I watched the most extraordinary article on BBC news this morning where a reporter attended a ‘Literary Death Match’. Dubbed as the ‘X Factor of the book world’, four authors are given seven minutes each to read a passage from their book to an open audience. Once over, the readings are judged by a panel and a winner is announced.
It all seemed quite bizarre. Four seemingly established authors from different genres took to the stage individually to do their reading and ‘sell’ their book. Once over, a medal was awarded to the best writer, based on their literary merit and performance.
From the writers interviewed, some admitted they were a little nervous, others said they enjoyed the process – a chance to share their work.
I have to say that the news report piqued my curiosity. As soon as I reached my PC I did a little more digging and discovered that this is certainly not a new idea. The concept of the Literary Death Match was created by Adrian Todd Zuniga in 2006, and similar events now take place in cities across the world including New York, London, Dublin and Toronto. In 2012 he created a pilot TV series and many past events can be viewed on iTunes.
Reports on the internet refer to these events as loud and sometimes raucous (the footage I watched could certainly be described as noisy in between readings), however Zuniga appears to claim that in the quest to find the ‘greatest writer of all time’ he creates an exciting, book friendly event which raises the profile of the need for books and literature in modern day society.
I’m not sure how I feel about such an idea. I enjoy author readings and find them relaxing and interesting events, a time to indulge in the words and find out more about your favourite writer and their work. The idea of a competition seems to hike up the anxiety and put a lot down to the act. My initial thoughts are that some good writers could lose out if they do not give an accomplished performance. As a new author, I’m sure it would scare the hell out of me!
That said, I suppose anything that raises the profile of literature and encourages more people to read cannot be a bad idea. Some may also argue that it offers new writers an opportunity to get additional exposure and find new readers. Similarly, it may afford readers the chance to discover new books. What do you think? As a reader, would you like to attend such an event? Or maybe you are a writer – would you like to participate? I’d love to hear your views.
You can find out more about ‘Literary Death Matches’ on their website here.