Inge van de Ven on big books in times of 'Big Data'

The Editors

The advent of digital media has generated all sorts of claims and fears with regard to the future of society and its 'culture'. One of these fears can be described as "the death of the novel"; a future scenario in which people will lose all interest in this genre, causing it to become a tiny niche. Some people even fear that future generations will not be able to read novels, because digital services like Netflix — or more general; the internet — will transform people's reading skills in such a manner that deep reading and close reading becomes a rare quality only some individuals possess.

In her book, Big Books in Times of Big Data, Dr. Inge van de Ven from Tilburg University explores the ways in which "the digital" has influenced, and will continue to influence, the novel as a genre. According to van de Ven, the novel has always been subject to change. Which is why she believes there is no reason to fear that the novel will 'die'. According to her, the genre even takes a lot of inspiration from digital culture and digital technologies. She describes, for instance, how some writers — Karl Ove Knausgård, Roberto Bolaño, etc — employ database-like structures in their narratives to communicate certain ideas, and how words like 'monumental' can be linked to the concept of 'Big Data'.

Dr. Inge van de Ven on big books in times of 'Big Data'