Who is the greatest?

Creating coverage out of something it wrote itself has led The Guardian to devote its lead feature today to debating who is Britain’s greatest living author. What started the debate is a news story the paper produced last week that referred to Martin Amis as the person but no doubt this will run and run.

The problem with judging a living writer is that because they are continuing to produce work they still might have a War and Peace up their sleeve and it might be unwise to judge them just on the output up to date. Describing something as a ‘classic’ usually comes after the death of the writer and as a yardstick that seems a good guide. In terms of measuring greatness it’s so subjective that inevitably it will come down to either volume of sales or personal popularity.

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