?Perhaps the most important American literary taste-maker, James Wood, gave it a lengthy rave review in the New Yorker, calling it “scintillatingly alive … It ripples with stories, anecdotes, set-piece monologues, crafty egotistical tall tales, and hapless adventures”. Novelist Jonathan Franzen has called her “a thrilling and prodigious novelist”.Elsewhere, though, the novel has prompted accusations that its so-called “macho” qualities (there is a great deal of speed, risk and bodily …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books