Forced to write a novel?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

British writer Sharon Dogar has sparked a controversy with her new fictionalized account of the relationship between Anne Frank and Peter van Pels, a boy who hid from the Nazis in the same Amsterdam building as Frank's family. Annexed, which is due out this fall, apparently imagines intimate contact between the two, and representatives of the Anne Frank Trust have objected to the "sexualization" of her legacy.

I'll leave that argument to them because I haven't seen the book, but I was interested in something Hogar told Richard Lea of the Guardian:

The problem is that a writer doesn’t always choose what they write. The idea of this book plagued me for 15 years. I tried quite hard not to write it, mostly because I had similar concerns; I couldn’t do it justice, I wasn’t sure it was legitimate, I didn’t believe I had the talent to portray the horror of the Holocaust. But sometimes stories just come and you can’t stop them.

Really? I can think of plenty of ways to stop, starting with not sitting down and pressing her fingers on a keyboard. I appreciate the concept of needing to tell a story, but if she was really that concerned over the legitimacy of this novel she wouldn't have written it. No one writes and edits hundreds of pages against her will. To pretend like she was tormented by the writing gods into putting an objectionable thing on paper is disingenuous and self-serving. She wants the publicity of a controversial novel but excuses herself from responsibility for any parts people find distasteful. And now we are talking about her book, so guess who wins?