I can’t decide if this is some kind of joke or if we should start to worry:
Of last year’s 10 best-selling novels [in Japan], five were originally cellphone novels, mostly love stories written in the short sentences characteristic of text messaging but containing little of the plotting or character development found in traditional novels.
Should we scoff at new literary expressions as being too basic in plot, characters and language to even qualify as novels, or in the contrary encourage them as a way for people otherwise uninterested in books to access literature? Young Japanese seem to find traditional novels boring and unrelated to their lives and their concerns. I can understand this generational problem, but I nonetheless find it sad. Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that new readers, after discovering literature through so-called “cellphone novels”, move on to more traditional literature.
“It’s not that they had a desire to write and that the cellphone happened to be there,” said Chiaki Ishihara, an expert in Japanese literature at Waseda University who has studied cellphone novels. “Instead, in the course of exchanging e-mail, this tool called the cellphone instilled in them a desire to write.” Indeed, many cellphone novelists had never written fiction before, and many of their readers had never read novels before, according to publishers.
I can’t just condemn these young novelists for trying to squeeze writing in their busy schedule: after all, I too try and write during my daily commute. What is the fundamental difference between them and “traditional” writers of mass-market fiction, romances, chicklit etc.? What disturbs me most is their disinterest in language itself.