Bad reviews are obviously one of the worst things to happen to any author. But, as readers, we love them! It’s far more fun to read a waspish turn of phrase than a fawning reproduction of a book’s back cover blurb.
Founded by website, The Omnivore, and only in its second year, the Hatchet Job of the Year award is given to the writer who pens the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past 12 months. It aims to raise the profile of professional critics and to promote integrity and wit in literary journalism.
This year’s honours go to Camilla Long of the Sunday Times for her delightfully scathing review of Rachel Cusk’s memoir, Aftermath. She writes the novelist off as a brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist who exploits her husband and her marriage with relish.
And the runners up…
- Craig Brown described Richard Bradford’s The Odd Couple as a triumph of ‘cut and paste’.
- Ron Charles described Martin Amis’ meandering novel Lionel Asbo as full of class mockery that curdles into a misanthropic vision of human suffering.
- Richard Evans wrote that A.N. Wilson’s new biography of Hitler was a travesty — a collection of stale, unoriginal material, banal, cliché-ridden historical judgements, written in a lame, tired narrative style by a repellently arrogant man.
- Claire Harman called Andrew Motion’s novel a boring and implausible sequel to Treasure Island.
- Zoë Heller said Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, is written with lordly nonchalance by a man who portrays himself as an embattled, literary immortal-in-waiting.
- Allan Massie wrote that The Divine Comedy, by Craig Raine, is a wearisome, self-indulgent, affected, mannered, rather silly sex-obsessed novel.
- Suzanne Moore couldn’t stand the utter drivel and dumbed-down feminism of Vagina, by Naomi Wolf.