Birmingham Salon

What Place for the Novel in the Century of the Boxset?

Takes place on Thursday 14th June 2018, 7.30pm to 9.00pm at The Woodman, New Canal Street, Birmingham B5 5LG (near Millennium Point)

Having dodged any number of mortal threats from the cinema to the Internet, the novel finally seems to be losing its central position in cultural life. The novel has a ‘watercooler’ problem: it is gradually disappearing from everyday conversation and we seem much keener to discuss the latest season of Game of Thrones or Walking Dead.

Is the boxset poised to displace the novel?

Ofcom reports that Britain is now a binge-watching nation, with 40 million viewers watching episodes ‘back-to-back’. Meanwhile spending on novels dropped by 23% between 2012 and 2017, the Publishers Association reports.

In what is termed the ‘new golden age of television’, the epic-length boxset drama can deliver long-range development of characters such as Breaking Bad’s Walter White – whose Shakespearean-scale moral descent has entered mainstream understanding – through complex plotlines that keep us hooked, season after season. How does the novel’s unique claim to open up the interior of the human mind stand up to Breaking Bad?

Does the novel continue to offer something special or is it at least strong enough to coexist with newer narrative formats, as it has up to now? Do novelists lack the confidence that David Simon, creator of The Wire, displayed when he famously declared “Fuck the casual viewer”. Are today’s novelists too busy chasing the cultural agenda to take the lead?

And if the novel loses its foothold in mainstream culture, what do we stand to lose as humans?

The speaker and producer of this event is Sarah Bartlett.

Although there is no charge for the event, we strongly recommend you to book a place in advance on Eventbrite.

Recommended Readings
Have boxsets killed the novel? - BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 2017

[If you read nothing else, try to read this one]