The Literary Value of Boredom


What is the most important thing England’s former colonies have in common? For Saikat Majumdar, an assistant professor at Stanford, the answer is boredom.

In his latest book, Prose of the World, Majumdar explores how writers from Ireland’s James Joyce to India’s Amit Chaudhuri spin the everyday dullness of marginalization into gleaming prose.

“Perhaps,” Majumdar said, “because literature’s traditional mission is to engage and excite the imagination, the inescapable reality of the banal and the boring has been overlooked in literary thought.” But, he added, “We need to take boredom a little more seriously.”

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →