Arnon Grunberg


House & Home

A couple of days ago I read a review by Michiko Kakutani that made me almost buy the book, not something that happens on a regular basis. The book in question was “Love and Consequences” by Margaret B. Jones. According to the review the book was a memoir written by a young woman about her life in a gang in LA. Maybe it was voyeurism that got the better of me, or it was the lyricism of Kakutani, or maybe it was just because the title reminded me of an excellent Italian movie “Le conseguenze dell’amore” about which I wrote in 2005.
A couple of days later I read a profile about the author in the House & Home section of the Times, not a section I read avidly.
Today the Times reports on the front page that Margaret B. Jones does not exist, and her book is not a memoir but pure fiction.
Her publisher has recalled the books.
There all all kinds of psychological explanations thinkable to explain this fraud, but maybe at the end what really counted were economical reasons.
Had Ms. Jones be profiled for the House & Home section had she not been a former gang member? I doubt it.
The market for non-fiction is simply bigger than the market for fiction.
There is a huge appetite for what people perceive as authenticity.
A friend told me that she overheard a woman asking: "Is a novel non-fiction?"
We know by know that the answer can be yes.