Anne Tyler, the Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, has said she expects to be told she should not write male lead characters “any day now” in an era of cancel culture.

Tyler, who has written more than 20 novels including Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Breathing Lessons, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, said authors “should be allowed” to write from the perspectives of lives they have not personally experienced.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Culture magazine, she said she disliked the term "cancel culture", but is horrified by its implications for literature.

"I'm astonished by the appropriation issue," she said. "It would be very foolish for me to write, let's say, a novel from the viewpoint of a black man, but I think I should be allowed to do it.”

On the issue of cancellation in hindsight, banning the books or art of someone later revealed to have been problematic, she added: "If an incredibly talented person has written novels in the 1930s or 40s and all of a sudden it is discovered that there was something he said or did — even something as bad as sexual harassment— he should be condemned for it, but I don't see why you should withdraw his novels from publication.

"We couldn't look at Gauguin's paintings, could we? They would have to be destroyed or put away."

When asked whether she had yet been advised not to write male protagonists, as they have appeared in novels including The Accidental Tourist, she said: "No, but I expect it to happen any day now.”

Storylines have evolved with society

Tyler, whose 24th novel French Braid is out on Tuesday, also spoke of how storylines have had to evolve with society.

Discussing how her plots featuring disappearing characters can no longer work in the same way, she said: "You wouldn't believe how much the existence of cell phones has changed plots.

"You can't lose touch with somebody as easily as you used to. You can't lose their phone number, or if you move to a new place everybody still knows how to call you."

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