Please Don’t Nominate Me

No, this is nothing to do with the Hugos. The Guardian is reporting the creation of a new literary prize especially for reviewers. It is to be called the Hatchet Job of the Year. And someone thinks that this is going to improve the public profile of literary critics.

*headdesk*

I should note here that I’m perfectly happy for people to write destructive reviews of books that really deserve it. This morning Jon Courtenay Grimwood tweeted about this review in The Guardian, which includes some remarkably bad samples of sentences from the book in question. And a friend phoned me today for a second opinion on an excoriation of a different book which also deserved it, for rather different reasons. But to suggest that the sole purpose of book reviewing is being destructive, well it is no wonder people have such a bad impression of reviewers.

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4 Responses to Please Don’t Nominate Me

  1. Joshua says:

    Maybe someone should give an award for the book review that most helped a book. Say, if a book was originally published with a small print run, but one critic gave it a rave review and saved it from obscurity and helped turn it into a best seller, that critic would be eligible for the award.

  2. Two things to note: the Guardian review was published in 2000. And the book is still in print in the US.

  3. Juha Autero says:

    I thought that “hatchet job” means rushed or poor quality work and thought you were sarcastically calling the prize “Hatchet Job of the Year”, but it actually is its name. Wikipedia page has the definition “A crude or ruthless effort usually ending in destruction”, so maybe “Hatchet Job of the Year” means that the critic made a hatchet job with the review.

    • Cheryl says:

      Yes, that’s pretty much what they are holding up as a “good quality” review. The more ruthless and destructive the better.

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