Hatchet Job of the Year 2013
Craig Brown on The Odd Couple by Richard Bradford, Mail on Sunday
Ron Charles on Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis, Washington Post
Richard Evans on Hitler: A Short Biography by A.N. Wilson, New Statesman
Claire Harman on Silver: A Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion, London Evening Standard
Zoë Heller on Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie, New York Review of Books
Camilla Long on Aftermath by Rachel Cusk, Sunday Times
Allan Massie on The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine, Scotsman
Suzanne Moore on Vagina by Naomi Wolf, Guardian
Last year, the Hatchet Job of the Year 2012 struck a blow at the heart of the literary establishment.
It rewarded honesty, wit and good writing. It condemned mediocrity, sycophancy and lazy adjectives. It put the reader first.
Following the recent Omnivore inquiry, however, it is clear much remains to be done.
Book reviewing is facing unprecedented challenges.
Critics fear for their livelihoods. The cultural deficit from years of reckless use of clichés and superlatives will take generations to pay off. The emergence of a new global superpower, with its sock-puppet dictatorship and one-Kindle policy, means we can no longer afford to be complacent.
It is time for literary journalism – the backbone of our once-proud book industry – to regain its competitive edge.
This is why difficult decisions have to be made.
Authorial egos must be cut down to size. Editors need to be called to account.
But this is not just about wielding the axe. Our guiding philosophy is compassionate criticism.
We want to get young reviewers into work. We want to lift hard-working critics out of poverty. We want to rescue the squeezed middle of the literary pages.
We want to help you, the reader, aspire to better.
Hatchet Job of the Year 2013 is our Plan A.
There is no Plan B.