Truth, Lies and Fiction
Melvyn Bragg discusses the case of an acclaimed holocaust memoir that was later exposed as fiction, and examines whether authenticity is the right measure for excellence in literature.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss truth, lies and fiction. In 1995 a book appeared which brought its author great acclaim from serious critics, won prizes, stunned its readers and was thought to add significantly and profoundly to the literature of the Holocaust. The book was called Fragments, its author, Binjamin Wilkomirski. But recently the veracity of the account told in Fragments has been questioned by Elena Lappin, the author of an investigative essay published in the literary magazine Granta. When it was exposed as a fiction - or should it be called a lie? - it triggered many arguments, one of which is that of the value of authenticity and the supremacy of originality in the culture of the late twentieth century. Does it really matter if literature isn’t entirely truthful? And is the idea of authenticity in writing a recent invention?With Elena Lappin, novelist and author of an investigative essay published in Granta called ‘Truth and Lies’, where she questions the veracity of the account of the Holocaust in the book Fragments by Binjamin Wilkomirski; Dr Nick Groom, lecturer in English, University of Exeter.