The Saturday Writing Quote — the novel and empathy

The novel “breaks down the barrier between the self and the other, which is the basis for democracy, the basis for humane society. … It’s epistemological. It tries to deal with one key question: How do we know what we know? Basically, it’s trying to validate the subjective experience of an individual. That’s why it’s the most democratic form in literature, because it raises up to the level of significance the subjective experience of an ordinary human being.”

– Russell Banks, quoted in The Missoulian 10/9/11, on the novel’s power to evoke empathy for others