Pankaj Mishra’s novel of intellectuals and influencers

Jennifer Wilson in The Nation:

In 2015, The New York Times Book Review posed the question “Whatever happened to the Novel of Ideas?” to the writers Pankaj Mishra and Benjamin Moser. On the question of “whether philosophical novels have gone the way of the dodo bird,” Mishra answered in the affirmative and—not a writer who shies away from generalizations—charged that the culprit was the MFA program. “America’s postwar creative-writing industry,” Mishra claimed, has “hindered literature from its customary reckoning with the acute problems of the modern epoch” and “boosted instead a cult of private experience.”

Yet in his new novel, Run and Hide, Mishra sounds a bit down on the idea of, well, ideas. He begins his story on a college campus, a place that, theoretically, should be teeming with the stuff (in fact, he asserted in the Book Review, the campus novel had become the new novel of ideas). Yet in the picture he sketches of the university, it largely functions as a means to an end: that of ruthless upward mobility.

More here.