Book reviews vie for Hatchet Job award

A MAULING OF Martin Amis is in the running for the best bad book review of 2012.

By (Agencies)

Published: Fri 11 Jan 2013, 10:30 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:27 AM

Eight finalists were announced on Tuesday for the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, a prize set up to reward scathing works of literary journalism. The nominees include Ron Charles’ Washington Post review of Amis’ satirical saga Lionel Asbo — a “ham fisted novel” full of “blanched stereotypes”.

The prize was founded last year by literary website The Omnivore to reward the “angriest, funniest, most trenchant” review published in a newspaper or magazine. Its serious aim is to raise the profile of book 
critics and “promote integrity and 
wit in literary journalism.”

Finalists for the award include Richard Evans’ assessment of A.N. Wilson’s Hitler: A Short Biography — “stale, unoriginal material ... banal and cliché-ridden historical judgments” — and Craig Brown’s review of The Odd Couple by Richard Bradford.

Brown dismissed the book about the friendship between writers Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin as “a triumph of ‘cut and paste.’”

Last year’s inaugural prize was won by Adam Mars-Jones for a review of 
Michael Cunningham’s novel By Nightfall that accused the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of scattering literary allusions like “tin cans tied to a tricycle.”

The Hatchet Job of the Year’s website describes it “for the writer of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months.”

“Hatchet Job of the Year is a 
crusade against dullness, deference and lazy thinking. It rewards critics who have the courage to overturn received opinion, and who do so with style. Most of all, it is a public celebration of that most underpaid and undervalued form of journalism: the book review,” the website says.
“It means making sure book reviews are not simply informative, but 
entertaining.” This year’s winner, to be announced February 12, will receive a year’s supply of potted shrimp from the award’s sponsor, 
a fishmonger.

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